As adults, we never imagined life would get this busy, and sometimes it all becomes difficult to manage. Often it feels as if we have a million and one things to juggle, from work, family responsibilities and commitments, and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. The good news is that you are not alone, so many adults are in the same boat, and some are better at coping with it. When life starts to get the better of you and you are burdened by anguish and stress, it's time to take a step back and practice healthy coping responses.


Simply put, coping responses or coping strategies is the behaviour you display or how to act when stressed out. A stressful situation is often negative, and sometimes it is easier to respond negatively to it. Practising healthy coping responses and avoiding adverse reactions is the key to coping well with stress and maintaining a healthy state of mind.


Below we will explore the different ways of coping with stress, learn how to identify negative responses, and suggest some valuable, healthy coping skills to help you manage your mental load more efficiently. 

How To Identify Negative Coping Responses

When we find ourselves in stressful situations, we often feel attacked, resulting in a negative coping response, similar to a negative defence mechanism. Negative coping responses to stress are not as helpful as positive ones; sure, they may result in a good feeling and good emotion in the short term, but they are more self-destructive and may result in feelings of remorse or regret. They are ultimately adding to your already stressful mental load. If your responses to stressful situations or events make you feel more overwhelmed or powerless, it's time to change and learn healthier coping skills that appeal to you.


Identifying negative coping strategies is the first step to practising healthier behaviour when encountering stress. If you are aware of the behaviour, you can stop indulging and try to react better. As with any new skill, practice makes perfect, and awareness is the key to changing behaviour from negative to positive.


Common Negative Coping Responses

Here is a list of common negative responses to stress to help you identify your coping actions. However, we must highlight that negative coping behaviour is not limited to this list; if the steps make you feel worse, it is probably negative.


  1. Indulging in excessive harmful behaviour to escape, such as;
  • Drinking Alcohol
  • Taking recreational drugs or abusing prescription medication.
  1. Chewing Your Fingernails
  2. Chronic smoking or use of other tobacco products.
  3. Becoming aggressive or violent
  4. Overindulging in food
  5. Undereating or weight loss
  6. Driving recklessly
  7. Easily irritable, snappy or shouting at family, spouse, kids and friends.
  8. Avoiding and withdrawing from  friends and family
  9. Sleeping too much
  10. Watching endless hours of television
  11. Extremely critical of yourself


If you indulge in harmful behaviours or substances or are overwhelmed by negative emotions, get in touch with your doctor to discuss options and help you get your mental health on track 


Healthy Positive Coping Mechanisms To Deal With Your Stress

Figuring out how you handle stress can help you make healthy choices. If you're craving a sugary snack, you could go for a walk. Exercise can relieve stress and burn calories. We take a look at healthy coping mechanisms to practice in stressful situations.


1. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is the best way to relax your mind and relieve stress. It also releases hormones which will help improve your mood and increase your resilience. Try to work out for at least 20 to 30 minutes daily.


2. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is the key to regulating your mood and gives you the energy to cope better with basic life stressors. Establish a sleep schedule and get to bed on time.

3. Eat Well-Balanced Meals and Limit Intoxicants & Stimulants

Eating regular, well-balanced meals will help you feel less drained. Take your vitamins and try prepping meals, so you don't indulge in unhealthy snacks.


Limit your intake of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. These stimulants may give you a quick fix for stress relief, but they have more harmful effects on you in the long run.

4. Take Care of Yourself and Your Body

In addition to getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating well, you must practice self-care. If you feel better about yourself, you will be better equipped to handle the stressors of everyday life.


Taking a break if you feel too overwhelmed will also help with a quick release. Indulge in something that brings you joy for 10 to 15 mins; for example: go for a walk, play a short game, read a bit, chat with a friend, etc. Also, carve out some time for hobbies or activities you love.

5. Establish Work / Life Balance

Work can become very stressful and demanding when deadlines loom, and things are going pear-shaped. Establishing healthy boundaries in the workplace does not mean you are not a team player; it just means you will function more efficiently and get the job done. Learn more about establishing healthy coping strategies in the workplace


Be Mindful of Your Behaviour

It's easy to fall back on behavioral patterns ingrained in you. The trick is to be mindful. You are making progress if you are aware of and identify the behavior. As with any new skill, practice makes perfect, and awareness is the key to changing behavior from negative to positive.



Author's Bio: 

Jack warner