The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
When managing trauma or mental health concerns, turning to a variety of coping mechanisms is common. Each person manages their mental health differently, but it is important that the coping mechanisms used are healthy.
Coping skills are an essential part of managing mental health and recovering from trauma. Often used to stabilize mood, decrease the intensity of one’s emotions and minimize stress, these skills can be recommended by therapists and mental health professionals to be accustomed to your needs.
Unhealthy coping mechanisms can provide quick, intense relief from overwhelming emotions. However, long term, there can be serious damage done. Examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms include substance abuse, self-harm, procrastination, drastic diet changes and withdrawal. For each of these, and other examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms, problems will worsen. A key aspect of unhealthy coping mechanisms is that they are used to distract or numb the emotions toward a situation.
Healthy coping mechanisms may not provide the instant gratification that unhealthy ones do, but they help provide positive healing and can lead to strides in managing your mental health. Examples of healthy coping mechanisms are moderate exercise, relaxation techniques, starting productive hobbies, seeking out professional help and making a daily calendar.
Choosing the right coping skills to incorporate into your daily routine is important. Using unhealthy coping mechanisms can add stress to your life. Coping skills are not a one-size-fits-all approach. If meditation is not right for you, then maybe journaling or exercise are. It’s necessary to keep an open mind and to listen to your body and positively address your mental health.