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Healthy vs. Unhealthy Ways to Cope

Throughout the ups and downs in life, it is essential to constantly check-in with ourselves, see how we’re feeling, express how we’re feeling, and create space for reflection. In the process of doing this, we may face a choice – consciously or unconsciously – to express our emotions in a healthy or an unhealthy way. Often, however, we may be too caught up in the moment to be mindful or aware of how we are choosing to express our emotions. This article will outline healthy and unhealthy ways to cope with life’s ups and downs; reflect on what works for you and how to make coping healthier for you. In general, the unhealthy ways to cope are not ideal, as they may exacerbate a problem or cause you more distress afterwards. The healthy ways to cope are meant to support you in reaching a point of healing and positive growth.

Ideas for Healthy Ways to Cope:

Talk About It

Although this may sound cliché, talking about how you are feeling is an incredible avenue for releasing what is on your mind. Once you are able to put it into words, you may notice that the emotions no longer hold power over you. When deciding who you would like to talk to about your emotions, consider who you feel most comfortable with, who you can trust, who is good at listening, and what type of environment would feel most like a “safe space” for you to have a vulnerable conversation.

Start a journal

Journaling is a great avenue for expressing and releasing emotions more independently and more privately. Even though when you are journaling there is no real other person you are talking to, by writing out your thoughts and feelings, you are going through a similar process of making sense of your feelings and releasing them onto the paper. The journal acts as your “safe space”. Sometimes it may even be helpful to draw or doodle artistically how you are feeling, if you find that words are not helpful in the moment.

Practice mindfulness or meditation

Life is full of emotions, and they are always changing. In order to have a constant source of calm in your routine, try adding in the practice of mindfulness or meditation. There are a number of beneficial apps that can be used at any time or place for short periods of mindfulness throughout your day. Try out these apps to get started: Calm, Take a Chill, Headspace, Pacifica, or Insight Timer

Unhealthy Ways to Cope:

Bottling Up Emotions

This may seem like common sense, but in practice, we may feel that the easiest way to deal with emotions is to bottle them up and continue forward with all our responsibilities and tasks. However, bottling up emotions does not allow you to properly express, cope, or understand how you are feeling. In the long run, if you do not take the time to express emotions and begin the process of coping, it will hurt your mental health and wellbeing.

Negative Mindset

Thinking that emotions are permanent or “predictive of the future, of who you are, or what you are meant to have” is a negative mindset that may bring you down and hinder you from coping ( Realize that emotions are temporary, and they do not define who you are.

Coping is a personal process, and every individual has their own preferences for how to express emotions and how to cope. However, use this article as a way to reflect on your own methods of coping and whether or not they may be helping or hurting your overall wellbeing.

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