Drinks, Drugs, Complicated Coping Strategies

Image of Possibly Alcoholic WomanIn contrast to my post about Ten Great Coping Strategies, today I’d like to talk about a glass of wine and other coping strategies that can be very comforting and useful in moderation but can cause whole new
problems in excess. Remember there are two fundamentally different ways to deal with stress in our lives: 1) direct strategies that help us master the problem at hand 2) indirect strategies that help us stay emotionally balanced in the meantime.

In my last post, I suggested ten of these indirect coping strategies for folks to explore. Today I’ll discuss some others, ones that you may have even stumbled upon yourself, but these come with a caution. Pursuing them to excess can lead to checking out and avoiding the challenges in your life and hurting yourself in various ways.

Shopping and treating yourself to other pleasant and relaxing things can be a great way to put a smile on your face and help you feel better about yourself. But if you go too crazy with it, you can really lose track of the deeper things and do some real damage to your bank account.

Working Hard: Pouring your nervous energy into your work can be a tremendously useful thing to do and has no doubt fueled some of the world’s greatest endeavors. Be careful, however, that it doesn’t become too exclusive of a habit. We all know a few workaholics who are at a complete loss with anything outside of the office.

Drinking a glass of wine at the end of the day or on the weekend is a classic way to feel cheerful and relaxed. It’s part of the way we connect with people and mark special moments. But drinking too much can dangerously cloud your thinking, sabotage your mood over the long run, and lead to real physical damage.

Eating: Food, of course, is a necessity and can bring us instant pleasure or the deeper comfort of those home-cooked meals we remember as kids. Yet depending on it for emotional satisfaction can devolve into binge eating, obesity, and poor self-esteem.

Taking Medicines especially those for anxiety or insomnia can help you bear some of the most paralyzing emotions and continue to function in life. Limiting your use and communicating carefully with your doctor is essential because these medications can quickly cloud your thinking and be hard to stop once you start.

Drugs: Recreational drugs can also soothe anxiety, as well as relieve pain, and be an easy source of excitement and euphoria. Because of this, moderation is notoriously difficult to maintain. Any use breaks the law and exposes a person to a range of legal consequences, and excess use can lead to agonizing addictions and deadly consequences.

So, folks, please skip the drugs, work with the ten coping strategies I laid out in my last post, and be moderate and responsible in the way you eat, drink, shop, apply yourself to work, and approach medicine. Your mental health is in the balance.

–Dr. Adam