Don't Let These 6 Unhealthy Coping Skills Stall Your Career When Stress Strikes

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Do you have unhealthy coping skills when it comes to dealing with stress?

Stress has a way of worming its way into every aspect of our lives and the workplace is no exception. It might not be as stressful as home life, but it does play a large part in our daily life.

A survey paid for by Everest College showed that 83 percent of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress.

The stress points may vary among industries and different roles, but one aspect that holds true for all is that unhealthy coping skills for stress can stall your career.

Regardless of what kind of work you do, whether you're an employer or employee, effective stress management isn’t always easy and requires time and practice.

RELATED: How To Stop Trying To Avoid Work Stress (And Use It To Your Advantage, Instead)

What are some common sources of work stress that lead to unhealthy coping skills?

We are all unique, so what sets you off may not necessarily bother your co-worker in the least, even though you are dealing with the same situation.

There are, however, some common sources of workplace stress:

Heavy workloads
Tight or unreasonable deadlines
Low salaries
Interpersonal issues with co-workers
Tedious work or work that isn’t challenging
Lack of training
Little recognition for satisfactory job performance
Few opportunities for growth or advancement
Inability to make your own decisions related to your job
Downsizing or job insecurity

I can say, without a doubt, that throughout my work history, I’ve had to deal with quite a few of these. In fact, as I was listing them, it brought to mind many situations where I felt stressed because of them. How about you?

When working through these conditions, you must handle them with healthy coping skills because if you don’t, you don't relieve any stress.

Instead, your unhealthy coping strategies will often lead to complications and higher stress levels.

Here are 6 unhealthy coping skills that can stall your career when you're especially stressed.

1. Difficulty communicating with others.

Are you easily frustrated? When you're stressed, it can hinder effective communication.

When emotions are high, people can have difficulty choosing the right words to express themselves appropriately.

It’s also easy for them to misunderstand another person’s intentions or misinterpret what is trying to be communicated.

RELATED: 41 Ways To Reduce Work Stress And Be A Happier Person

2. Overreacting or under-reacting.

Overreacting or under-reacting are self-defense mechanisms used when someone feels out of control or overwhelmed in a situation.

For example, lashing out when things don’t go your way. The justification is that maybe if one yells or causes an uproar, it will quickly resolve the problem.

Obviously, this is not an appropriate or effective response to stress.

Conversely, under-reacting isn’t effective, either. If you tend to stuff your feelings down, chances are good you will run into the same negative situations repeatedly.

Under-reacting also puts you at risk of being taken advantage of because you haven’t set boundaries.

3. Substance abuse.

This includes smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Unfortunately, this unhealthy coping skill is all too common under stress.

Using any substance to numb your emotions is an unhealthy and potentially dangerous coping mechanism. It might provide immediate relief to the stress you are feeling.

However, your work performance will be negatively affected in the long term. It could lead to addiction, depression, and other health problems.

4. Aggression.

It can be natural and even healthy to feel angry when warranted. However, destructive behavior — verbal abuse, harassment, and manipulation — will damage your relationships, physical health, and career.

It’s essential to manage the stress and appropriately deal with your feelings.

5. Avoiding the problem or situation.

"Sticking your head in the sand" or burying your feelings is not a healthy way to manage stressful situations.

It might give you a few minutes of reprieve, but eventually, it creates more negative emotions leading to more frustration, lack of motivation, and discouragement.

6. Procrastination.

Most people who procrastinate don’t want to or set out to procrastinate, but resort to it as a bad habit. The reasons can be varied.

For example, fear of failure, feeling overwhelmed, perfectionism, avoiding unpleasant tasks, unseen rewards, etc.

High levels of procrastination are associated with lower salaries, shorter durations of employment, and a greater likelihood of being unemployed or underemployed rather than working full‐time.

You can change your unhealthy reactions to stress.

You won’t always avoid the kind of stresses that occur on the job. However, what you can avoid is falling back on unhealthy coping skills that will stall your career.

By having good coping skills in place or working with an anxiety coach to discover and master new ways to handle stress, you can begin to change your behavior.

By controlling your reactions to stress, you can expect to be more successful in your career.

RELATED: 6 Causes Of Burnout To Avoid At WorkKris Henderson is a personal development coach. You can get your anxiety under control by taking the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, contact her.

This article was originally published at My Anxiety Link. Reprinted with permission from the author.