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Ten Great Coping Strategies

Hispanic Female With Bright Smile Dining Outdoors with Woman who Copes wellToday I’d like to talk about the range of things that people do to cope with stress, and specifically those tough realities that just aren’t going to go away no matter how hard we try. Let’s look at the many ways people seek “the serenity to accept what they cannot change,” and maybe you’ll get some ideas that might work for you. The next time forces in your life swirl out of control and make you anxious, sad, or angry, you may want to consider one of these ten strategies.

Take a Time Out: Excuse yourself from whoever or whatever is upsetting you and take some time to catch your breath, identify your feelings, change your focus, regroup and take care of yourself.

Relax: Take a few deep breaths, or learn a specific relaxation technique like diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.  Maybe schedule a massage. (See apps like Calm or Headspace for more on meditation.)

Get Physical: Go for a walk, or exercise! Stress can cause tension in our minds and muscles. So put it to good use. Blow off some steam and build up some endorphins and know that you’re making your body healthier and stronger.

Call a Friend: Or text, skype, or even meet face to face. Having friends to share life’s up and downs with can help you feel understood and secure. Pain shared is pain halved.

Connect with Family: Remind yourself that you are not in this alone, that there is a loyal safety net of people who love you and support you.

Baby Yourself: We are not so different than the babies we once were. If you feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, then HALT. And make sure to hydrate and nourish yourself, get enough sleep, and get the affection you need to function at your best.

Tend to a Child or Pet: Playing with a child or pet can feel tremendously diverting, while protecting your child or pet in a time of stress can be enormously fulfilling.

Entertain Yourself: Find a book, TV show, movie, or video game that will get you out of your head and into a new mood.

Find a Hobby: Get active with cooking, writing, hiking, gardening, or playing the guitar. Express yourself and get into a flow state.

Get Spiritual: Pray, if so inclined, and take comfort in the fact that God (as you experience him or her) is watching over you and that there is a divine purpose to the challenges that you face.

–Dr. Adam