Coping mechanisms are defined as the particular methods a person uses to deal with stresses or unanticipated situations. Developing healthy, positive coping mechanisms is an important part of the recovery process and should begin during treatment. Substance abuse is known to be one of the most negative but common ways to handle difficult situations due to life stressors. Other examples of negative coping mechanisms include: denial, avoidance, procrastination, passive-aggressiveness, and displacement.

People with addiction often struggle in their recovery because giving up substances often creates a void in their daily life. In order to fill this void, it is important to explore coping mechanisms that are constructive, positive, and life-affirming. Here are some examples of ways to positively cope with difficult life situations and stressors:

Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and has several benefits. Exercising can help a person maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of health problems, assist with sleep, and improve mood. Depression, a common co-occurring disorder with addiction, can be improved with exercise as well. It can help enhance self-esteem and reduce stress.

Journaling: Journaling helps a person gain insight to their feelings. It can assist in recovery process by offering a safe place to express thoughts and provides an opportunity to relax in a quiet environment. Journaling also ensures that feelings are not bottled up and held inside.

Deep Breathing: Deep breathing is effective in reducing anxious, frustrated, and angry feelings. It also assists in reducing stress and negative feelings. To do so, breathe through the diaphragm, inhale deeply, and exhale slowly.

Meditation: Meditation is a positive coping mechanism that assists with grounding and mindfulness. Meditation can be for 5 minutes or 1 hour, whichever you choose. To meditate, find a quiet and relaxing place and focus on breathing. It can also be useful to concentrate on hearing, feeling, and smelling what is around you. Meditation helps with both mental and physical well-being.

Art: Art is a great way to creatively express feelings. Art can also assist in understanding mental conflict and resolution. There is no artistic ability required to engage in art. Art can include painting, drawing, sculpture, and other creative activities, such as scrapbooking, woodworking, collaging, floral arranging, sewing, and photography.

Reading books, listening to music, cleaning/organizing, playing games, watching movies, and cooking are other great ways to effectively cope with difficult life situations. Replacing destructive and negative coping mechanisms with effective and positive ways to deal with life stressors is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Doing so will keep you on the long and prosperous road of recovery!

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago, IL in the Lincoln Park/Lakeview area. New Hope Recovery Center provides clients with Art Therapy, Meditation and Yoga while in the Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program and Partial Hospitalization Program. To learn more about New Hope Recovery Center's program call us at 773-883-3916 or contact us via email:

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center