Since the coronavirus was declared a national pandemic in the United States, life has been all but turned upside down. From social isolation to job loss, millions of Americans are struggling to cope with the many changes that have taken place over the past few months. Needless to say, the pandemic has taken a psychological toll on everyone.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling frustrated, angry, restless, fearful, anxious, or sad considering all that has happened. It’s when you allow yourself to remain trapped in that negative energy that problems start to arise physically, emotionally, personally, and professionally.
That’s why it is imperative to find ways to cope with these emotions. All too often, however, people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms which only make things worse. Below is a look at some of the most common yet unhealthy ways to cope with overwhelming emotions during uncertain times:
Food is essential for the nourishment of your mind and body, but too much of it, especially the wrong types can cause problems. When you’re feeling sad or stressed, it’s not uncommon to indulge in foods that bring you comfort. These are often junk foods that are high in salt, sugar, fat, and processed ingredients. This, of course, leads to weight gain and an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other life-altering diseases.
When you’re experiencing a lot of overwhelming emotions, it’s natural to want to take some time to yourself. Too much time alone, however, is never ideal. You begin to keep to yourself and stop participating in things you enjoy and interacting with people you love. This social void then causes you to feel lonely and depressed.
A person who is unsure of how to cope with their feelings might turn to aggression as a method of coping. They internalize their feelings and instead lash out at others to in some way make themselves feel better. This type of behavior, however, can result in the breakdown of important personal and professional relationships.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol are an unhealthy coping mechanism that people use when trying to “escape” their emotional pain. It may start off as a glass of wine or a can of beer each night and then escalate to a bottle or a 6-pack. For others, it might be illicit drugs or prescription meds. It goes from a casual act to dependency and then full-blown addiction. If you’ve started using drugs or alcohol to cope take a self assessment for addiction and seek assistance right away.
Believe it or not, some people find emotional relief by inflicting harm on themselves. This might include cutting themselves, pulling out their hair, branding themselves, picking scabs, banging their head against the wall, and even drinking harmful chemicals or substances.
When you’re under a lot of stress you’re more easily tempted to take extreme risks despite the impact it may have on your wellbeing. Some people might start gambling, having unprotected sex, driving recklessly, stealing, violence, vandalism, and more.
What to Do About It
There are healthy ways to cope with your overwhelming emotions. Here are a few quick suggestions listed below:
- Talk to Someone – Let your feelings out by expressing them to someone you trust whether it’s a friend, family member, religious leader, therapist, or support group.
- Solve What You Can – Identify the stressors in your life at the moment and create a plan that will help you to eliminate or at least reduce the stress. For example, if you’re unemployed, filing for unemployment could help to ease your frustrations and put some money in your pocket.
- Find Ways to Relax – When you find yourself feeling emotionally overwhelmed, take a moment to find something relaxing to do. This could be taking a walk, working in your garden, watching a funny movie, reading a good book, or taking a warm bath.
The coronavirus came like a thief in the night and stole our physical, emotional, and financial health. So, if you’re feeling emotionally taxed right now, it’s completely understandable. As you cope with your feelings, it is imperative that you steer clear of the above-discussed unhealthy coping strategies and instead try likes like seeking support, identifying triggers, solving problems, and finding ways to unwind.