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Coping: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Life is full of stress.  Some of the stress on us comes in the form of the positive (eustress) and some in the form of the negative (distress), however regardless of the type of stress we are constantly navigating stressors in our lives.

In order to endure and triumph over stress, we naturally utilize coping mechanisms in everyday life.  Coping Mechanisms are the actions we take to deal with stress, problems, anxieties, or uncomfortable emotions. 

Coping mechanisms (also known as coping strategies or coping skills) are natural, normal, and can be beneficial.  In the process of gauging the mechanisms we pick, however, it’s important to distinguish between healthy strategies and unhealthy ones.

What makes a strategy healthy vs unhealthy?

Generally, we pick a coping strategy because it works.  In some way it helps us to work through or endure our current stressors.  Unfortunately, some coping strategies can hurt us more than they help us.

Unhealthy coping strategies often provide instant gratification or relief, but have long-term negative consequences. In contrast, healthy coping strategies don’t always feel good in the moment, but they contribute to long-lasting positive outcomes.

Examples of healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms

Some unhealthy coping strategies might include:

  1. Drug and/or alcohol use

  2. Overeating

  3. Aggression

  4. Procrastination

  5. Self-harm

  6. Sleeping too much or too little

Some examples of healthy coping:

  1. Talking about your problem

  2. Prayer

  3. Exercise

  4. Healthy Eating

  5. Relaxation techniques (deep breathing!)

  6. Problem solving techniques

  7. Seeking professional help

It’s important to note that any strategy can become unhealthy when used in an unhealthy way.  It’s important to be mindful of the strategies we are choosing are helping us move towards resolution and helping us be the best version of ourselves.

Need help learning to cope in a more healthy way?  Our counselors at AWCC can help with that!  Contact us to set up an appointment.


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