6 Unhealthy Coping Skills That Stop You From Getting Promoted

Photo: Claudia Barbosa | Pexels
Stressed woman with hand on her forehead

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

Stress has a way of worming 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 lives.

A 2013 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 for all is that unhealthy coping skills for stress can stall your career and damage your well-being.

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

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

Here are 6 unhealthy coping skills that stop you from getting promoted:

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.

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2. Overreacting or under-reacting.

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

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

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 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.

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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 it eventually creates more negative emotions that lead to more frustration, lack of motivation, and discouragement.

Photo: LightField Studios via Getty

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.

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. 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.

You can change your unhealthy reactions to stress.

You won’t always avoid the kind of stresses that occur on the job. However, you can avoid 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.

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Kris Henderson is a personal development coach for My Anxiety Link.