10 Unhealthy Coping Skills

10 Unhealthy Coping Skills | Expressions Counselling

In my previous blog post, I wrote about healthy coping skills. On the contrary, unhealthy coping skills make us feel good in the moment, however, they serve no long term benefit. They may lead to bad habits or even addiction. When you numb out negative emotions or pain, it only helps temporarily and comes back stronger later. 

  1. Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking – These will soothe the pain temporarily, but when the effects wear off, the emotions will still be there. Constantly coping with these could lead to addiction. 
  2. Binge Eating – Stress eating is very common but most are left with more painful feelings of regret and shame.
  3. Gambling – The rush of excitement from the reward will wear off and can have consequences, such as feelings of regret and guilt.
  4. Isolating from Friends and Family – Isolating yourself is a vicious cycle. The more you isolate from others, the worse you feel.
  5. Avoiding Emotions – Avoidance reinforces the idea that negative emotions are bad. They are not bad and will only come back stronger if pushed away. 
  6. Self-criticism– You beat yourself down by criticizing yourself. Self-criticism will only make you feel worse. Instead, try self-compassion. 
  7. Doomscrolling – This is the tendency to continue scrolling through social media or bad news even though what you see brings up difficult emotions. 
  8. Toxic Positivity – Maintaining a ‘positive thoughts only’ mindset does not help process tough emotions. Negative emotions are not bad. 
  9. Overworking – Working beyond your capacity and work hours will lead to burnout and will reinforce the stress. 
  10. Over-relying on Others – When your happiness is fully dependent on others to the point where you are not happy on your own, it will be difficult to cope in the future with life’s adversities. 


We are all human. You, the reader. Me, the writer and the counsellor. That means that we have all used both healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms in our lives. How do you cope? What do you turn to when life gets difficult? Reach out to a counsellor if you need help kicking unhealthy habits and want to cope in a more healthy and beneficial way. 

Jordana Glotman

Jordana Glotman is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at Expressions Counselling. She is passionate about working with individuals to overcome anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, life transitions, and relationship issues. She sees clients in-person at our Burnaby and North Vancouver locations as well as online.

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