Everyone has coping strategies that we use to deal with stressful or otherwise tough periods in our lives. Some of us get lost in our work, some of us go hiking, some of us binge video games or Netflix series. However, our coping mechanisms do risk becoming symptoms of a greater problem, rather than a solution to our problems. Here’s how to stop that from happening.
Don’t use them to avoid your problems
Coping mechanisms act as a distraction from the problems we’re currently dealing with and, sometimes, that’s necessary. However, this can also become an unhealthy problem. There may be more effective ways to heal emotional suffering, and avoiding the root causes of mental health issues tends to only ingrain them even further in our lives. You can use coping mechanisms to get some distance from a problem, but once you have that distance, it’s time to look at the problem from our new perspective. It helps us make use of our coping strategies more effectively, whilst also offering us a new method of problem-solving.
Not all coping mechanisms are the same
Are you the kind of person to pick up a pack of cigarettes when you’re stressed, or to enjoy a drink after a hard day? It’s understandable, but these bad coping strategies can lead to dangerous addictions. Relying on substances can lead to substance abuse more serious and harmful options. If you think you’re self-medicating to deal with your problems, then you need to act to stop it as soon as possible, and a men’s rehab center can help. Acknowledging the problem and seeking help for it is an important step.
Any habit can be unhealthy when we lose control of it, and this goes for how we respond to pain or difficulty in our life, as well. For instance, it’s important to learn the difference between defense mechanisms and coping mechanisms. We tend to be unconscious of our defense mechanisms, so taking the time to recognize if you have them and the emotional triggers that lead to them can then help you redirect that energy towards more healthy coping mechanisms instead.
Know when you need help
Simply put, if you find that you’re relying on your coping mechanisms too often, that you’re finding them less effective as time goes on, or that you’re losing control of them, don’t be afraid to reach out. Broaching the topic of mental health can be difficult, but once you do, the variety of options available can help you really get your life back in order. Looking to your friends and family, to local support groups, or the help of a counselor can be an essential step in making sure that your coping mechanisms stay healthy and effective.
Coping strategies can be healthy, they can allow us to get some much-needed space from a problem and keep an even-keel. However, we need to know when we’re at risk of becoming a victim to our coping mechanisms, rather than a beneficiary.