Stress plays a big role in the lives we lead. From being a motivator, encouraging us to do more to being a detriment to our performance—stress can swing either way. In situations when stress becomes excessive, often we are tempted to turn to coping mechanisms which may not always be the best.

Being aware of when you’re stressed can help you manage better. But, in doing so it is critical to understand how some coping mechanisms can have a negative impact on us. Mechanisms like…

1. Turning to smoking, alcohol, or other substances
Instead of helping you cope, these impact the mind and the body adversely. Building a dependency on any substance creates complications, and the process of letting these go can be rather difficult.

What can you do instead: Integrate habits like exercising into your daily life as stress relievers.

2. Self-criticism
Don’t engage in any negative perceptions about yourself. Constantly pointing out things that are wrong in you will only deplete your self-esteem and confidence.

What you can do instead: Evaluate how you can change replace your weaknesses with strengths, and build skills.

3. Blaming others for the situation you’re in…
You must steer yourself away from excessively criticizing others for the situations you find yourself in. Blaming others and the situations takes away your sense of agency in being able to exert any control over your environment.

What you can do instead: Make a realistic assessment of your situation so that you can determine what you can do manage it better.

4. Compromising on your sleep and appetite
In the face of stressful situations, people often sleep less or don’t eat well. This will only trample on your mood and hamper productivity.

Nutritious food will only give you the strength to deal with stressful times. So don’t compromise on it!

What you can do instead: Find ways to ensure you get good rest even when things get really stressful, and continue to maintain healthy eating patterns.

5. Stopping all channels of communication
It is easy to fall into the trap of restricting conversations, socialization, and seeking support and help from friends and family—because you don’t want to trouble them, you do not feel like it, or it feels like they might not be able to understand.

It is more fruitful to reach out to others and keep sharing and discussing what you are thinking and feeling. This will help you to appraise situations, find solutions, and cope with the thoughts and emotions you are having.

Cope with stress by integrating elements that are helpful and not those that would can negatively affect your health and well-being.