Life can knock you around a bit from time to time. Most weeks pass by, and nothing happens, and then some weeks can change everything, forever. What’s more, these changes can be disturbing and affect the rest of your life in negative ways. Often the worst part is how you feel. Traumatic memories can come back to haunt you without warning.
Coping strategies, however, may be able to help. There’s ample evidence that when you have the right approach, you can take the edge off your negative experiences and remain functional and in control. The problem is that not all coping strategies are created equal. Some are much, much better than others.
The Two Types Of Coping Strategies That People Use
In general, there are two types of coping strategies that people use. The first is often dubbed “problem-focused” coping. Here the idea is that you think of a practical solution to the problem you’re facing and take steps to sort it out.
For instance, you’re finding it difficult to cope because you think that your manager has got the wrong idea about something you did at work. You fear that they have an incorrect impression of your motivations or actions. A problem-focused coping strategy would be to march into your boss’s office and offer them an explanation, plus evidence that your intentions were sincere.
The other type of coping strategy is called “emotional-based” coping. The idea here is to find ways to soothe yourself and calm yourself down to distract yourself from whatever is going on in your life. While emotional coping might seem like a form of avoidance, you often have no choice. An extreme example of this might be if you have been involved in a car accident. Once the accident takes place, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. The only way of coping is reaching into yourself and finding a mental strategy that works.
Problem-focused and emotional-focused coping both have their place.
Here are some healthy emotion-focused coping strategies that you might want to try if you sometimes find aspects of life overwhelming.
When you’re stuck in an emotional rut, exercise is one of the most beneficial things that you can do. Physical activity can help in resetting the brain.
Changes in chemical composition in the brain often accompany high levels of emotional distress. Just sitting around and not moving allows this imbalance to continue, making you feel worse than you might. Exercise, as many of you will know, floods the brain with pain-killing chemicals, helping to give you a new, better perspective on whatever problem you might face.
Taking A Bath
Often taking a bath can alter the way that you feel. The sensation of physical comfort can work wonders for making you feel better if you’re going through a challenging experience. You can also try incorporating aromatherapy into your bathing sessions for an added sense of wellbeing.
Drink Green Tea
Some foods, like green tea, contain influential anti-inflammatory factors that get into your brain and help you feel better. People who eat diets high in anti-inflammatory foods tend to have better mental health than those who don’t.
Visit A Counselor
Using a counselor is one of the healthiest ways to cope with stressful situations in your life. If you have been through a negative experience that has affected the way you think profoundly, then an inpatient trauma and PTSD rehab center can work wonders. Many people find that they can get the support that they need while, at the same time, avoiding problematic, unhealthy coping strategies that might harm them in the long-term.
Picture A Happy Place
Most people have a “happy place.” It’s somewhere that they can go in their mind that is peaceful and serene, and a million miles from the difficulty of everyday life.
A happy place, for instance, could be a place that you used to go to when you were a child. It could also be somewhere peaceful that you went on holiday. You can even make up an ideal location if you want. There are no rules here. Some people find that when they picture a particular place, it calms them down and gives them a sense of perspective.
Nothing is more annoying than somebody telling you that you need to smile when you feel overwhelmed. But there might actually be some truth in what they say. Researchers have discovered that smiling leads to feelings of happiness and not the other way around, which is not what our intuition tells us. Merely activating the smile muscles around the face can put you in a better mood and help you look on the bright side if you’re struggling.
Many of the world’s most relaxed and enlightened people use yoga as a form of meditation. Yoga helps to put you in a new frame of mind, focusing on the sensations running through your body instead of negative thoughts.
Play With Your Pet
Animals make excellent therapeutic companions. The great thing about pets is that nothing seems to phase them. They’re always on your side, no matter how bad your day has been.
If you’re struggling to cope, then playing with your pet can help enormously. A pet can be a lifeline that enables you to get out of a rut on focus on your connection. Even stroking the animal’s fur (if you have a dog or a cat) can provide soothing tactile sensations that help you to feel better immediately. It can be surprising just how fast animals can change the way that you think.
Focus On Music
Music has a way of bypassing many of the filters in our brains and speaking to us directly. Some people find that when they listen to music, they’re able to escape the problems of the day and find an island of peace in their minds.
The type of music you listen to can change the way you feel. If you’re finding it difficult to cope, try picking sounds that make you feel relaxed and calm instead of revved up.
Coping Strategies That You’ll Want To Avoid
Not all coping strategies are healthy, of course. Here is a smattering that you’ll want to avoid.
Don’t spend all day in bed. Some people try to avoid the responsibilities of life by spending as much time as possible in bed. While this might help soothe a person, it’s only a temporary escape from life’s problems and could prevent them from achieving what they want in life.
Overspending. Retail therapy is where you go out shopping and buy things when you feel bad. The problem with it is that you can become dependent on it, continually purchase new things that don’t improve your life, sending you into debt.
Don’t rage at others. Most people find that when they talk to others about how they feel, it can help in significant ways. Continually venting at others, however, can mean that some people remain stuck in their place of pain and can’t move on.
Don’t drink too much. While substance abuse temporarily numbs the pain, it’s not a viable long-term strategy. Drugs, like alcohol, are dangerous. Worse still, people can quickly find themselves developing dependencies if they don’t nip their habits in the bud early on.
Coping is difficult to achieve all of the time, but there are many positive things that you can do. The best approach is to find a strategy that works for you and stick with it.