Updated on 3/3/2023
Adversity is an inevitable part of life. Although challenging, adversity is essential as it helps us persevere beyond difficult life experiences. The more we experience hardships and misfortune, the more we recognize the favorable circumstances that life has in store for us. Nevertheless, difficulties can still get the best of our mental health.
With the world around us constantly changing, it is important to take the time and reflect on our emotional states. Challenging times always lie ahead, emphasizing the importance of our awareness of healthy coping mechanisms during high stress or overwhelming situations.
Stress, Substance Use and Self-Medicating
Stress is a significant risk factor that plays into the development of substance use, addiction and, inevitably, relapse. Many individuals that struggle to cope with stressful situations turn to substance use as an attempt to self-medicate. While it may seem like a way to experience temporary relief from unpleasant feelings, this only exacerbates mental health issues over time.
Attempting to self-medicate is problematic for several reasons. First, using alcohol or other substances even one time can cause drastic changes in brain wiring and functioning. Nearly all brain areas are affected, especially those associated with identifying pleasure and motivating behavior. The brain recognizes substances as a catalyst for intense feelings of pleasure, causing the brain to seek out substance use behavior repeatedly. Self-medicating with substances is a dangerous contributor to chemical dependency and addiction development.
Another concern with self-medicating is that it does not work to fix any underlying issues. Instead, substance use only masks the problem and worsens it. Recovery from self-medicating must work to find healthy coping strategies to replace the dangerous self-medicating behaviors.
6 Healthy Ways to Maintain Mental Health
No matter where you are at in your mental health journey, there are always things that you can be doing to keep your mental health in check. Rather than waiting to improve your mental health until something negative escalates in your life, set aside time weekly for deep, personal reflection.
Positive mental health can help individuals realize their full potential, cope with stress in healthy ways, work more productively and make more meaningful connections with their life experiences. You can advocate for your mental wellness a number of ways.
1. Limit your exposure to technology and media.
Growing up in a society where phones and social media are necessary, it can be challenging to recognize their adverse effects on mental health. Work on limiting your exposure to technology, especially social media. You can do this by monitoring your screen time, enjoying phone-free dinners or leaving your phone outside your bedroom as you go to sleep.
2. Focus on fueling your body.
Especially when times get tough, we often neglect properly nourishing our bodies. Maintain your mental health by eating a more balanced diet, drinking more water and finding time to exercise. Healthy food is essential for a healthy mind and body.
3. Set aside time for social connection.
It is normal for people to respond to stressful life experiences by isolating themselves. Although you may want to just take a break from the chaos in daily life and stay in, social support can make all the difference in your mental health. Set aside time in your schedule for community with loved ones and discuss what is happening in your life. Social support aids mental wellness and protects against addiction and substance use relapse.
4. Switch up your nightly routine.
If you are struggling with your mental health, try to switch up your nightly routine. If you do not have a consistent pattern, this is your sign to create one. Nightly routines are essential as they allow you to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Try your best to get six to eight hours of sleep, as your body functions off of restorative sleep.
5. Practice awareness.
Mindfulness techniques are crucial for maintaining positive mental health. Regularly practicing meditation can rewire your brain to respond to adversity in a more positive and gratifying way. Mindfulness can teach you to suspend judgment for yourself and others as you recognize the power in the present moment.
6. Evaluate your coping skills.
Specific coping skills, such as deep breathing, do not work for everyone. It is essential to notice what coping skills are working for you and which ones are not. Luckily, endless healthy coping strategies are available to practice during challenging times. Some coping skills might include:
- Spending time in nature
- Listening to music
- Art therapy
- Moving your body by dancing, running or stretching
- Focusing on humor
- Practicing relaxation techniques
- Spending time on your hobbies
Casa Palmera is an alcohol, drug and mental health rehabilitation center. We design individualized treatment programs tailored to your specific needs and treatment goals. No matter where you are on your treatment journey, there is a program for everyone here. To learn more about our facility, give us a call today at (855) 508-0473.