Healthy vs. Unhealthy Ways of CopingMany of us are familiar with the McDonald’s commercial, which features the catchy phrase, “You deserve a break today.” If we’re honest, we’ll admit that many of us have turned to food (or other things) to cope with bad days or pain from past traumas.

But suppose we know the difference between unhealthy and healthy coping methods. In that case, we’ll be much more likely to overcome addiction.

Unhealthy Ways to Cope
If you’re stuck in addiction, you may embrace the unspoken belief of “avoid pain at all costs.” If your primary defense has been to stop acting out, unhealthy coping patterns will keep you from healing.

Here are some unhealthy ways to cope:

  • Arguing with others instead of accepting responsibility
  • Blaming others for your addiction
  • Escaping reality through gambling, shopping, or video games
  • Fantasizing about sex
  • Bingeing on TV shows
  • Overeating to deal with difficult emotions
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

Healthy Ways to Cope
Unfortunately, simply stopping unhealthy coping mechanisms does not give you the necessary skills to cope with stress and the pain of living in a fallen world. Not only does this make sobriety increasingly tricky, but it can also leave you even more vulnerable to relapse.

You must not only stop using whatever it was you were using to escape your pain but also learn how to cope with old triggers in new ways. Address your triggers and emotions so you can deal with the actual problem. By doing so, you will begin to regain power and no longer engage in other unhealthy secondary coping behaviors.

Here are some healthy ways to cope:

  • Attending a New Life Intensive
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Calling a friend or accountability partner
  • Memorizing Scripture
  • Praying to the Lord for strength
  • Reading The Life Recovery Bible
  • Talking about your feelings
  • Writing in a journal
  • Seeing a Christian coach

If you feel like you deserve a break and are tempted to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, instead, view pain as an opportunity for growth. God will transform your life as you turn away from harmful coping methods and turn toward healthy ones.

Let the words of the apostle Paul encourage you: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”—Philippians 1:6, NLT

by Steve Arterburn