Add These 5 Mental Health Coping Skills to Your Toolbox
Every person has their struggles. Every person falls on hard times, and everyone needs tools to deal with the obstacles life throws their way.
This is especially true for people with mental illness. Whether it is depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or another psychological condition, each day is a challenge.
The first coping skill is one that you may not have heard of before. Self-monitoring is the ability to pay attention to yourself including what you are thinking, feeling, and doing.
Self-monitoring allows you to gather valuable information about yourself and your symptoms. You can use these data later to come up with a game plan about what other coping skills you will employ to help your condition.
You might think paying attention to yourself is a natural thing everyone already does, but you would be surprised by how many people actively or accidentally block their thoughts and feelings through distractions and avoidance. To know where you are going, you have to know where you are starting.
After self-monitoring comes self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is the process of sharing information about yourself, your past, and your goals for the future.
Some people choose to self-disclose through writing about their experiences in a journal. This therapeutic act releases pent-up thoughts and feeling in black-and-white, which makes problems seem more manageable.
Others complete their self-disclosure through open discussions with trusted friends or family members. Then, there are those who find great benefit from talking about their situations with trained mental health specialists like therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
Whatever style you choose, you will likely find talking about and writing about your life allows you to uncover new ideas and suggestions to make your situation better.
How’s your self-esteem? Many people with mental health problems deal with low self-esteem on a daily basis. This lack of confidence stands in the way of you feeling better and leading the life you deserve.
Improve your self-belief by taking an accurate inventory of your strengths. What are you good at? What do you like about yourself? By asking and answering these questions, you shift your focus from the bad to the good.
The more you recognize the positive aspects of your life, the better you’ll feel.
Self-care is the practice of tending to your most basic needs and wants. Without appropriate levels of self-care, it will be nearly impossible to accomplish anything, including coping with mental illness.
Whether you are looking to eat more plant-based foods or need to give up dairy for health reasons, here's a list of dairy alternatives to add to your diet.
The best self-care includes:
The food you eat actively fuels every endeavor you set out complete. Eating high-quality foods results in higher energy and motivation. Poor-quality food results in blood sugar spikes and valleys that leave you feeling sluggish.
Do you want to cope with mental illness? Eat well.
Good Physical Activity
Now that you have higher energy levels, you can put it to good use with some exercise. Physical activity releases several helpful chemicals into your brain that improve mood and lower anxiety.
Do you worry exercise is impossible due to some physical ailments? Don’t! Even short walks can help as a major coping skill, so lace up the sneakers and head out the door.
Rest is the third part of the self-care trifecta. By getting good sleep each night, your brain and your body rejuvenate and reenergize for the coming day.
If you find yourself sleeping too much or too little, consider revamping your nighttime routine. Start by cutting off exposure to social media and electronics for a few hours before your planned bedtime. Then, make your room dark, cool, and comfortable to promote great rest.
Shifting your routines might take some time but continue to experiment. The worst coping skill is not making adjustments when you see a problem.
Avoid the Negatives
Speaking of bad coping skills, it is necessary to mention that not all coping skills are good coping skills. In fact, there are more negative coping skills than positive ones, but knowing the difference is complex.
A simple way to judge the quality of your coping skill is to ask the question – Is this easy or is this best?
Many people choose an action or response to resolve the issue as quickly and easily as possible, but this can be a dangerous practice. Doing what’s easy often leads to short-term benefit and long-term risks.
Take alcohol and other drugs as an example. People who want to feel better may use drugs to alter their mood. This self-medication might make a significant impact immediately, but what happens with time?
Over the long-term, drug abuse blocks out your positive coping skills and leads to addiction. Shortcuts are always tempting, but doing things the right way will lead to happiness in the future.
Other examples of negative coping skills include:
- Quitting activities like work or school just because they are challenging
- Staying in a bad relationship
- Engaging in many unhealthy sexual relationships
- Avoiding your friends and family
- Overspending money
If you can work on yourself while avoiding the negatives, you can cope with almost everything. Mental illness won’t stand a chance.