Life isn’t easy. And, it’s not supposed to be. Challenge is what strengthens us. It helps us to expand and grow. Truth is, even positive life events can bring psychological stress. Key to handling life’s obstacles, both good and bad, is equipping yourself with strategies to cope in a healthy manner.
Coping is understood as how one manages external or internal stress, adapts to it, and acts upon it. Everyone engages in their own, personal coping strategies.
Yet, there exists key strategies that can be used to proactively manage emotions, thoughts, and behavior in hard times. These strategies can help us to cope in more productive, healthy ways.
Dr. Wellman shares insights and strategies for healthy coping
Talk about it. Believe it or not, talking out your pain is a lot easier than you think. Most people assume that keeping emotions bottled up is the best way to deal with an issue, but it is actually one of the worst things that you can do.
Coping turned inward can lead to external pain, internal disease, and misplaced anger. If seeing a counselor is what you feel you need, see one; if crying on your best friend’s shoulder helps you relieve your pain, cry away; if journaling is how you speak, then start writing. Do whatever you need to do to get that energy out of your system. The key is, you must let it out of your system…
Get active. Studies show that exercise not only helps get your body in shape, but also your mind.
If you’re facing a challenge, it may be time for a new hobby. Try kickboxing, cycling classes, yoga…anything that requires a large amount of physical energy can relieve negative feelings like anger, frustration, confusion, and pain. Plus, you’re doing something that allows you to positively vent your feelings- a double win.
Stop with the ‘stinkin thinkin'. Psychologist, Albert Ellis, coined the phrase ‘stinkin thinkin’ to capture how people tend to think negatively about their situation, which can spiral into negative feelings and action. Ellis believed that ‘you are what you feel’ so in times of obstacle, you must engage in positive thinking to spur positive action.
To stop ‘stinkin thinkin’ you may need to switch up your routine. Meet a friend for coffee or see a funny movie. It may help to put a positive screen saver on your phone or computer to remind you to think positively when you get off track. Simple things that can quickly alter your thoughts may help in turning your ‘thinkin’ positive.
Lean on somebody. In hard times, friendship is the best cure. Humans thrive off connection with others, so seeking support in hard times is key in physical and mental recovery. Whether it is a family member, friend, or co-worker, don’t wait to open up and get support.
Additionally, you may want to seek out a support group. Support groups are created for the sole purpose of helping individuals cope with shared difficulties, together.
Effective coping strategies, if practiced over time, can become positive coping behavior. Coping in healthy ways can improve mental and emotional wellbeing. In the face of turmoil, you will be equipped with the skills to push past negative emotion and thoughts. It is important to be proactive in practicing these coping skills to strengthen your ability to cope healthily in the face of life’s inevitable challenge.
- Reflect on your current coping behaviors. Are your methods healthy? How can they be improved?
- Practice one of these coping strategies the next time you face an obstacle at work or home.
- Offer 'a shoulder to lean on' to a friend needing support. Encourage them to ask for help…