Healthy Coping Versus Numbing

Coping Strategies for Work-Related Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic - HR  Daily Advisor

This past year has been full of chaos, grief, anxiety, fear, unknowns, and more. In response, we as humans turn to a variety of things to calm our inner and outer turmoil. Some responses offer the relief we need, whereas others are an attempt to avoid our feelings of discomfort, only to return.

What is numbing?

Numbing is a technique we often use to suppress or ignore emotions. It can take many forms, for example this could involve diving into a bag of chips or ice cream, grabbing a couple beers or glasses of wine, spending more time in the office, or binging a TV show. Don’t get me wrong, a glass of wine or a TV show can be a fun and healthy self-care mechanism in moderation, however when done in an effort to avoid hard circumstances we are numbing. Lately for me when I have experienced life to be too uncomfortable, I find myself spending more time scrolling my phone and becoming more lax on my mourning routine, placing more value on sleep than setting myself up well for the day. My scrolling and sleeping is not a release, it does not help me feel better, instead it only serves to fuel the fire. My emotions and thoughts are still there, boiling under the surface.

So how do we cope?

Coping skills involve learning how to manage feelings so we can handle life’s challenges. This means remaining present in the moment, giving space to feel and acknowledge our experience and emotions and dealing with them in a healthy manner.

  1. First, you must establish some strategies that are effective for you. This could involve blowing off some steam by exercising, buying yourself a bouquet of flowers, painting, processing your thoughts by journaling, taking some deep breaths, taking a nap, or talking with a friend.
  2. Different seasons and experiences may require different coping mechanisms, have several different ideas on hand. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  3. Our coping strategies require some effort and practice, keep leaning in, your thoughts and feelings are important and deserve to be heard.

Ultimately the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms comes down to how they make you feel in the present and long term. You anger, disappointment, sadness, and fear are a normal part of life. Take the time to be gentle with yourself and acknowledge what you are feeling, you can do hard things my friend.

**The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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