6 Tips to Cope with Maladaptive Behavior

People with trauma often experience adverse effects. These behaviors are called “maladaptive” as they lead to a decrease in happiness and well-being. Maladaptive behavior can also be called “self-destructive” or “antisocial” behavior. These behaviors may include self-harm, substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, aggression, or isolation. Here are some ways you can cope with maladaptive behavior when it arises:

Talk to Someone

Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional. Journaling can be a great way of processing your thoughts and feelings, too. Having a conversation with someone can help you process your experiences and emotions.


Exercise can be a great way of releasing stress and “letting go” of your thoughts. 

  • It can also help improve your mood and self-esteem, as well as help you sleep better.
  • Exercise can be helpful for both physical and mental health. 
  • Exercising can help you regulate your emotions and release pent-up energy or frustration. 
  • It can also help you improve your sense of self-worth by reminding you that you are strong and healthy. 

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is a part of looking after yourself. Just as sunscreen protects your skin from the sun, self-care protects your mental health and well-being. Some ideas for self-care include:

  • Schedule time for yourself 
  • Take some time out of your busy day to do something you enjoy. 
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a balanced diet 
  • Get in Touch with Your Feelings
  • Try mindfulness. This is a form of meditation that involves focusing on the present moment.

Help Others Who’ve Been Through Trauma

Helping others who’ve experienced trauma can help you understand and process your own experiences. Even if you have not experienced trauma, you can still work with people who have. You can volunteer at a crisis center, be a hotline operator, or even become a certified trauma therapist. Working with people who have experienced trauma is a rewarding way to learn more about your own experiences.

Find Meaning in the Struggle

Sometimes, life feels like a struggle. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why is this happening to me?” you may want to find meaning in your work. Finding meaning in your efforts can help you see that your experiences are connected to something more significant. Even when things are hard, you can find comfort in knowing that it’s all a part of a bigger story. When you find meaning in your struggle, you can see your experiences as part of a larger story. By connecting your experiences to other events in your life, you can find more meaning in your struggles.

Find Inspiration to Move Forward

Sometimes, it can feel like you’re struggling and hitting a wall. You might not know where to go next or what to do next. You might have so many ideas and plans but have no idea where to begin. Finding inspiration to move forward can help you stay focused and motivated. 

  • You can find inspiration in other people’s stories and experiences. 
  • You can find inspiration in nature, poetry, music, or art. 
  • You can find inspiration in quotes and sayings.


Maladaptive behavior is typical among people who’ve experienced trauma. Now that you know more about it, you can better understand why it happens and how to cope. With the proper support, you can move towards a life where you feel empowered and have more control over your emotions and reactions. 

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