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Avoiding Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Trauma

Stress strikes everyone, and the habits we develop to cope with stress are labeled coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, many trauma victims find relief without considering the resolution of the actions they choose. Not considering their options of avoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma, alcohol or drugs are available and familiar forms of quick and easy stress relief. Many individuals who have been traumatized are not thinking clearly, clouded with depression, anxiety, and traumatic memories. 

Growing up where alcohol was a proper relaxation tool, many trauma victims find themselves led to addiction unintentionally. For example, veterans often found alcohol an acceptable form of stress relief in the military, so they felt alcohol consumption was okay. Yet, unknowingly, unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma affect the fragile mental health of victims and leave them vulnerable to drug addiction. Education is key to turning unhealthy coping into positive and healthy choices. 

What are Coping Mechanisms? 

Coping mechanisms are behaviors utilized to cope with stress, negativity, trauma, or any unpleasant experience. Unfortunately, without education to process emotions, feelings, and anxiety healthily, many of us do not know how to cope with trauma. 

One of the unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma involves reaching out to drugs or alcohol for relief. Unfortunately, not understanding the choice between healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms is a breeding ground for addiction.

Avoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma is challenging if the concept of coping mechanisms is unfamiliar. However, many individuals use behaviors modeled in the past by respected adults as ways to cope. Addiction is often a generational disease.  In addition, learning to make positive choices requires practice and the development of self-control. Many of these skills are unknown until treatment. 

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma is just the beginning. Coping skills are the foundation for good mental health. 

The goal is to recognize, identify and remember how to process emotions, feelings, and stress in a positive, healthy manner. Time to reflect, relax and consider the ramifications of what coping mechanism to use takes practice. 

Healthy coping mechanisms are constructive, engage the mind, and promote positivity. For example, hobbies, exercise, volunteer work, and meditation are positive coping mechanisms. Meanwhile, choosing to turn to a healthy coping mechanism immediately after stress appears can avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. Finally, choosing healthy coping mechanisms builds self-esteem and self-confidence. 

On the contrary, instant relief stands as the source of choosing unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. Without education, understanding, and the strength to choose, turning to alcohol, drugs, and risky behaviors are instinctive. Harmful coping mechanisms could be the only way to relieve pain, fear, and memories. Trauma is hurtful, and relief is the goal for victims. 

Examples of Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Addiction is one of the primary unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. Unfortunately, addiction, or self-medication, takes on many faces, and alcohol and drugs are only some of the vices involved. Gambling, shopping, and eating addictions are just as dangerous. Also, self-harm is an unhealthy coping mechanism where traumatized victims find relief in hurting themselves. Mental illness symptoms can also interfere with making healthy choices to cope with trauma.  

Other common harmful or unhealthy coping mechanisms include:

  • Isolation behaviors. Distancing those who love and care for you, keeping to yourself, and closing yourself off from others is dangerous. Isolation can lead to increased depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Also, those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often use this behavior as an unhealthy coping mechanism for trauma.
  • Projection behavior. This defensive behavior averts stress and negative emotions and feelings from themselves. Projecting behaviors onto other people to avoid admitting the same behavior is within yourself is unhealthy, and avoiding coping with the reality of the situation. Projection and avoidance are unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. 
  • The selective rejection of information defines denial. A protective defense and unhealthy coping mechanism for trauma, denial offers a false sense of security. Detaching the self from reality allows one to ignore shame, self-loathing, and low self-esteem. 

Examples of Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Positive coping mechanisms can include exercise, journaling, or expressing yourself artistically. Learning to identify feelings, emotions, or stress and how to process them healthily is the beginning. There are many options available to create healthy coping mechanisms in advance to choose. In short, leaving the unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma behind will be much easier once you prepare. 

Healthy coping mechanisms can include:

  • Household chores
  • Educational courses
  • Watching movies
  • Helping others
  • Developing hobbies or collections
  • Exercise, yoga, and meditation
  • Learning how to cook
  • Gardening

How to Change Unhealthy Coping Skills

Leaving unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma behind is a matter of self-determination. Choosing to reach new goals and maintain a sober and healthy lifestyle began with detox, treatment, and maybe aftercare. Therapy can help initiate the energy to make new goals and plans to achieve them. Support groups are good for moral support in making positive decisions through shared experiences. 

Leave Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms Behind in Knoxville, TN

Begin your new sober lifestyle with healthy and positive coping mechanisms for trauma. If you are a trauma victim and have been using unhealthy coping mechanisms, we have programs to change your way of life. Feel good about your choices while building the foundation for a relapse-free sober lifestyle with Tennessee Valley Recovery. Contact us today.