Students who want to achieve are typically terrified of failing, which is understandable. Parents of kids are also terrified of their children failing academically, because so much of today’s modern society appears to rely on academic performance for upward mobility. Not only does it create stress but also affects their self esteem and self-image. Along with students a lot of working professionals also deal with the same issue.

A coping mechanism, coping behaviour, or coping strategy is a pattern of behaviour used to shield or insulate oneself from psychological harm caused by a difficulty in one’s life. Coping methods can be beneficial or harmful. You may have heard the terms ‘good’ and ‘unhealthy’ (or destructive) coping mechanisms before. Adaptive and maladaptive behaviours are terms used by mental health practitioners to describe these two types of behaviours.

A good, adaptive, or healthy coping mechanism is one that results in the problem being addressed, or at the very least dealt with, in a way that decreases stress and injury.

A faulty, maladaptive, unhealthy, or harmful coping mechanism is one that does not fix the problem in the long run and may even worsen the situation. In the short term, unhealthy coping mechanisms may appear to be having the desired impact. It’s easy to think of negative coping as a set of activities that are often seen as “wrong” or “destructive.” Excessive drug use, seclusion, overeating, procrastination, and other habits are examples of these behaviours. While these actions definitely play a part in negative coping, they do not give a comprehensive picture of the phenomenon. Negative coping includes the following practises that encourage avoidance:

1. By numbing the grieving feelings experienced on a daily basis or in reaction to specific events or memories.

2. By ignoring experiences, memories, or ideas entirely in order to avoid being exposed to negative feelings.

When confronted with stressful conditions, humans employ a wide range of coping techniques. Some of the most frequent ones are listed below.

Staying away from everything that isn’t “good.”

People who insist on being with people who aren’t completely and constantly optimistic aren’t as emotionally well as they appear. In truth, avoiding everything that isn’t positive is an avoidance strategy, not a means of cultivating a holy life. Mentally strong people have a neutral perspective that allows them to perceive and accept life’s ups and downs, difficulties and victories, pleasures and sorrows.

Believing in doom and gloom.

Jumping to conclusions may appear to be the issue, but it is actually a symptom. Catastrophizing is a self-defence technique for those who do it. They’re attempting to anticipate and then respond to a perceived threat before it has the opportunity to impact them. This indicates that they are extremely self-conscious about their appearance.

When you’re dealing with a lot of individuals that irritate and bother you, keeping to yourself may appear to be the healthiest and most effective alternative. But the truth is that connection is one of our most basic wants. Furthermore, true resilience is the capacity to coexist with a variety of individuals without being negatively effected by each of them to the point that solitude becomes the preferred state of being. There are certain persons with whom limits must be formed and distance must be maintained, but these are the exceptions.

A social comparison that is negative.

People with poor self-esteem may frequently seek out those who they believe are doing “worse” than them in order to feel better by comparison. This finally backfires, , When that individual comes into touch with someone they consider to be doing “better” than them, their feeling of value is diminished. That downward social comparison may appear to be alleviating feelings of inferiority at the time (“Well, at least I’m not as horrible as so-and-so”), but it is actually fostering the inferiority complex.

 Re-enacting the past in a romanticised manner.

There was a reason you left a relationship, a career, or a place. Trying to forget about your past to the point that you’re nostalgic for a period when you weren’t truly happy is a technique of diverting your attention away from the present moment and attempting to return to a familiar zone of comfort.

Reacting excessively to little difficulties.

People who erupt at seemingly little triggers are frequently carrying deep wells of unspoken emotions. Their error is in believing that crying over spilt milk will fix the problem (maybe literally). It is not going to happen. Getting your sentiments out in a method that does not directly address the source of your feelings does not resolve them; rather, it temporarily diffuses them.

Worrying as a kind of self-protection

People who overthink and worry excessively are generally attempting to protect themselves from something they are afraid of. The difficulty is that fear is generally an emotion rather than an occurrence or condition. They project a need for control onto an imagined future condition because they feel out of control in the current moment and don’t know how to deal with it. Worrying is your mind’s method of getting ready for something that will happen later. What you may not recognise is that the sensation you’re terrified of is already there in your body.

Keeping problems at bay

 Though it may appear to be a more convenient approach to cope with present challenges, putting them aside will eventually bring them to the surface again, maybe as a trigger. Avoidance coping is deemed maladaptive (or harmful) because it frequently exacerbates stress without assisting a person in dealing with the stressors. 


 If something we have to do stresses us out, we may put it off or even try to avoid thinking about it. On the other hand, we can’t seem to stop thinking about what has to be done. Rather, we’ll be worried about it until it’s finished.

Excessive sleeping 

This is another diversion that may seem better in the moment, comparable to ignoring troubles. Your body need not just relaxation but also physical movement.

Abuse of drugs or alcohol

 Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to a downward spiral. Psychoactive chemicals interfere with the brain’s chemical messengers, altering their normal transmission, synthesis, and reabsorption. For example, dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters involved in pleasure, motivation, memory, reward processing, movement, and learning capacities) are frequently boosted. Drug usage can also enhance GABA, a natural tranquillizer, or its polar opposite, norepinephrine (adrenaline), which are also natural tranquillizers. Excessive use of stimulants and depressants can lead to serious health issues, dependence, overdosing, and deaths.

Eating too much or too little.

To perform during the day, your body need nutrition and fuel. Anything in excess of or below the authorised dosage might result in serious health problems or illness.

Staying away from any reminders of the trauma

 It appears logical and understandable to want to avoid unpleasant memories or sensations. This avoidance, however, does not work since trauma may take over a person’s life if they try to run away from it. Avoidance behaviour also stops people from improving their ability to cope with trauma and its effects in a healthy way.

Hazardous or Dangerous Habits 

Another approach to cope is to engage in risky or dangerous behaviours. When someone irritates them, for example, they may drive excessively fast or start a fight. The individual may injure herself or others as a result of this.

These are few negative coping mechanisms that are used mostly by students and working professionals.


  • Dr. Bhavna Barmi

    Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Therapist

    Happiness Studio

    Dr. Bhavna Barmi is an internationally renowned child and clinical psychologist with over 25 years of practice. Dr. Barmi has worked with over 1 lakh clients, both individuals and families, successfully advising them on personality growth, relationships management, clinical concerns, self-esteem issues. Her expertise ranges from being a relationship expert, to NLP and hypnotherapy. She is the founder of Happiness Studios-Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Well-Being and the co-founder of PsyCare - A Neuropsychiatry Hospital. Dr Barmi is associated as a senior clinical psychologist with the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi. Recognising her immense contribution and service, Dr Barmi has been bestowed with many prestigious awards including the Gold Medal Award for Excellence in the field of Psychology, EPA Award (European Psychiatric Association) and Starstell Award for best practices in Psychology. She is the Associate Editor: The Heart of the Matter, Journal of Prevention and Holistic Management. Dr Barmi also lends her expertise to both print and digital media as a respected expert on psychological consultation.