At the end of a previous post Mentally Preparing for the New Year, I emphasized using healthy coping mechanisms as way to be mentally prepared. I decided to write a separate post about unhealthy and healthy coping mechanisms to talk more about them. Unhealthy coping mechanisms are basically destructive to you in one or more ways/areas of your life. They do not help you to deal with the problem, they only help you to avoid or mask the issues. Healthy coping mechanisms help you address and manage your problems. They can help you to preserve and/or restore yourself.
In my past, I relied heavily on some unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with various situations. My main unhealthy methods were overworking and isolating myself. I am a workaholic, perfectionist, Type A personality, all of it. It is easy for me to focus all of my time and energy toward my work and forget to relax. Even when I am on breaks, it is hard for me to actually relax because I always feel I should be doing something more important. So in order to avoid feeling my emotions or thinking about whatever situation, I would overworked myself as a way to run from the problem. Surrounding myself with work and assignments kept me busy. There were times when I was busy but not being productive. Keeping busy, whether it was productive or not, took time and energy away from sitting and dealing with my sadness and hurt. On the other hand, I had no problem feeling anger. It fueled my energy.
Fun fact: When I get angry, I reach one of my highest levels of independence and productivity.
In addition to overworking myself, isolation was my next go-to. Being an introverted only child, I had no choice but to be alone for parts of my life. I learned to enjoy my own company and being alone. Sometimes my alone time turn into isolation. I am known for turning off my phone for periods of time and going ghost on people for a while. Being alone helps me to think in a quiet environment but when I isolate myself it is not productive or constructive thinking I am doing. It is more of a replay of events that does nothing to help me, they just make me feel worse.
Now I have been working to alter my unhealthy coping mechanisms to be healthier. I try not overwork myself to avoid my problems and I try not to isolate myself too often. I address my problems and emotions directly either through writing or talking to myself to process things. (Yes talking to yourself actually works and you are not “crazy”). Expressing my emotions and giving myself validation helps me to feel them without feeling weak for being sad. Working to be productive so I am not sitting in pity for myself helps me to feel like I am doing something important. Being aware of when I am working to be productive or when I am working to avoid emotions is something I continuously work on. Sometimes working to be productive is not assignments or projects, it is simply taking care of myself and becoming a better person. Alone time in a healthy range is good for me but when I feel like I am isolating myself and/or things are too overwhelming I reach to people for support, laughter, or just the comfort of their energy. I have even went to a therapist multiple times while I was in undergrad. There are definitely times when I have still overworked and isolated myself but I am trying to be more aware and stop myself. I have also incorporated other coping mechanisms in my life over the years, such as yoga and watching funny videos/movies. Some of my coping mechanisms overlap with some of my methods of self-care, which I talked about in this post Self-Care.
Time to Focus on You:
What are some unhealthy coping mechanisms that you have been trying work on? What are some of your healthy coping mechanisms?
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