Woman sitting in shadow with head in hands | Substance Use | Grief Counseling |Evolve Counseling | Centennial CO 80112

Life is a rollercoaster.  Sometimes we get swept into its undercurrent and find ourselves struggling to cope; barely able to keep our heads above water.  Life can be painful.  We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle, that we stop taking care of ourselves.  Instead, we can find ourselves reaching for things that numb.  

We can end up drinking too much, overusing or misusing medications, overeating, binge-watching Netflix.  The list can go on and on.  These things help us provide an illusion that we are coping.  These strategies are alluring because they temporarily change our state of mind.  They can distract or numb us from overwhelming life stressors.  This sounds great, right?  But what we don’t realize is that they can actually backfire.

By chronically numbing out, we are actually avoiding facing, dealing, or feeling what is going on.   You may be asking, why is this so bad?  Well, these types of things, when done excessively can actually add to overwhelming feelings and stress.   

Over time you start needing more and more to achieve the same numbing effect.  This consumes a lot of time and energy.  It starts impacting your relationships and getting in the way of things that used to be important.  You become angry and distant.  You feel like you are barely hanging on throughout the day until you can resume your numbing activity of choice.  

As you can see, this thing that once was a stress reliever can start to become a source of more stress.  All the while avoiding dealing with the thing you were stressed about in the first place.   This can feel impossible to overcome, which can lead to more drinking, more using, more overeating, more Netflix.  The cycle can feel endless.  

So how do we avoid this?  How can we deal with life and overwhelming stressors so we don’t get swept up in this cycle?  One thing I like I call “maintenance coping”.  By this, I mean doing something every day that makes you feel good, calm, or peaceful.  The key is to do these things on a regular basis and not just when you are feeling stressed out.  As we create time for ourselves, we are actually improving our ability to deal with stress more effectively.  

So instead of a “putting out fires” approach to stress management, take a preventative approach.  Incorporate things into your daily life that you enjoy, that make you laugh, that you find calming. This creates balance in life, so when things get hectic and stressful, you already have built-in self-care to help you make it through.  

Some simple ways you can incorporate self-care include:

  • listen to a funny show, podcast, etc.
  • drink a cup of warm tea/coffee
  • go for a walk
  • turn off your phone
  • think of 3 things you’re grateful for
  • draw or color
  • take a warm bath/shower
  • read a book

Photo by Xavier Sotomayor on Unsplash

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88 Inverness Circle East, Bldg. H #105
Centennial, CO 80112

kelly@evolvecounselingco.com
(720) 506-1568

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