Over use of coping method.

by Jeff Schaffhner
(Boston, MA)


On one page you say that over-using any one method for coping with stress can become harmful over time. Learn to build coping skills that stand the test of time.

I have been using deep breathing to cope with stress now for more than 20 years. Are you saying that overuse of this one technique can be harmful? Please explain.

Comments for Over use of coping method.

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Aug 28, 2015

by: Candi

Good question!

The way you are using deep breathing to cope sounds healthy and effective. Overuse would be relying on that technique to the point that it interferes with your life in a negative way.

Here is an example. Suppose a person (let's call him Bob) used deep breathing to cope with stress, and began doing deep breathing exercises for many hours every day. Bob's family wanted to spend time with him, but he refused because he wanted to do deep breathing so much that he had no time for his family. Bob was fired from his job because he was doing deep breathing every day at work and he didn't get any work done. Bob's nutrition was poor because he did deep breathing instead of eating. Bob was suffering in many areas as a result of overusing deep breathing for coping. Then, because he was stressed about the problems with family, work, and health, he did deep breathing exercises even MORE to try to cope.

This is an extreme example of overuse of a technique, but I think it illustrates the difference between having an effective technique that is used frequently for coping (healthy!) and using a coping technique so much that it becomes destructive (overuse!).

There is another way that using a coping technique can be unhealthy. It can be a problem if there are skills that a person needs to develop (such as communication skills or learning to deal with a particular stressor head on) but the person stays in the habit of just using familiar coping techniques rather than growing in these areas. A technique may be effective, but if it is used repeatedly instead of handling situations, it wouldn't be healthy.

Here is an example about "Nelly." In this case, let's say Nelly found that at work she was struggling because she did not know how to use a computer. Her boss asked her to take a computer course, but Nelly didn't want to. Instead of learning computer skills, Nelly decided to do deep breathing instead. She felt better because the deep breathing helped relieve stress. She continued to avoid developing better computer skills. This would be unhealthy use of an otherwise good coping technique.

I hope this answers your question!


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