Being that May 22nd through May 26th is Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought I’d write this to help those who are suffering with mental illnesses learn to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm and whatever else they are dealing with.
There is a misconception fed by the mainstream media’s mockery of self-help and therapeutic strategies that ‘coping’ is only necessary in the wake of significant trauma or tragedy. Furthermore, we as a culture have grown to believe that coping only looks one certain way -- talking out our feelings reclined on a big, brown leather couch. And that is oh-so far from the truth. Healthy coping skills are any actions you individually take to lower your stress level in a healthy, nondestructive manner in any situation. That situation can be something life-altering, like the loss of a friend or family member, or it can be something as small as stressing over a test. Coping can look completely different for every person depending on their anxiety level in the situation and their personality. It’s time to remove the stigma from coping skills. We all use them more often than we may know. Coping is really just doing something for yourself to help curb stress and to help distract yourself from negative thoughts and urges. You are worth it, so allow yourself to explore what works for you. Some people hate shopping. Do what you love for your own mental health. The stress can wait. Here is a list of 50 healthy and positive coping skills:
- Go shopping! Retail therapy is the best therapy!
- Clean or organize your area
- Exercise! Go for a run or even a walk. Physical activity is important when dealing with mental health.
- Make a gratitude journal. There is always something to be thankful for!
- Scream into your pillow. Sometimes all you need is a good scream to help you feel better!
- Call a friend. A best friend is basically like a therapist, but for free :)
- Eat healthy foods
- Get enough sleep
- Get involved in a worthy cause
- Enjoy nature
- Write a list of strengths
- Journal. I always feel better after I write!
- Take a hot and relaxing bath
- Go for a Starbucks run. A venti mango black tea or strawberry acaí refresher can always make me feel better!
- Watch a movie or your favorite show on Netflix. I’m currently watching Scandal and I highly recommend it!
- Spend time with friends or family
- Listen to music
- Give yourself a mani-pedi and makeover
- Draw, paint, or color
- Sing, dance, or act
- Write poetry or songs
- Make your bed
- Sit in the sun
- Squeeze an ice cube
- Chew gum
- Suck on a peppermint
- Drink tea
- Rearrange your bedroom
- Make friendship bracelets
- Find a quiet and safe place
- Wash and style your hair
- Watch the clouds float by
- Contact a hotline or therapist
- Take deep breaths
- Accept and become aware of what you cannot control in a situation, and focus on what you can control
- Create a schedule for your day
- Go for a drive
- Make realistic goals
- Stop dwelling on the past
- Think positively
There are plenty more positive coping skills, but these are the ones I have found most helpful when dealing with hard times.
If you or anyone you know is struggling, please take advantage of the following:
Mental Illness Hotline: 800-950-NAMI
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Eating Disorder Association Hotline: 800-931-2237
National Mental Health Association Hotline: 800-273-8255