When Coping Mechanisms Cause More Stress

As I tried to find new coping mechanisms, ways to deal with my stress and emotions, I stumbled upon some practices that I don’t really like, even though I’ve been told time and time again that I would. I decided to take a morning meditation class this Spring semester at school. I figured it would open me up to a new way of approaching mindfulness, relaxation, plus, I'll get school credit for it. In the past, succumbing to the practice of meditation has only resulted in me being bored and staring at the ceiling. Since trying it again this semester, I now know that it does not work for me and that it actually can be a lot more intense than I thought.  

There is tons of media hype about mindfulness as a cure to feelings of stress and emotional despair. Obviously, all is not grounded in scientific evidence but how many times have you heard or read that meditation is something you ought to try to combat these things. I am guilty of this as I have written articles about stress relieving, stating meditation as one of those options. Though meditation is something that can have the potential to do good for many, it is not a one-size-fits-all case. There is very little research done on why meditation works differently on different people, but from my experience meditation can also make you feel worse by causing emotional difficulties.

Most times I meditate, it is a guided meditation where I listen to a voice telling me how and what to focus on. Meditation is defined as a calm state where you should be focusing on one thing or nothing to maintain zen. (whatever that means). It’s been scientifically proven that individuals who struggle with mental illness are at a higher risk when they meditate.  Meditation allows for people to access the recesses of their minds and memories of past trauma, psychosis and delusions can transmit into a state of manic behavior or thoughts. I have experienced this through meditating, and since then I find that I don’t get what I should from these sessions.

While I appreciate advice and tips for stress relieving and coping, I realize that not everything works the same for everyone. There is a huge focus on meditation and yoga as strategies for stress and emotional relief, especially in recent years. People swear up and down that it works and that everyone must try it. This is false, and I am here to say that even things that are seen as good can be scary and that's okay as long as you find something that works for you. Whether it is exercising, reading, going for walks, sleeping, you name it, it may not always be healthy for you because it causes tension or stress in another area. Not all coping mechanisms or stress relieving strategies are useful for everyone. Find something that works for you in the ways that you need and stick to it.

What are your favorite ways to relieve stress?