It might sound obvious. The better you can cope with the challenges of life, the higher your level of life satisfaction is. However, it’s not always that obvious in our day to day life.
It’s not always that easy to remember to use healthy coping mechanisms when you’re in the middle of stressful circumstances in your life. Furthermore, most of us don’t even think about coping mechanisms. We don’t give the way we cope with life much thought. We just cope.
To cope means the ability to deal effectively with something difficult.
Yet, if you’re using drugs, alcohol, or another unhealthy means of coping, then remove the word “effectively” from the above sentence. If you’re hurting yourself in the process of coping with your life, then it’s safe to say that you’re not coping with life effectively.
Support Socially Leads to Higher Life Satisfaction
Certainly, throughout life, there will be various circumstances that will require the need to cope with life. Yet, a study completed in 2012, found that seeking out social supports was related to having higher level of life satisfaction later. More specifically, the study revealed that having healthy social coping mechanisms was a primary factor in feeling satisfied about one’s life. Of course, life satisfaction includes a wide array of conditions, including physical and mental health.
Although the study surveyed adolescents, it’s plausible that the same results would be found among adults as well. The participants in the study were surveyed on their global life satisfaction and coping. They were surveyed once and then again five months later.
Those who reported reaching out for social support at the first survey also reported having a higher life satisfaction level at the second survey. The findings suggest the importance of making sure that people have specific social coping mechanisms and a supportive social network.
Social support seeking in particular was found to be the most influential in a one’s overall sense of life satisfaction. This is especially true for those struggling with an addiction and/or a mental illness.
Why Healthy Coping Mechanisms Are so Important
Without healthy coping mechanisms to manage challenging emotions, emotions are expressed inappropriately or they are internalized, behavior can be immature, and growth can become stifled. The support of friends and family members can provide healthy coping mechanisms to manage the demands of life appropriately. In fact, this is one of the greatest benefits of a recovery community.
The support of a 12-step, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, for example, can facilitate insight, healing, and hope. It can provide a container within which healing takes place. Most importantly, a community can teach new members ways to cope with life, stress, and emotions effectively.
It is frequently not having the right coping mechanism that makes life challenging. When we are grieving the loss of a loved one, for instance, we might turn to drinking as a way to forget the sadness. And the continued use of drinking might easily bring our satisfaction with life to a low level.
Another example is turning to a prescribed pain reliever as a means for feeling better physically and emotionally. Of course, having to rely upon prescription drugs in order to feel good inside would also affect one’s level of life satisfaction.
It’s important to point out that the way that one copes with life is often the same way one copes with feelings. In fact, your ability to cope with feelings is intimately connected to your ability to cope with stress.
Having healthy coping mechanisms can arm us with what we need to face the challenges in life as well as the difficult emotions that might come with them. Here are examples of ways to effectively deal with a difficult situation or feeling:
- Talk it through with someone
- Find ways to relax; a relaxed mind can offer ideas and insights to the problem.
- Research answers to the problem.
- Keep a journal
- Have a mentor/sponsor to help you walk through challenges.
These are some ideas for coping effectively in your life. If having healthy coping mechanisms does in fact lead to experiencing higher levels of life satisfaction, then perhaps one of the suggestions above can improve the way you feel about your life.
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