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What's In Your Coping Toolbox?

Life consistently presents us with challenges and changes and at times this can lead to us feeling stressed. Planning how to manage and cope in various life situations, and finding out which coping skills work best for you, is the key to succeeding with stress rather than experiencing distress. This article contains ideas for coping with stress and also acute emotional crises. Here are some ideas for coping with stress:


1. Understand more about stress – this involves recognising your sources of stress and how stress affects you personally. Plan for stressful periods.


2. Problem-solve: What is the problem? Be specific and break it down into realistic and achievable components. Then set goals on how to deal with each problem. Make sure you include how to begin your plan of action.


3. Develop new behaviours: If you take on too much or have difficulty saying no, learn how to be assertive. There are plenty of online courses or counsellors that can help you with this. Learn how to manage your time more effectively and delegate wherever possible! Avoid procrastination; whilst you are not doing it, you’ll only be spending energy worrying about it.


4. Make sure you develop a support network: Take the time to develop good supportive relationships. Ask for help when needed and accept it when offered. You must also be prepared to do the same for others.


5. Make time to relax and enjoy yourself: How many of us know we should do more of this but don’t make the time? Set aside time each day to relax and build this into your routine. Develop hobbies and leisure activities that help you to switch off.


Ideas For Coping with Acute Emotional Distress


1. Use of distraction: The aim of this is to limit the time you spend in contact with the stressful emotional stimuli, the things that are causing you to feel emotional. The stimuli could be anything from another person to the thoughts that you are having. Distraction involves doing something else to absorb your attention.


2. Imagery: Think of safe and soothing images. This involves imagining images that make you feel good, it may be a favourite place, person, pet or scenes from nature.


3. Relaxation: Learn a simple technique like using peripheral vision to induce relaxation. Peripheral vision is effective at switching on the parasympathetic part of our nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system responsible for making us feel calm. It’s not possible to feel anxious or distressed whilst fully relaxed in peripheral vision.


4. One thing in the moment: Often as adults we tend to spend much of our time stuck in contemplation about what went wrong in the past or what may go wrong in the future. Try and just focus on the ‘moment’. Perhaps this may involve thinking something like ‘I’m in my house in my favourite chair, I’m warm and comfortable and I have a good book to read’.


5. Exercise: Physical activity can help to disperse the chemicals released in your body by the stress response. It also releases feel good chemicals known as endorphins.


6. Soothe yourself: Do something to nurture your five senses. 


Remember to be kind and gentle to yourself.

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"To heal your heart, first heal your thoughts"


~Alexandra Vasiliu ~