What do you do when you are stressed? Is what you do healthy or not? Stress comes in a number of forms. It can be physical, emotional, or mental. It can be from work, or family. It can even be in the form of our own thoughts turning against us.
Actions that make you feel better when you are stressed are called Coping Mechanisms. They are taught in childhood, collected through your life, and though they can change over time, its important to evaluate whether they are helping or hurting in the long run.
There are two main types of helpful Coping Mechanisms, Problem-Focused and Emotion-Focused. Problem-Focused mechanisms are ways to fix what’s causing you stress. That might include creating healthy boundaries, creating a to do list, or asking for help. Sometimes you can’t change a situation, this is where Emotion-Focused mechanisms come into play. They are ways to help you deal with stress and it might include taking a bath, meditating, or exercise. When faced with an issue, you decide whether you need emotional help to deal with the issue, help to fix the issue, or both.
On a rare occasion, a Coping Mechanism may be both problem solving and emotional. One example could be a massage. While studies have shown that massage aids in reducing cortisol (the stress hormone), it can also solve the problem of muscular pain.
In addition, there are unhealthy or harmful Coping Mechanisms. These are things like drugs, alcohol or even anger. As you may have figured out, some Coping Mechanisms are healthy in moderation. For example, having a glass of wine or a beer after a long day, may be a way to decompress. However, if you are drinking just to get through the day, it is no longer healthy.
Though Coping Mechanisms begin in childhood, it is possible to change them as life goes on. You don’t always learn the best ways to cope when you are a child. But with time and awareness, you can learn healthier ways to deal with stress.
What are some ways you use to cope with stress? Let us know in the comments.