There are some people who naturally know how to deal with pain and grief in a healthy, positive way. Others, however, either haven’t been taught healthy coping mechanisms or have turned to negative coping mechanisms for so long that they respond poorly when they are faced with the loss of a loved one or another type of traumatic event. Some people may even be using negative coping mechanisms while thinking that they are dealing with their grief in a healthy way. If you believe that you or someone you know may be using negative coping mechanisms to deal with grief, take a look below to identify some of the most commonly used ones.
1. Substance Abuse
It’s not unusual for people to turn to drugs or alcohol in times of darkness. These types of substances help those who are suffering emotionally to numb their feelings and to escape from the overwhelming sadness that is consuming them. While this may seem like a good thing to some, it’s obviously dangerous and can lead to death if the habit is allowed to continue. Those dealing with substance abuse should immediately reach out for help to end their dependence and learn healthy coping mechanisms that will replace drugs and alcohol.
It is absolutely okay to want to be alone. There is no rule book that says you have to be around people 24/7 while you are going through the grieving process. Everyone is different and some people may want to have more social interaction in their lives while other people may want less. However, too little social interaction and absolute isolation will only worsen the mindset that you are currently in. You do not have to have someone around all the time but you do need to make an effort to have friends and family around frequently so you can avoid having a depressive episode and possibly becoming suicidal.
Self-mutilation typically occurs for two reasons: the person who is grieving either feels like they have no control over the situation or they feel that they need something to distract them from their emotional pain. Those who self-harm find that causing themselves harm helps them to have control over their body and gives them a type of physical pain to focus on. This is not healthy and should be stopped immediately. If you have trouble ending the cycle of self-harm, visit a mental health professional who can help you quit.
4. Remaining Too Busy
Keeping yourself occupied during the grieving process can be helpful to a degree. Being too busy, on the other hand, is not a coping mechanism. It is avoidance. Be honest with yourself. Have you been engaging in activities throughout the day to prevent yourself from thinking about your loss? Have you had a moment to yourself ever since you experienced the loss? If not, you are doing too much and you need to give yourself time to truly evaluate and process the emotions that you are choosing to ignore.
5. Overeat or Eat Nothing at All
The appetite is a tricky thing, especially when it comes to mental health. People who overeat typically do so to comfort themselves since it is the only coping mechanism that they have developed. Those who eat nothing at all, much like those who self-harm, do so to feel a kind of control over their lives. Both of these habits can have terrible consequences and those engaging in these habits need to seek help immediately before things get out of their control.
Negative coping mechanisms are abundant and it is important that you identify them and recognize them in yourself before you use them to deal with grief. If you are engaging in any of the above behaviors to deal with your loss, seek out help and replace these behaviors with healthy coping mechanisms.