Life is tricky and, at times, can get very overwhelming. During bouts of anxiety and stress, you are going to cope… one way or another. Everyone is unique; their background, personality, chemical make-up, and a flurry of other factors affect the way we handle stressors. This means, a coping strategy that works great for one individual, may not work at all for another. Therefore, it is important to find healthy coping strategies (rather than unhealthy) that work for you.
Below are examples of coping strategies to try. Exploring different methods of managing anxiety and stress will afford you the opportunity to have numerous strategies in your back pocket, ready for you when you need them.
1. Distract yourself: Listen to music, read, watch TV, learn something new, clean, organize, cook/bake, make a list, play video games, connect with a safe friend or family member, listen to a podcast/audio book, sing a song, take a walk, or rearrange/redecorate something.
2. Grounding: Use your 5 senses to notice what is around you. Practice mindfulness, smell fragrances (candles, lotions, perfumes), slowly taste foods, exercise, walk on grass barefoot, touch something soft or smooth, squeeze a stress ball, do yoga.
3. Emotional Release: Journal, cry, watch a funny movie/video and laugh, crank up the music and dance, or talk about your emotions with someone you trust.
4. Self-Love: Eat healthy foods, take a hot bath, get a manicure/pedicure, take a long shower, buy yourself a small treat, get dressed up, spend time with friends or family, organize something, buy/pick fresh flowers, deep breathing exercises, or rest and relaxation.
5. Thought Challenge: Write out negative thoughts and then challenge each one. Is there significant evidence for this thought? Can you think about your situation in a different way? Is this thought helping you? Attempt to look at the bigger picture. Will this matter a year from now?
6. Access Your Higher Self: Help someone else, smile at a stranger, pray, practice gratitude, volunteer, do random acts of kindness, appreciate nature.
Make a list of coping strategies that you would like to try. If something does not help, mark it off. If that particular strategy works well, use it again. Remember to think outside of the box. You are the one that gets to decide what works for you. Your list of coping strategies is unique to you and only you.
Using healthy coping gives you the ability to manage uncomfortable emotions and deal with stress in a different, more positive way. The intentional use of healthy coping instead of unhealthy coping increases resiliency and the capacity to face challenges that come your way.
There are numerous benefits to using healthy coping strategies. Get started today!