Living with Chronic Pain

How to Avoid Maladaptive Coping Strategies

Source: Healthline

Most people will experience trauma, stress, or a significant change at some point in their life. Coping strategies can be healthy and beneficial during difficult times. However, maladaptive coping techniques are harmful, ineffective, and can exacerbate the situation. Maladaptive coping strategies may be learned at a young age or developed to survive a traumatic event.

Examples of maladaptive coping strategies include passive aggressiveness, withdrawal, self-harm, maladaptive daydreaming, substance abuse, avoidance, and inappropriate displays of anger. Understanding how to avoid maladaptive coping strategies is essential for dealing with emotions healthily. 

Replace with adaptive coping strategies

The easiest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Replacing maladaptive behavior with adaptive behavior is difficult. It takes time and effort, but is necessary to avoid poor wellbeing. Examples of adaptive coping strategies include journaling, physical activity, meditation, mindfulness, and boundary setting. 

Reduce stress

Maladaptive coping strategies frequently arise as a response to high amounts of stress. To avoid these unhealthy coping mechanisms, stress should be reduced. Although many sources of stress are uncontrollable, decreasing the amount or frequency of stress-inducing activities and limiting the time spent in stressful situations is beneficial in lowering the urge to partake in maladaptive coping strategies. 

Manage emotions

Maladaptive coping strategies are often a way of dealing with difficult emotions. Certain situations cannot be changed, but the way a person handles their emotions can. When faced with difficult emotions, use techniques such as mindfulness, acceptance, and self-compassion to prevent the need for maladaptive coping mechanisms.

Consider psychological counseling

Transforming maladaptive coping mechanisms can be difficult. It may require the assistance of a professional. Talking to a counselor about coping mechanisms helps with learning various practices to effectively deal with situations in a nonjudgmental setting. 

Additional sources:, Parenting for Brains, and Verywell Health

Did you find this helpful?
You may also like