Dealing with negative emotions often requires finding coping skills that work for you. These are important tools that help people process anxiety, anger, and sadness. However, when someone turns to a negative or destructive coping skill, it can prolong the feelings and make them worse. It also creates a bad habit that is hard to break.
For example, my response to anxiety for a long time was to lie down and scroll on social media. Not only did it bring my day to a halt and make me feel extremely tired, it also exposed me to images and content that made me feel worse. If you have a similar problem of relying on a coping skill that exacerbates the problem, I recommend making a list of positive coping methods and reminding yourself to rely on them. This can create better long-term habits. Some of the ones that have worked for me:
- Avoid opening social media. Instead, I try to focus my energy on reading a book or watching a movie. This will keep my attention off of a stressor and focus it elsewhere.
- Call a friend. Speaking to a friend or family member can help me work through a difficult situation or put it in perspective.
- Journal. Working through feelings in a journal helps express what I’m feeling and put it into words.
- Plan a self-care night. Planning something relaxing helps take my mind off of a stressor and creates something else to put my attention towards.
- Cook, clean, or work on a project. Being productive can provide the dopamine hit that looking at social media (or another harmful coping method) would otherwise provide.
Has anyone else dealt with negative coping skills? And if so, what alternative has worked better for you?