Tools to Help Through Difficult Times: Part 1


Over the last two years, we’ve lived through a global pandemic that’s touched everyone. Many of us have felt the weight of loneliness, isolation, or stress. When times are difficult, mental health often slips to the bottom of the to-do list. Everyone goes through these challenging periods, and it’s important to have the tools you need to help you through difficult times. Here are some tips for developing the tools and coping skills that can help.

Finding the Right Tools

Not every coping skill or tool is going to work for everyone. What works for your friend might not work for you. That’s why it’s important to find the right tools! This could be anything – going for a walk, snuggling your cat, or even taking a deep breath. For some, making a list of tools can help a lot. When you have a bad day or start to feel your mental health slipping, you can pull out your list and remember
all your tools.

Breathing Exercises

Learning a few breathing exercises can help you calm your body and mind. Breathing deeply can slow down your heart rate and help you let go of intense emotions. Try a few different breathing exercises to discover which ones will work for you. Some people find that during moments of heightened stress or anxiety, using a breathing exercise for one or two minutes can make a huge difference. Practicing for a few minutes every day to keep this tool sharp and ready to go.
Here are some breathing exercises to get you started

  • Take a slow breath in to fill your diaphragm and lungs. Take a slow breath out, emptying your lungs and diaphragm. Keep breathing long and slow for a few minutes.
  • Breathe in over 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, then breathe out over 4 counts. Repeat this pattern for a couple of minutes until you feel calm.
  • Lay down on your back with one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Notice how your hands rise and fall as you breathe deeply. Focus on your hands and keep breathing long and slow.
  • You can also use a word or phrase as part of your breathing exercise. For example, when you breathe in you can say in your mind “breathing in calm,” and when you breathe out you can say “breathing out tension and stress.”

Watch A Movie

People often say that taking their mind off the problem for a few minutes can help a lot. Using distractions can break the cycle of negative thoughts and help you get some headspace back. Then once you’re feeling calmer you can figure out what to do next. Watching a favorite movie can be a great way to get lost in something you love. Did you start your coping skills list yet? Add some of your favorite movies or shows so that you don’t have to decide what to watch in that stressful moment.

Call A Friend

We all have times when we feel alone. When you’re having a hard day, hearing a familiar voice can remind you that you have people around you who really care. It can be challenging to pick up the phone and take a step toward a friend, but it can help you feel connected to others. If you’re making a list of tools to help you through difficult times, jot down the names of several people you can call. Next time you’re struggling, you can look at your list of tools, and remember the friends you can turn to for
support.

Contact Crisis Support

Do you know where you can turn when you need help? Crisis support lines connect you with volunteers who are ready to chat with you about anything that’s going on. Whether you find a local crisis center, a virtual helpline, or chat support, know that you’re not alone. We can help you get through this.

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