|photo (c) Kaitlin J. Martin|
We humans use various devices to cope with stress. Often they are things we consume – caffeine, alcohol, sugar, tobacco, food in general...but it can be any behavior that changes the way we feel. Even something great for you like exercise, reading or meditation can help in the short term by boosting your ability to handle what is coming at you. Or become a problem if we do it over and over without resolution of the stress.
Misconceptions arise from the belief that if something disturbing is present or on the horizon, we can shut out the stress by shutting out the feelings we have now. In fact, once the stressor signs into our consciousness it needs to be released for the feelings to stop.
Openness is the ultimate coping. You accept the cause of the stress, observe it, diffuse it without a fight, and then release it -- the sooner the better. Your coping mechanism, whatever that happens to be, should increase your connectivity, not lower it.
We all have choices, that is one of the gifts we are given for a purpose. I am not going to be the one to say, “this is bad to do,” “that is good to do.” Or “this makes you a label and you have to go to a meeting.” Only you can know why you do what you're doing and how it works, but I hope the guidance above can begin to help you utilize the tools you choose in a healthier more productive way.
For example I am writing this under the influence of the caffeine I seek out in the morning, which I tell myself helps me from falling asleep during meditation and keeps me flowing faster when I am writing this now. I also often need a little help focusing.However, if I say I need another cup of coffee because I'm listening to somebody and not paying attention and feeling sleepy and bored, I really need to deal with my lack of attention and appreciation and gratitude for this other person and listen. The coffee is just excusing an error on my part...editing this now, I resisted cup #3, which was really an excuse to procrastinate disguised as a beverage, and jumped in. No longer interested in more coffee!
Same with needing a drink because you had a bad day… release that energy first and enjoy your social time so much more because you are not re-hashing and making things even worse. You may recognize a law of attraction principle here too... beat the drum of what stresses you out and the universe can only deliver more of the same. Above all be good to yourself when faced with challenging circumstances! Compassion begins at home, when you give yourself space to heal, it heals those around you as well.
Want to work on this together? Contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org