I read a quote recently that said, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” This is true in so many ways. Many of us do not know how to effectively cope with stress; I know I’m in that boat. Some of the negative ways we cope with stress is through Compulsive Spending, Emotional Eating, Self-Harm, Drugs, Alcohol, and Caffeine.
Compulsive Spending and Emotional Eating or in my case not eating are probably two of the negative ways I cope with stress the most. I like to shop whether I’m sad or happy so I definitely have a problem, but I do notice that when I am stressed, or sad or upset I’ll go buy myself a little something. I typically will buy candles, shoes, or a bag or two. I’ve recognized this behavior and tried to invest in stocks or do some research on stocks to counter this behavior.
Emotional Eating or not eating in my case is something that I struggle with. People will look at me and be like, “Oh you lost weight you must be exercising.” The reality of it is I’m probably not eating. When I’m stressed, sad, upset, or angry I lose my appetite and the thought of food just makes me want to throw up. This is probably one of the worst habits I’ve developed when it comes to coping with stress. It pains me to say this but I have recently found myself throwing up or dry heaving, which is something I never use to do. This is also the habit that I feel I have the least control over. I have tried to counter this by making sure if I do not eat I have a smoothie with some type of protein and nutrients. I also make myself snack on fruits and nuts to help get me through the day. I feel like throwing up or dry heaving is typically associated with some type of anxiety attack so I’ve started deep breathing. It might sound like something simple but it helps my mind focus on something else and has helped calm my nerves tremendously.
Self-Harm is probably the first negative coping mechanism that comes to mind for most people. For many people self-harm helps to release emotional pain or stress. Self-harm in my mind is more than causing visible physical injuries to your body. Self-harm can be using sex or pornography in a way that can hurt you or your partner. Self-harm can be not eating or over-eating, or pushing your body beyond its physical limits. I have coped with stress through self-harm and I know that might sound alarming, but it has not been in a way most people would think of. I will go out and exercise and push my body to its limits even though I haven’t eaten anything of substance in two days. When I push my body to its limits it seems like one of the few times that I have any type of relief from the hamster wheel my brain is on. Please don’t be like me. This is not something I recommend anyone do. I just want you to know where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. I recognize what my issues are and I’m addressing them; I wish nothing but the same for you.
Drugs, alcohol, and caffeine can also be harmful coping mechanisms. I know some of you may be surprised to see caffeine in the same category as drugs and alcohol, but I feel like it just provides a more acceptable “high”. I also had a run in with caffeine that made me feel as if I was on drugs. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and can improve your concentration as well as lessen fatigue, but these benefits are only temporary. I’ve always felt that too much of something can have a negative impact on your overall health. Caffeine is used as a crutch, it’s addictive and when you don’t have it the effects vanish causing you to want more. I’m obviously not an advocate of alcohol and drugs, but nor am I an advocate of caffeine. I’d just be leery of using caffeine to cope with stress or fatigue.
I don’t want anyone to feel pity for me. I share this information to let you know that you are not alone. God has equipped you with everything you need; read his word, pray, and practice effective coping mechanism and I have no doubt He will show up in your life in a mighty way. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your children, spouse, and other loved ones. You can’t pour into anyone from an empty glass.