Life can get stressful, anxiety can consume, and depression can overwhelm. Worries and stress can take over no matter if you’re at home, work, or even spending time with love ones and family. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some coping skills you can pull out of your toolbox no matter wherever you are? I’m going to share with you five coping skills that I have found to be very effective for my clients and myself.
One tool you can pull out of your box is “Mantra”. This is a very simple skill that I use time too time when I’m feeling very overwhelmed. Mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat in your head that will help you feel better/calmer. For example, “Peace” or “Relax”. I personally like to say “Bailey” who is my year and half old beagle. When I say her name over in my head it always puts a smile on my face no matter where I am or how I am feeling.
Another coping skill that is great for someone on the go is “Positive Self-Talk”. Now, I know that sometimes this can be easier said than done, but it is a fantastic skill to practice and learn. It’s as simple as giving yourself a pep talk. It can be as simple as asking yourself, “What would you say to your best friend in the same situation?” Then you say it to yourself. Such as if you’re out on a date and it is going horribly, you tell yourself, “I’m ok and I will get through this. I only have a couple hours more and I’ll be home.” This is a skill that is good for coping, while also building self-confidence.
One of my favorite coping skills is “Visualization”. This is where you think of a calm, relaxing place. Then you tell yourself a story about it. Just make sure that you use all of your senses. Think about what you hear, see, smell, taste and touch. I love to think of the beach. I can see the waves roaring in from a distance. I feel the warm and soft sand beneath my feet. I can taste the cool strawberry daiquiri as it hits my lips. This is just one of the scenarios you can visualize in a stressful situation.
The fourth tool in my box is “Color Breathing.” This is where you breathe in slowly and rhythmically in through your nose and out through your mouth. You must make sure that you are using your diaphragm while breathing in. Fill your lungs from bottom to top. While you’re breathing in through your nose imagine a calming color entering your body and soothing all your tension. Then slowly breathe out a color representing all of your stress, anxiety, anger and tension leaving your body through your mouth. I would breath in the color blue because I think of the ocean. I would breathe out brown because to me it represents dirt and what I would like too get rid of. This exercise utilizes deep breathing and also visualization, which you can use anywhere out and about.
Lastly sometimes when the anxiety is at its peak it’s healthy to ground yourself with your surroundings. This coping skill is called “Grounding.” In order to practice grounding you must be comfortably seated. Now using one or more of your senses describe what you see, hear, smell, taste or feel. Focusing on your surroundings can help you feel calmer and more present. This is a great tool in highly intense situations and work or with family when you are feeling overwhelmed and your anger is heightened.
Please don’t be discouraged if any of these skills don’t work the way you want them to the first time. Like most things it takes practice to perfect. I hope these tools can help you on the go and enjoy every experience to the fullest.
For more information about Jeff Lewis, LCPC, click here.
Originally published July 1, 2019