The Importance of Positive Coping Mechanisms
When people are facing trauma or stress, they need to have coping mechanisms in place to help them to manage their painful and difficult emotions, helping them to adjust to the stressful events they are experiencing while enabling them to maintain emotional well-being.
What Is A Coping Mechanism?
Significant events in life, both negative and positive, may cause someone to suffer from psychological stress. Divorce, death, unemployment, and family issues can all result in distressing emotions coming to the fore that can be hard to cope with. However, there are also some positive events that can result in a lot of personal, stress as well. Buying a property, having a baby or getting married may all seem like happy events, but, the pressure placed on the individual can take its toll.
In order to cope with the stress being experienced, people who are going through these challenging times often use a combination of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to adjust. While some people think that defense mechanisms are the same thing as coping mechanisms, this is not the case. While there are some shared similarities, they are not identical.
While defense mechanisms occur unconsciously, with people being unaware that they are in use, coping mechanisms, conversely, occur consciously and have a purpose. Coping mechanisms can be used to handle external situations that are a result of problems, while defense mechanisms change the individual’s psychological state.
Different Coping Mechanisms
Coping styles may either be emotion-focused or problem-focused. While a problem-focused strategy is usually linked to dealing with the problem itself to reduce the stress, emotion-focused coping mechanisms are associated with helping the individual to handle his or her distressing feelings.
Coping mechanisms may also be avoidant or active. An active coping mechanism involves being aware of the stress factor and making a conscious effort to reduce that stress. Meanwhile, an avoidant coping mechanism is characterized by avoiding or ignoring the problem altogether.
While some coping methods may work in the short term, they cannot remain effective over a longer period of time. Counterproductive coping mechanisms that are ineffective and have negative consequences are sometimes known as “maladaptive,” while “adaptive” mechanisms are effective and healthy forms of managing difficult situations.
Best Coping Mechanisms
The best coping methods to use when faced with challenging life situations include:
* Getting support – Talking about stressful events can be one very effective way of managing stress.
* Relaxation – By participating in relaxing sober activities, such as listening to music, meditating or using calming techniques, it is possible to reduce stress.
* Problem-solving – by identifying the problem and then taking action to manage it, it’s possible to handle stress more effectively.
* Humor – By laughing at a difficult situation, it is possible to maintain a healthy perspective and stop everything from being too overwhelming.
* Exercise – Physical activity is a healthy and natural way to relieve stress. Yoga, running, dancing, and walking are just some of the activities you can try to cope with stress.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
While the above are all good examples of healthy strategies to cope with stress, there are many negative coping mechanisms that people fall into the habit of using. Over time, they will have a severe negative impact on a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health:
* Drug use
* Alcohol abuse
* Excessive working
* Avoiding problems
* Binge eating
Mental Health Effects of Coping Mechanisms
Developing positive coping skills often helps to improve emotional and mental well-being. If you are better able to adjust to traumatic or stressful situations by using positive coping mechanisms, you will be less at risk of depression and anxiety. If you use negative coping mechanisms, however, your emotional and mental health will be affected. Drinking alcohol excessively and taking drugs often helps to reduce stress in the short term. But, once addiction sets in, it can be harder to cope overall. Many people fall into substance abuse as a result of negative coping mechanisms and finding a way of changing that mindset and finding alternative ways to handle stress is vital in quitting for good and treating the substance abuse disorder.
How to Cope in Recovery
When an addict goes into recovery, he or she needs to develop the right coping strategies to replace the negative ones that he or she has given up. Instead of using drugs and alcohol to manage stress, it is important to develop healthier ways of coping, including:
* Finding a resolution to the problem.
* Developing an objective viewpoint of stresses.
* Connecting with others.
* Maintaining healthy relationships.
* Developing strong self-control and self-discipline.
* Asking for help and accepting support.
Because those who have a substance abuse disorder have been used to taking drugs and alcohol as a primary coping mechanism, it requires practice and time to learn new and healthier ways of coping. Part of the rehab process is to learn skills that will ensure that regardless of what happens in life, it will be possible to cope without relapse. By developing healthy and positive coping mechanisms, it is possible to live a happy and substance-free life without the risk of relapse and without the negative impacts of substance abuse.
SOBA College Recovery Addiction Treatment Center provides a customized approach to the treatment of substance addiction in young people. By looking under the surface at the reasons that lie beneath the addiction problem, SOBA’s doctors and qualified therapists can address an individual’s inability to cope with stress in an appropriate way and help him or her to learn new strategies for stress management that do not involve using substances to avoid or escape problems in life.
If either you or a young person in your life is using alcohol or drugs as a negative coping mechanism, it’s time to seek professional help to get on the path to a sober and productive lifestyle. SOBA is here to help and can provide the long-term tools and skills necessary to stand firm against substance abuse and to face the future with positive coping mechanisms and strategies.