Destructive Responses

25 February 2021

Some coping strategies used in response to challenges can be harmful. Harmful coping strategies include drinking more alcohol, getting angry with others and doing reckless activities. These might feel like a good idea at the time but can actually have a negative impact on our mental health. 

How can I reduce my destructive challenge responses? 

If we take a moment to think about when things didn’t go so well in the past, we might have drunk more alcohol, smoked more, eaten more ‘junk’ food (or similar), gotten angry with others or done something reckless. These are all examples of destructive responses. Being aware of potentially harmful coping strategies is really important. 

We would aim to move away from these harmful responses to more healthy and positive ones. 

Top tips for Success

  • Identify your ‘triggers’ – what causes you to use a harmful response. 
  • Try to avoid this potentially dangerous action 
  • Find a more positive response 


  • Having a long and tiring week at work makes us feel more irritable and likely to resort to harmful behaviours 
  • Acknowledging that we want to go to the pub and drink alcohol, potentially a dangerous amount. 
  • Taking a different route home from work to avoid the pub
  • Going for a walk with friends and talking to them to replace the action of going to the pub and drinking more alcohol than we should. 

External resources for more information 

Challenge negative thoughts: 


Challenging unhelpful thoughts: