What Are Defense Mechanisms and How Can They Affect Relationships?

What Are Defense Mechanisms and How Can They Affect Relationships?

Everyone faces moments in their relationships where they do not see eye to eye with the other person. Compromise usually resolves these issues. You might avoid certain behaviors or actions that previously caused problems in your relationships. However, in some cases, people develop maladaptive defense mechanisms. According to a book by StatPearls Publishing, “[T]he early identification of defense mechanisms can have great clinical significance.” Identifying defense mechanisms and processing the underlying causes can improve the effectiveness of treatments at Newport Beach Recovery Center.

What Are Defense Mechanisms?

The famous psychologists Sigmund and Anna Freud used the term “defense mechanism” to describe an unconscious process that protects the ego from internal or external stress. In modern psychology, defense mechanisms can indicate how a person may react to stressors and treatment. According to a study in Frontiers in Psychology, “More than half century of empirical research has demonstrated the impact of defensive functioning in psychological well-being, personality organization and treatment process-outcome.” How you automatically respond to pressure or stress within your environment often depends on what defenses you have developed.

Unconscious emotional defenses protect you by doing the following:

  • Helping you avoid situations that can cause pain or discomfort
  • Lessening the emotional impact of traumatic events
  • Keeping you from fixating on things you cannot change or control

However, the majority of defense mechanisms are inherently maladaptive. Risk-taking behaviors like substance abuse often manifest as an unhealthy defense against stress. By entering into treatment, you can heal from substance use disorder (SUD) and work to create more positive coping skills.

Common Types of Defense Mechanisms

Most people have unconscious mechanisms they use to decrease stress or emotional pain. In some cases, they may play a significant role in your ability to function from day to day. However, they can also cause social and relationship issues. Everyone is unique. Your defenses might look very different from the ones other people use.

Some of the different types of defense mechanisms include:

  • Acting out
  • Avoidance
  • Compensation
  • Conversion
  • Denial
  • Displacement
  • Humor
  • Identification
  • Intellectualization
  • Isolation
  • Projection
  • Rationalization
  • Regression
  • Repression
  • Sexualization
  • Schizoid fantasy
  • Splitting
  • Sublimation
  • Suppression

Many categories and sub-categories of defense mechanisms exist. You may unconsciously use some of these in your relationships to cope with stress related to recovery or other issues.

What Are Signs You Have Maladaptive Defense Mechanisms?

The cause and effects of defense mechanisms vary significantly from person to person. However, there are some noticeable signs that someone has a maladaptive defense against specific thoughts, feelings, behaviors, or situations. You may use unhealthy defense mechanisms if you do the following:

  • Gaslight and manipulate others
  • Act out
  • Become dismissive or argumentative
  • Self-isolate
  • Project personal issues onto others
  • Rationalize negative behaviors
  • Deny negative behaviors and beliefs

Often defense mechanisms have a negative effect on social relationships. In many cases, adverse defenses play a role in the development of SUD. Treatment for SUD can help clients learn healthier ways to avoid stress. You do not have to continue relying on defense mechanisms that will decrease your quality of life.

How Do Defense Mechanisms Affect Social Interactions?

Most defense functions provide some distance between you and the people, thoughts, or situations that might cause you distress. Unfortunately, this can lead to aggressive behaviors, self-isolating, and manipulative tactics. If you often feel victimized, you may shut yourself off from emotional intimacy with loved ones. Also, if you lash out during stressful social situations, it can make it harder for you to form healthy attachments. Rehabilitation will give you the tools you need to overcome defensive urges by teaching you the following:

  • Effective communication
  • Establishing and respecting social boundaries
  • Conflict resolution
  • Essential life skills
  • Mindfulness and grounding techniques

Once you have the skills in place to cope with your stress, you can begin to replace defense mechanisms with healthier behaviors.

How Can You Effectively Redirect Your Defenses?

Redirecting your thoughts or behaviors is one way to stop relying on unhelpful defense mechanisms. Your therapist can help you learn how to recognize defense mechanisms and their possible triggers. You can use that information to redirect your focus when you notice yourself slipping back into unhealthy thought patterns.

