The term “coping mechanism” describes a conscious action you take when reacting to tough situations or turbulent emotions. Different circumstances call for different reactions, so it’s important to recognize what’s healthy, what’s not, and how to better react in the future.
Harmful coping mechanisms include substance use, overworking, social withdrawal, denial, eating disorders, and even unhealthy sleeping patterns. While these behaviors may provide temporary relief, they can also lead to long-term health and emotional repercussions. If you recognize an unhealthy coping mechanism in your life, try replacing it with one of these five ways of better regulating your emotions.
Find your support system
Having a support system can make tough situations and emotions easier to handle. Find family members, friends, and colleagues that will listen with an open mind and respond with an encouraging message. Allow yourself to lean on this network when you need them and be honest about even the most uncomfortable emotions.
It’s important to remember that your network is made up of people just like you. Always ask permission to share tough emotions as a way of showing respect for their mental health and well-being.
Meditation provides focus in unsettling moments, slows down the mind, and keeps it from wandering to unproductive and anxiety-inducing thoughts. If you’re feeling particularly stressed out or anxious about a looming event, take a moment to sit in a silent place, breathe deeply, and let your heart and mind rest.
Get some exercise
Moving your body helps release both physical and mental tension. Whether you lift some weights at the gym, swim a few laps at the pool, or take a hike with loved ones, you’ll elevate endorphin levels and feel an instant relief to your worry.
Keep a journal
Putting your thoughts into words is a safe way of processing and coping with your emotions. When tensions rise or you feel a drop in your mood, take a few moments to write down the following things:
- 3 things weighing you down
- 5 things lifting you up
- 1 kind thing you would say to someone in your situation
- 1 thing to look forward to
By acknowledging your pain and following up with affirming thoughts, you will walk away feeling more equipped to handle what lies ahead.
Ask for help
Counseling can provide you other ways of coping with your unique situation and emotions. If you’re looking for someone to talk to, our trained counselors are ready to walk this journey with you.