4 Mistakes People Make in Coping with Stress
Try to avoid these common pitfalls when dealing with stress.
Posted Jun 16, 2014
1. Withdrawing from fun activities.
When people have a lot going on, they often start skipping or saying "no" to fun activities. On one level it makes sense to reduce activities when you're busy. However, if you scale back too much you're going to reduce your sources of positive emotions. Positive emotions provide a buffer against the negative effects of stress. Therefore don't start totally skipping the things you enjoy. Make an effort to plan some enjoyable activities, such as attending a concert or a show. These will at least give you something to look forward to.
2. Getting grumpy with key support people.
Stress tends to increase irritability. This can lead to taking out your stress on the support people you rely on to get you through tough times. The worst case scenario is that you get so irritable with your significant other that they start threatening to break up with you. If this happens, it would obviously greatly increase your stress. On days you come home in a stressed out state, make an effort to have some physical contact with loved ones when you first see each other. You're less likely to succumb to getting irritated with them if you've activated your oxytocin through physical contact.
3. Skipping breaks.
Skipping breaks is a foolish strategy. You might achieve 5-10 minutes of extra work, but when you skip breaks you'll start to lose the ability to see the big picture. You'll also end up feeling more irritable, and increase your vulnerability to number two. Short breaks help restore your willpower.
4. Putting off dealing with problems.
The urge to put off dealing with problems is understandable. However, avoidance coping usually generates additional stress in the long run. Notice when you avoid things like having difficult, but necessary, conversations. Does this lead to feeling anxious for longer than needbe? Would it reduce your stress overall to take care of issues promptly?
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You can read my prior articles for Psychology Today here.