Fort Wellness Counseling

10 Helpful Coping Skills for Dealing with Difficult Times

a girl relaxing on a swing.

Attending individual counseling sessions with a therapist can help you learn more helpful coping skills and coping mechanisms to get through difficult times.  The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted people’s mental health in substantial ways. Recent research shows that 4 out of 10 adults in the United States reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. That’s nearly 4 times the amount prior to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, I suspect the ripple effects from the pandemic will be seen for years to come.  In this article, I will provide you some helpful strategies and coping skills for getting through tough times.  Below, I’ve got 10 helpful coping skills that you can use to deal with difficult times. 

10 Helpful Strategies Discussed in Therapy

1) Stay connected

Social connection and social support are foundations to our emotional well-being.  It is very important to connect with others.  Here are some ways you can connect with others: phone calls, text messages, zoom meetings, FaceTime, or even meeting outside or somewhere safe.  It’s not unusual for two good friends to be waiting for the other to call the other.  Just pick up the phone and call them! You can avoid FOMO (fear of missing out) by doing so. 

2) Five Senses

Using your senses helps to ground you and relieve symptoms of anxiety.  Create a list of activities that you can do that will allow you to focus on your senses.  Activities that engage the senses include some of the following: exercising, drawing, painting, cooking, gardening, listening to music, knitting, gardening, doing a puzzle, etc.

3) Positive Self-Talk

Use positive self-talk and tell yourself that you will get through this.  It’s temporary and this too shall pass.  Stay optimistic and focus on what is going well instead of what is not going well. It’s going to be ok.  Remind yourself just that.  In therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to combat negative self-talk. 

4) Exercise

Exercise can do wonders for our emotional and physical health.  Step up your game since we are in challenging times.  See if you can have a friend or family member do it with you if you don’t want to do it by yourself.  You can go for a walk, run, etc.   Research shows that exercising can be just as effective as therapy.  By doing therapy and exercise you can improve your mood stability. 

5) Tune into your emotions

Acknowledge your emotions and don’t hide from them.  It’s not helpful to bottle them up.  Use these three components: A.) identify your physical sensations, body cues and thoughts B.) Label the emotion C.) Manage the emotion.  Managing your emotions all starts with self-awareness. 

Fun fact regarding emotions.  In therapy, you’ll never hear me say, “well, how does that make you feel.” That’s what you see on TV.  I cringe when I hear that phrase.  You might hear me say, “what was that like for you” or “tell me more about that.”  In therapy, I do put a high emphasis on emotion regulation skills and improving emotional intelligence. 

6) Talk about it

Talking to someone about our problems allows them to not fester and get bigger.  Attending counseling with a therapist can be helpful for this part and has a lot of benefits. Attending therapy can do wonders for your mental health.  Don’t let things bottle up.  Have you ever seen what happens to diet coke when you put a mentos in it? The same things happen if we stuff our emotions and don’t talk about them or process them. 

7) Prioritize your self-care

In challenging times, we must focus more heavily on our own self-care.  What works for non-challenging times might not work for challenging times.  Add additional strategies and tools in your toolbox for these tough times. 

8) Journal 

Journaling can have a helpful impact on your well-being.  There is something to be said about writing things down which allows you to process them.  Journaling on a regular basis can be a powerful tool to generate better self-awareness. If you want some assistance, check out these 10 journaling prompts for mental health to get you started.   Want a good prompt to journal about? Try gratitude to start. 

9) Reading

Find something you enjoy reading and treat yourself.  Read somewhere quiet and enjoy this helpful activity.  So many different reading topics out there – choose one that will lift you up.    

10) Relaxation Techniques

Practice some relaxation techniques.  For example, work on some pleasant imagery where you envision yourself somewhere else while focusing on deep breathing. You can walk throughout through the previously mentioned 5 senses and really work on taking big deep breaths in, and even bigger exhales out.  Breathe in for 3 or 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 or 7 seconds.  Breathe in some relaxation and blow out toxicity.  

I hope that you found these different strategies to be helpful.  Just remember, coping skills and using some of these different strategies require practice to master. Don’t be discouraged if you try one out and it doesn’t work.  Practice, practice, and more practice. Different situations call for different skill sets.  Continue to improve your emotional well-being, get 1% better in all that you do, and be kind to yourself. If you find these to be helpful, you might also like this article that has 15 different stress management coping skills.  

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