Stress Coping Mechanisms
The stress of the holiday season is long behind us, yet the stressors of life seem more prominent than ever. A lot of us went back to school or work, or even just regular family life, and the magic of twinkling lights and wrapped presents disappeared. It’s quickly become mundane again, even tedious. Sometimes this time of year can be even more depressing than the holidays because we no longer have parties to attend, shopping to do, or family to see. We end up mired in the day-to-day pressures, not to mention the curve balls that get thrown to us. How we handle those pressures can determine if we are setting ourselves up for a healthy year, or a year filled with strife.
Coping skills are important to learn at a young age and adjust as we get older. A young child, for example, might curl up in its mother’s lap when worried or scared while an older child may want to talk to their father. By the time you are an adult, you should have a list of healthy go-to ways to cope with whatever life throws at you. There will be times when one thing on the list works better than the others, or even when you need to try a different coping mechanism because the first one didn’t quite relieve enough of the tension.
Here is a handy list of excellent — and healthy! — coping strategies.
- Exercise. It’s been shown to increase endorphins and reduce stress.
- Get outside. Sit in the sun or go for a walk. Even better, exercise outside.
- Watch a favorite television show or movie.
- Find someone to laugh with or go to a comedy show. Laughter is the best medicine, you know!
- Work. Sometimes the best way to take your conscious mind of things and allow your unconscious mind to work on the problem is to focus on your job.
- Take a hot bath or shower.
- See your friends.
- Write or journal.
- Take a nap.
- Listen to music. Have a playlist ready of upbeat songs that make you feel good.
- Play games. The best kinds are board or card games played with family or friends. Or find something active like laser tag.
- Get creative.
- Garden or do yard work.
- Meditate or just learn calming breathing practices.
- Pet your pet. Our furry friends can have a calming effect on us.
- Use aromatherapy. Smells can affect our moods.
- Get a healthy snack.
- Chocolate. While not necessarily “healthy,” chocolate can increase our serotonin levels just enough to get us through the immediate crisis. Try not to use food as a crutch, though.
- Clean. A clean house feels good, and cleaning the physical things around us can make it easier to see past the emotional or mental hardship in front of us.
- Get a massage.
Whatever you do, have someone you can call. There will be times that things feel so dark and hopeless, that having a different perspective of a loved one will make all the difference in the world. If you don’t have someone, save a helpline in your contact list. Never be afraid to reach out for help.
“woman-reading summer” by Spirit-Fire is licensed under CC BY 2.0 CC BY 2.0