29 Sep 2017

How to Recognize and Get Past Negative Coping Mechanisms

We all cope with things like grief

29 Sep 2017

We all cope with things like grief and stress differently. Life tends to throw a lot of things our way, and how we respond to each situation can greatly affect the next ‘chapter’ in what we do. Some negative coping mechanisms may not seem like such a big deal: Perhaps you reach for a pint of ice cream when you’re stressed out. Or, maybe you need a drink to take the edge off.

When these coping mechanisms start to turn into regular habits, or things we turn to in dependency whenever we get stressed, bigger problems can occur. Unfortunately, you may not see your coping skills as negative until they’ve already become a bigger issue. Let’s dive deeper into what negative coping actually looks like. Once you recognize the patterns, you can choose to take control of your life again and practice positive coping habits instead.

Negative Self-Talk

Getting down on yourself about things easily is an easy way to shift the blame of a problem you may be dealing with. You can almost use talking down on yourself as a type of ‘excuse’ for whatever you’re going through, but it doesn’t make the problem go away and certainly won’t make you feel better. If you find yourself criticizing the things you do, or simply the way you are, you could be falling into a poor coping habit.

Drinking, Smoking, and Drugs

If you’ve never been an avid drinker or smoker before, but you turn to these substances in times of stress or grief, it’s important to take a closer look at why. Many people who don’t want to face negative situations will look for outlets that either make them feel ‘numb,’ or as though they can avoid that particular situation for awhile. Avoidance will likely only make the problem worse, as it continues to build up and never gets resolved.

Becoming Aggressive

Stress or grief can weigh heavily on anyone. While some people’s response is sadness and proneness to depression, other people tend to act out in anger and aggression. If you find that you have a ‘short fuse’ when you’re going through a stressful time, it could be your own negative way of dealing with things. This could include anything from yelling at friends, family members, or your children, to becoming violent at times. Take stock of your aggression when you’re going through a stressful situation.

What Are Some Positive Coping Habits?

There are plenty of additional negative coping mechanisms to consider. Everything from your eating habits (overeating or undereating) to taking risks (driving too fast in your car) can come into play. They are different for everyone. The important thing is to recognize how you respond, as an individual, so you can better determine if you’re coping in a healthy way or not.

On the other side of things, there are multiple ways to cope in a healthy and positive manner.

This includes things like:
Going out with a friend
Spending time with a pet
Doing something that makes you laugh
Being creative

One of the best things you can do to ensure you’re coping effectively is to seek out some type of counsel if you can’t do it on your own. If negative coping mechanisms have turned into habits, getting the right kind of help can make a big difference.

We’re happy to work with you to build on the positive coping habits you can create for yourself. It can take time and a little extra effort, but by working together, we can make sure the stressful situations you deal with regularly can be handled in a healthy and appropriate manner. Not only will you start to feel better about how you handle stress, but you’ll undoubtedly notice the positive impact these changes can have on your life.

Anna M. Hickey, Counseling Macomb, works with couples and families struggling with relationship issues

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