Maladaptive Coping Skills

We all naturally look for ways to cope with our problems, hence the term “coping skills”. Some coping skills are healthy, positive, and help us get through difficult times. Unfortunately, some coping skills are maladaptive, meaning they are bad for us. Especially during the pandemic, we are all looking for ways to get through challenges at work and at home. Take a look at the list of healthy or “adaptive” coping skills and maladaptive coping skills. If you see one of your go to coping strategies on the maladaptive side, try to replace it with one from the healthy coping skills list!

Maladaptive Coping Skills vs. Healthy Coping Skills

Eating junk food
Eating healthy snacks: nuts, fruits, and vegetables

Drinking alcohol
Drinking tea, coffee, water or fresh juice

Screaming at the dog
Taking the dog for a walk

Obsessing over things you can’t change
Making small changes to things you can

Beating yourself up with words
Showing yourself compassion with words

Biting your nails
Getting your nails done as a treat

Sleeping too much
Waking up early to exercise

Online shopping
Organizing your clothes to donate old stuff

Blaming others
Taking responsibility

Punching the wall
Squeezing a stress ball

Overextending yourself
Setting healthy boundaries

Worrying about what may happen in the
future
Practicing mindfulness

Picking at your skin
Adult coloring books, journaling or drawing

Hanging around complainers
Spending time with positive peopled


Staying busy to push away feelings
Accepting feelings, knowing they will pass

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