Some common ways people redirect their thoughts or behaviors include:

  • Using mindfulness-based grounding techniques to focus on the present moment
  • Focusing on positive experiences that directly contradict maladaptive thought patterns (a technique called thought-balancing)
  • Mentally taking a step back and looking at a situation objectively to determine the best way forward

By healthily diverting your defense mechanisms, you open yourself up to healing. You’ll find yourself engaging with your emotions instead of stifling them. It may feel painful and difficult at first, but it’s an important part of getting better.

Take Back Control of Your Behaviors

Defense mechanisms can control your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. However, you can change them by processing whatever underlying issues caused them to manifest. The dedicated care team at Newport Beach Recovery Center can help you overwrite maladaptive defenses and replace them. You do not have to continue living with the consequences of unhealthy defense mechanisms.

Defense mechanisms often interfere with relationships. If you find yourself frequently experiencing conflict with loved ones, you might have maladaptive defense mechanisms. In many cases, they stop people from communicating effectively and connecting on a deeper level with the people around them. Conflict resolution is an important skill taught in every level of care at Newport Beach Recovery Center. We can help you find healthier ways to avoid emotional distress without resorting to maladaptive defense mechanisms. This will allow you to slowly open yourself up to underlying issues. No matter where you are in your recovery, our team will guide you through identifying and overcoming self-destructive patterns. To learn more, call our office today at (888) 850-0363.

6 Ways to Overcome Emotional Fatigue During Rehabilitation

6 Ways to Overcome Emotional Fatigue During Rehabilitation

Recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) is hard work and requires a deep emotional investment. Some people have difficulty maintaining that level of mental and emotional engagement for long periods. The overexertion of emotions can cause burnout or emotional fatigue. Newport Beach Recovery Center prioritizes client safety and comfort. We ensure our clients have the emotional support and coping tools they need to fully engage in recovery and heal from SUD.

What Is Emotional Fatigue?

Emotional fatigue can affect anyone, and it involves a decreased ability to cope with emotionally stressful or uncomfortable situations. High emotional stress or significant lifestyle changes often contribute to emotional exhaustion. Additionally, if you grew up in emotionally stifling environments, you may experience emotional fatigue much faster.

You might feel unmotivated, depressed, and anxious, or you may have difficulty emotionally engaging. However, there are things you can do if you start to feel emotionally exhausted during treatment or aftercare. You can avoid feeling burnt out by doing the following:

  • Developing essential coping skills
  • Prioritizing your health and well-being
  • Moving past the fear of asking for help

Maintaining progress requires sustainable motivation and realistic recovery goals. Emotional relapse is one of the stages of relapse that can cause emotional fatigue. You might struggle with emotional relapse if you start to feel tired when monitoring your interactions, behaviors, and emotions. Collaborate with your care team and support system to learn practical coping skills to avoid the risk of relapse.

Common Causes and Signs of Emotional Fatigue

When you’re starting treatment, it’s important to know the factors that can make you more prone to emotional exhaustion. Certain health issues increase the risk of experiencing emotional fatigue, including:

  • Chronic pain and stress
  • Unhealthy eating habits or dehydration
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia
  • Lack of recommended exercise
  • Co-occurring mental health issues
  • Chronic illness or injury

When you’re prone to fatigue through any of these factors, you should learn about the symptoms of emotional burnout. Everyone reacts differently to this condition, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. However, some common warning signs include:

  • Sudden disinterest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Increased symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Social isolation from close friends, family, and peers
  • Repeatedly rescheduling treatment appointments
  • Angry outbursts or unusual irritation
  • Feeling emotionally distant and disconnected from friends and family
  • Ambivalence about sobriety
  • Self-harming thoughts or behaviors
  • Increased symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Suicidal ideations

Now that you know what to look for, you can keep your medical team aware when you start checking off signs on the above list. They’ll help you navigate the complex experiences that come with emotional fatigue.

