We all experience challenging times when we feel overwhelmed, anxious, or alone. In these moments, it’s often hard to think of things that may help you feel a bit better. Take some time to think about your coping skills, and the tools you have to help you in difficult times. You can even write a list of things that can help. Next time you’re having a challenging day, you can just look at your list and reach for a tool that can help. Here are a few more ideas you can try.
Moving your body is a great tool to help you in stressful moments. It gives you a natural mood boost, relieves stress, and releases some of that pent-up energy. Some people also say that when they get active, they feel more alert and can concentrate on the challenge they’re facing. Physical activity looks different for everyone. Some people enjoy working out, while others may go for a run or a walk. You can also try yoga, cycling, swimming, dancing, or anything else that gets you moving.
Use Your Hobbies
Your hobbies can also be great coping skills! This is another way to take your mind off the problem and get some distance from the situation. You’ll come back with fresh eyes when you’re ready. Books, puzzles, baking, crafts, and games can all help you in times of stress. Jot down some of your go-to hobbies so you don’t forget your options when you’re in the middle of a difficult day.
Do you have creative projects you love, like journaling, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, or taking pictures? Doing something creative can help you cope with a stressful situation. Getting lost in a creative activity helps you come back to yourself and just enjoy being you. It’s also a great way to build your creative problem-solving and manage stressors more easily.
Meditation is something you can do anywhere, any time. Some people prefer to meditate in silence, while others like to listen to a relaxing playlist or a guided meditation. When you meditate, let thoughts come and go without trying to control them. Our minds don’t ever stop, and that’s ok. Just let thoughts pass by and focus on the guided meditation or on your breath. This is a tool you might want to use regularly. Spending 5 minutes meditating before bed can help you build up this skill, so you’ll be ready to use it during a difficult time.
Look Back at Favorite Memories
Sometimes looking at favorite memories can help remind you of things that are important to you. You can collect objects that have strong memories, gather a few photos, or create an online album of all your best pictures. Looking at these favorite memories can help you tap into all the things that make life so meaningful. For example, you can include pictures of friends and family, a place you enjoy, or something that makes you smile.
Recognizing When You Need Help
We all face difficult times in our lives that can change our headspace and affect our mental health. You’re bound to have a bad day every now and then, but how do you know when you need help? Think about your physical health. You’ve had days when you felt tired or had an upset stomach. That’s your body’s way of telling you to rest and take care of yourself. You might not go to the doctor for a headache, but if you break a bone or can’t breathe, you know you need help.
You can think about your mental health in the same way. Feeling low for a day or two is a sign to rest and use your coping tools. But when things that used to be easy feel very difficult, you may need some help. This is a sign to look closely at your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to find out what’s wrong. When you don’t feel like yourself, you can reach out for support. Contact your doctor, call your local crisis center, or start a chat with a virtual helpline. You don’t have to go it alone.