When you’re a family caregiver, you might feel forced to cope with stress and unmet needs with something called a coping mechanism. If your choices aren’t the best ones, they might actually be harmful for you.
Examples of Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Sometimes unhealthy coping mechanisms are obvious, such as taking up smoking or smoking more than you usually do. Other unhealthy coping mechanisms are less obvious, like scrolling through your social media accounts without any real goal. These types of coping mechanisms are considered unhealthy because they’re not doing anything good for you and they may even be harmful. Some other examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms could include:
- Procrastinating necessary projects
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Relying on sugar or caffeine to keep you going
- Avoiding meals
- Sleep irregularities
- Isolating yourself
Why They’re Not Healthy
Unhealthy coping mechanisms can be unhealthy for you for a variety of reasons. For example, procrastinating might be an unhealthy coping mechanism for you because it causes you extreme stress. Other habits are unhealthy for more obvious reasons, such as sugar and caffeine creating havoc in your body. Take the time to examine much of what you do because you enjoy it or because it helps you cope and then assess whether it’s causing you harm.
What Can You Do Instead?
If a coping mechanism is causing you harm, take the time to list two or three things you can replace that habit with. For example, instead of mindlessly scrolling through your social media account, try setting a timer. When the timer goes off, you’re done. If sleep problems are a coping mechanism for you, work out what you need to do in order to correct your sleep issues.
Experiment to Find the Right Solution for Your Situation
You might find that you need to experiment a bit to find the right answer for your situation. Try one or two different options before you commit to that as a full-fledged solution. You might even find that you’ve got more than one alternative. If it helps, make a list so that you can refer back to the solutions that worked well for you.
Remember that coping mechanisms that might be okay for other people could still be unhealthy for you. This is about finding the right answers for you and your caregiving situation with your elderly family member. If you need help, make sure that you ask for it so that you don’t have to do this alone.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Ashburn, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.