6 Ways to Combat Emotional Fatigue

Newport Beach Recovery Center collaborates with our clients to tailor treatment plans and incorporate therapies and alternative holistic treatments that support emotional health and wellness. At our facility, we’ll be able to assist you in maintaining your emotional presence in individual and group therapy sessions. Additionally, below are six ways you can help yourself avoid emotional burnout.

#1 Accept Peer Support

In some cases, sober peers and people in your support system may recognize behavior changes caused by emotional fatigue before you notice them. Accepting peer support and listening to their concerns will protect you from using maladaptive behaviors to cope with the side effects of burnout. Do not be afraid to ask your support system for help if you worry about emotional fatigue.

#2 Look After Your Physical Health

Nutritional meals, hydration, quality sleep, and regular exercise play a role in maintaining your mental well-being. Healthier lifestyle choices also enhance the effectiveness of treatment and reduce the risk of relapse. You will have a better outcome if you prioritize your physical and mental health during treatment and aftercare. When you feel better in your day-to-day life, you are less likely to fall back into old patterns.

#3 Practice Daily Self-Care

Many people do not realize the importance of daily self-care during recovery from SUD. You can avoid emotional fatigue by prioritizing your personal health and wellness. Self-care can include doing the following:

  • Spending quiet time alone
  • Doing activities that you enjoy
  • Spending time with friends and loved ones
  • Asking for emotional support
  • Taking a minute when you become overwhelmed

All of these habits benefit your sobriety and stability. They are healthy needs and boundaries that you set with yourself and others to boost your emotional well-being.

#4 Take Breaks From Emotionally Difficult Relationships

During treatment and early recovery, you might need to take frequent breaks from social or personal relationships that leave you feeling drained. According to Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, “[T]o reach or maintain abstinence, it is crucial to maintain positive relationships and to engage self-agency to protect oneself from being influenced by negative relationships.” Over time, you will develop the skills to cope with relationships in a healthier way. However, you may benefit from spending less time interacting with individuals who leave you feeling tired after every interaction.

#5 Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

During ongoing recovery, it is essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Keep your work responsibilities from interfering with your home life by doing the following:

  • Saying “no” to overtime
  • Setting a clear schedule
  • Avoiding work-related things outside scheduled work hours
  • Being clear about your availability

Creating a healthy work-life balance will help you maintain your overall energy levels. You’ll find yourself more capable of emotional presence in your aftercare.

#6 Create Daily Routines

Daily routines keep you focused, motivated, and goal-oriented. According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, “[R]outines take time to establish.” Most people in recovery benefit from establishing healthier routines during the early stages of recovery. Maintaining an evening routine is especially important if you struggle with getting enough sleep each night. Sustainable routines should include achievable goals to keep you moving forward every day.

Emotional fatigue is a common problem during recovery from substance misuse. Treatment and aftercare require a lot of emotional and physical energy, which can feel draining after many weeks or months. Ambivalence and emotional fatigue are common triggers for relapse. Remaining motivated and focused on recovery goals will help you maintain positive changes and avoid relapse. Newport Beach Recovery Center can help you prevent emotional fatigue by providing you with essential coping skills. Alongside traditional therapies, we’ll offer holistic treatments to care for your overall well-being. We can help you stay motivated to achieve and maintain sobriety. To learn more about the programs we offer at our facility, call us today at (888) 850-0363

What Happens During Emotional Relapse?

What Happens During Emotional Relapse?

Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) involves emotional highs and lows that can fluctuate based on many factors. You might experience emotional relapse or other challenges. Treatment programs keep you on track if you encounter emotional setbacks during recovery. We provide clients with all the support they need to ensure their mental, physical, and emotional well-being throughout recovery. You can rely on the care team at Newport Beach Recovery Center to help you remain motivated and move forward. Avoid emotional relapse by attending a program that fits your needs and provides essential coping skills.

What Is Emotional Relapse?

Emotional relapse is a slow process and can start with an increase in negativity or a growing ambivalence toward treatment. A deteriorating emotional state can sometimes make you vulnerable to physical relapse or a return to maladaptive behaviors. The early stages of relapse are easiest to counter using coping skills. Symptoms of emotional relapse feel like post-acute withdrawal and include changes in mood, increased negativity, and feeling unmotivated.

