• Regina Rhodes

Ways to Stress Cope - Even In Times of Social Unrest

Failing to address the outbreak-expanded unemployment insurance, a one-time economic stimulus, a moratorium on rent payments in public housing are influential factors that will sustain and intensify protests around the country, as job opportunities stagnate and families face eviction from public housing.

In these restlessness times, it is essential, now more than ever, to cope with stress. Coping mechanisms are the strategies people often use in the face of stress and/or trauma to help manage painful or difficult emotions. Coping mechanisms can help people adjust to stressful events while assisting them in maintaining their emotional well-being.

What Is A Coping Mechanism?

As we understand, significant life changes invite or pressures us to interact with our immediate world in new ways. To grow, we need to change our belief systems to allow for new responding and experiencing levels.

Challenging events, such as a pandemic, social unrest, the death of a loved one, or job loss, can cause most people to feel grief or distress.

But even positive stimulated events—having a child, job promotion, and acceptance into school—can lead to significant amounts of stress.

Whether those situations involved something as serious as a loved one dying or something as simple as breaking up with a partner can trigger us to use a coping mechanism to get over the feelings and emotions that we are experiencing.

Some coping mechanisms are positive ones. They are beneficial, useful, and constructive, producing a positive outcome. However, other coping mechanisms are unfavorable, harmful, unhealthy, and harmful mechanisms that create a negative result.

Although a positive coping mechanism is a right way of overcoming a problem, instinctually, people choose harmful coping mechanisms instead. This is because, while they don’t offer long-term solutions to issues, unhealthy coping mechanisms do produce an immediate effect, one that reduces your stress in the short term.

Unfortunately, in doing so, using a negative coping mechanism only conceals the stress and difficult emotions for a short period. They actually cause the dysfunction to increase over time by maintaining and strengthening it.

Utilizing Coping Mechanisms:

Maladaptive and Adaptive

Adaptive coping strategies generally involve confronting problems directly, making reasonably realistic appraisals of problems, recognizing and changing unhealthy emotional reactions, and trying to prevent adverse effects on the body. Maladaptive coping skills are usually counterproductive or cause negative consequences. They often work in the short term, but in the grand scheme of things cause trouble. Some examples of maladaptive coping are: avoiding, drinking, drugs, binging on foods that we find comfort in, impulsive decisions, and in some cases, self-harm.

Consider when life troubles hit you? Do you face it head on, or do you avoid having to deal with it? Do you think it over for awhile and then let it go, or do you ruminate (deeply think) about it? Do you actively withdraw in food, shopping, drinking or do you take a 30 minute walk and brush it off?

As imperfect beings, we are capable of doing all of these things. That is okay. But we don't want to lean towards maladaptive behaviors as they have more negative consequences in your life, it may be time to examine, reflect and consider moving forward with a new mindful routine.

The best way to develop positive coping strategies is to see a counselor. Counselors can help you to change the way that you feel and think about certain situations so that you can cope with them in more positive ways. 

Types of Coping Mechanisms

1. Emotionally supportive relationships

It is always helpful to talk to those with unbiased perspectives to guide you back to a neutral standpoint. Exploring external support to replace self-isolating and internalizing stress can significantly reduce a difficult situation's adverse effects.

2.Lowering your expectations

Life comes in waves; learn to accept the ups, downs, and give yourself room for imperfection and even uncontrollable circumstances.

3.Physical activity

Consider sweating as "pain leaving the body"; those challenges that bogged you down will soon feel weightless as your body naturally undergoes stress relief! Try running, yoga, swimming, walking, dance, and many other physical activity types can help you cope with stress and the aftereffects of traumatic stress.

4.Engaging in problem-solving

The problem usually comes before the stress; let's identify the problem, causing stress, and then developing and putting into action potential solutions for effectively managing it.


Check out our "How To Live Mindfully" Blog and consider practicing meditation, or other calming techniques, sitting in nature, journaling, or listening to calming music.

Common Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms To Watch Out For!

  • Escape: Withdrawing from friends and becoming socially isolated to cope with anxiety or stress.

  • Unhealthy self-soothing: Moderation is the key! Any habit in excess may turn into an unhealthy addiction if it becomes a habit to self-soothe.

  • Numbing: Intentionally drowning out emotions to override distress, engaging in activities such as eating junk food, excessive alcohol use, or using drugs.

  • Compulsions and risk-taking: Seeking an adrenaline rush through compulsive or risk-taking behaviors such as gambling, unsafe sex, experimenting with drugs, or reckless driving.

  • Self-harm: Engaging in self-harming behaviors to cope with extreme stress or trauma.

Positive Coping Mechanism Are Necessary, Here's Why!

If someone is going through a tough time, positive coping patterns provide extra resources that can help them deal with the demand of a stressor. 

Whenever you feel stressed or afraid, you should confront your fears and stop yourself from running away. By remaining in the situation, you will eventually learn that anxiety abates over time. Although a negative coping mechanism may bring you instant relief, it will only hinder your ability more forward in a positive manner.

Seeing A Counselor!

If you experience stress and don’t know how to cope, a therapist or other mental health professional can help you develop and improve your coping skills.

Therapists can provide assistance and information about coping skills. Therapy sessions can be a safe, nonjudgmental environment for people to explore the coping methods they rely on and determine how they benefit or hinder stress management.

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