Developing Healthy Coping Skills for Good Mental Health and Success in Recovery
Developing healthy coping skills helps us learn how to confront our problems head-on to reduce stress, not just avoid it. Good coping skills are key to cultivating good mental health and finding long term success in recovery.
What Is Mental Health?
Life is full of challenges that have the potential to overwhelm us and upset the balance of our mental state. We all experience hardships at times and it is normal for these to cause difficult emotions like sadness, frustration, and anxiety. Having good mental health doesn’t mean never being upset or going through hard times. It means being able to experience adversity and then having the resilience to bounce back. Just as physically healthy people are better able to recover from an injury or illness, people with strong mental health are better able to handle stress, overcome challenges, maintain and build strong relationships, and recover from difficulties and setbacks.
Developing Healthy Coping Skills
We know that one of the main contributing factors leading to substance abuse is a lack of healthy coping skills. Psychologists describe coping skills as any behavior a person employs to try to manage the stress in their life. Coping skills can be broken down into two categories: adaptive and maladaptive. Adaptive coping skills increase our functioning while decreasing our perceived level of stress. They include things like:
- Journal writing
Maladaptive coping skills only relieve symptoms temporarily and they don’t actually address the root causes of stress. Maladaptive coping skills can include any avoidance behaviors such as:
- Using alcohol
- Using drugs
- Social withdrawal
Developing healthy, adaptive coping strategies is one of the most important components of building good mental health and succeeding long term in recovery. Learning how to actually cope with stress and not just avoid it allows us to face our challenges and lessen their negative impacts in our lives. We can even begin to use hardships as an opportunity to learn and grow. Most importantly for recovery, learning to cope with stress in healthy ways replaces those avoidance behaviors, like drinking and using drugs, which only ever made our problems worse.
Just like physical health, good mental health must be practiced and cultivated over time. We don’t expect to have good physical health without exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. These healthy habits accumulate over time and add up to good health. The same goes for developing good mental health. Developing and practicing healthy coping skills adds up over time helping us to become more resilient and able to take on stress when life gets tough.
6 Healthy Coping Skills That Can Help You Deal With Stress in a Constructive Way:
Studies show that exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Getting regular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce tension, elevate and stabilize mood, and improve self-esteem
Getting enough sleep at night causes the body to reduce its production of stress hormones. The brain chemicals associated with deep sleep are the same ones that tell the body it’s okay to calm down.
A trained mental health professional can provide a fresh perspective on issues in your life. Therapy helps you better understand your own emotions and learn ways to work through stressors and challenges in a healthier way.
Meditation is an excellent coping tool for life’s challenges. It can be a quick fix to help you calm down and get centered in stressful moments. And it can also be a daily practice that builds long term mental health and resilience to stress.
Spending time with people who support and share your healthy habits is vital to maintaining them. Good friends and supportive family members are people who will be there to listen when life’s inevitable challenges come up. Building strong relationships with positive people who share your desire to cope in healthy ways will help reinforce your sober lifestyle and successful recovery.
Attending 12 step meetings is an essential coping strategy for anyone in recovery. AA and NA meetings provide fellowship with others who can relate to your experience of addiction and recovery. Meetings are a place where you can open up about your feelings when life gets tough. They also give you the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others who have developed healthy coping skills to deal with stress without turning to drugs and alcohol.
Learn Healthy Coping Skills at Legacy Healing Center
At Legacy Healing Center our approach to addiction treatment addresses root causes and facilitates fundamental and lasting change. Helping our patients learn healthy coping skills builds good mental health and resilience allowing them to cope with stress without turning to drugs and alcohol. To learn more about our approach and how we can help you change your life for good, call today! (888) 534-2295