Coping skills that can keep the day from getting worse
- Act opposite emotion When we are experiencing emotions like anger, sadness, frustration or irritation we are often unsure how to navigate our way out of them. Emotions can feel permanent, but in reality they are not fixed. For me an effective method to change my emotion is to engage in a behavior or action opposite to what I really want to do. The other day I was feeling sad and stuck. It was going to be easy to stay in that emotion and lay in bed. So, I took the opposite approach and got up and sat outside on a swing under a tree. I talked to my mom and petted my dog. This simple act helped to work me into a different emotion and I could continue my day. This does not solve what may have caused the original emotion but it places you in a state that is more open to exploring ways to work through it.
- Accept reality Fighting against reality only increases the pain we experience. Sometimes we just have to say, “it is what it is” and move on. In my everyday life I get very upset at traffic. When I get stuck in it my mind spins and I start to think of all the things I could be doing. I could be home already. I could be typing a blog. I could be doing anything but this. Here comes the breathing again. I take a deep breath and remind myself I will eventually get there and until then I can’t do anything. Eventually this skill can help you to accept more painful events. The point is not to forget what happened but to understand that it occurred, and our next steps are to accept it and move forward in healing.
- Be mindful Live more in the present and less in the past and/or the future.This is of course easier said than done but it is worth working on each day. By allowing yourself a check-in each day you can become more aware of your emotions and effectively make conscious decisions that will benefit your mental health. The most common and from what I’ve seen, most effective way, to practice mindfulness is to take a walk. Pay attention to your body. To how it moves as you take each step, to what you feel all the way to the tips of your fingers. Notice the colors around, the sounds of cars, or the rustling of leaves or even what quiet sounds like. Your mind is likely to wander, mine does so go ahead and redirect it. Pick one thing in the present moment like that you are having a particular thought or are hearing a certain sound and get back on track.
- Don’t rush to judgement When we have a negative judgement we will often get lost in emotion. So instead of working through the situation we revel in the anger or frustration. When you become angry or frustrated or irritated stop and use facts to explain the situation. As you explain through the situation state the emotions you are feeling. The other day when I was denied for disability my instant response was negative judgement. I had anger towards the situation. I was mad and didn’t want to let that go. I had to stop for a second and ask myself what the next will be. When I looked into it I still had another chance to petition. I felt disappointed and worried but relieved that I had another opportunity. By taking a moment I saved myself a whole day of sitting in anger and quite possibly slipping into a depression. My pain did not go away but it allowed me to have a productive day. I was able to spend my energy on problem solving and self-awareness.