Emotional relapse makes it more difficult to actively participate in recovery by doing the following:

  • Decreasing mental focus and energy
  • Reducing feelings of self-confidence and self-efficacy
  • Making it harder to overcome obstacles

In most cases, emotional relapse happens when an individual does not follow through with using coping tools. The skills you learn during rehabilitation will help you identify and resolve emotional issues. You can easily overcome emotional relapse if you use recovery resources to find healthy ways to cope with negative emotions. However, if you avoid taking action when you notice warning signs of emotional relapse, symptoms of SUD can worsen.

Why Does Your Emotional State Impact Treatment?

Emotions directly affect physical and mental health. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), emotional wellness impacts your ability to cope with stress. In turn, “How you feel can affect your ability to carry out everyday activities, your relationships, and your overall mental health.” In addition, emotions can affect your physical well-being.

Your emotional state will determine the following:

  • How you interact with others
  • Your motivation level
  • How you feel about yourself and your recovery

Treatment focuses on ensuring you have the skills and tools you need to live a healthy and productive life. It can be difficult to concentrate on healing if you feel negative about yourself or your recovery.

Who Is at Risk of Emotional Relapse?

Anyone who lacks a support system or experiences severe withdrawal symptoms has a higher risk of emotional relapse. In addition, if you notice yourself beginning to feel more anxious, depressed, or negative, you should focus on emotional healing. The following factors increase the risk of emotional relapse:

  • Lack of coping skills
  • Not actively participating in recovery treatment
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders

What Are the Signs of Emotional Relapse?

Learning to recognize the signs of emotional relapse will help you avoid physical relapse or other recovery complications. Some of the most common signs of emotional relapse include:

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Decreased motivation
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Unusual mood swings
  • Anger issues or unusual irritation
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Behavioral changes
  • Feeling isolated or lonely
  • Increased negativity

Once you know what to look for, you can monitor your emotional health for indications of returning maladaptive behaviors. According to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, “denial is a big part of emotional relapse.” By monitoring your emotions and taking steps to remain positive, you can avoid falling into the trap of denial about any potential warning signs.

3 Ways to Avoid Emotional Relapse During Recovery

Finding coping methods that work for you and your lifestyle is part of the recovery process. Below are a few ways to use the tools you learn during rehabilitation to avoid emotional relapse.

#1 Monitor Your Emotional Responses

At Newport Beach Recovery Center, we help clients improve emotion regulation and processing to decrease ambivalence or negativity. Monitoring your emotional state is an essential part of avoiding emotional relapse. If your thoughts turn pessimistic or disinterested in recovery, you can apply the coping techniques you learned in therapy.

#2 Maintain Your Treatment and Recovery Schedule

You may find it challenging to maintain your treatment and recovery schedule after completing rehabilitation. Transitioning to aftercare or returning home after residential treatment can feel destabilizing for some people. Avoid emotional relapse by regularly attending therapy, support group meetings, and other forms of treatment. Follow through with your aftercare plan to limit the emotional distress caused by the transition out of structured treatment.

#3 Rely on Your Support System

Your support system keeps you motivated and moving forward during challenging moments in recovery. If you feel anxious, depressed, or uncertain, reach out to them. Relying on your support system is an essential part of successful long-term sobriety. You should feel comfortable contacting the following people if you feel emotional distress:

  • Therapist
  • Case manager
  • Mentor or sponsor
  • Close family and friends

Recovery from substance misuse involves good and bad days. If you find yourself feeling depressed, anxious, or ambivalent about your recovery, then you may have a higher risk of relapse. The process is often gradual, and most people do not realize the dangers of emotional relapse. Reach out to someone in your support system if you feel uncertain about treatment and recovery or your ability to cope. You can easily overcome emotional relapse if you take action as soon as you notice the signs. Treating the symptoms of emotional relapse will protect you from physical relapse. To learn more about how we can help, call Newport Beach Recovery Center today at (888) 850-0363.