You can’t control what happens to you in life, but you can control how you react to it. Understanding this fully will free you from a lifetime of misery. Sure, some obstacles are hard to overcome and will impact you. But there is a silver lining that you can work towards managing your suffering well, so that the initial trauma doesn’t become a lifetime of it. In this article, we’re going to share 14 coping mechanisms you can use in different situations that will help you heal your pain and move forward from tough moments.
14 Coping Mechanisms You Can Use for Different Situations
Guided meditation is a coping mechanism you can use to help you deal with your negative thoughts. Often, after a seriously traumatizing event, we find ourselves stuck in thought loops. The same thoughts will replay and we won’t be able to find a way out of our minds. As a result, we start to ruminate more and have more negative thoughts than usual. With meditation, you learn how to regain control of your mind again. So, when your mind feels like it’s spiraling, take ten minutes to meditate daily and master your mind. Knowing how to calm the mind when things start to feel overwhelming is crucial to your long-term happiness. With meditation, you can start with only ten minutes and build up to an hour of meditation to truly become a mastermind.
2. Problem solving
When something doesn’t go as planned, going into problem solving mode is a coping mechanism that’s practical. Be careful to use this technique to avoid feeling the emotions that come with the problem, though. However, problem solving as a coping mechanism can help you out a ton. Thinking about all the possible solutions and the consequences or outcomes that come with all of them can be a helpful exercise in helping you move forward from trauma or hardship. You can also seek the input of others when it comes to problem solving as people often do like sharing their opinions. But the ultimate path forward needs to be chosen by you so you don’t have any regrets.
3. Deep breathing
There are countless deep breathing exercises you can do to help you cope with difficulties. You might do box breathing where you inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, and exhale for four counts. You could also do alternate nostril breathing exercises where you close one nostril, breathe in deep, exhale, then close the other nostril. Breathing from your diaphragm can be an effective way to get some deep breathing exercises in to help slow your heart rate when feeling anxious or stressed to help you better cope with difficult situations, such as workplace conflicts, tension at home, or school stress.
One of the coping mechanisms you can try for different situations is journaling. When you use journal prompts to guide you or if you just jot down all the wild thoughts running through your mind, you’ll be able to take things out of your mind and put them on paper. A paper you can crumple up and throw out in a therapeutic way. A paper you can completely destroy. You can also use journaling as an exercise to reframe your thoughts. You might write down some examples of thoughts floating around in your head then write down an alternate thought to replace that original thought with.
Work on rewiring that brain of yours. Alternatively, you can also use journaling to write out your feelings towards a person who hurt you, left you, loved you, or died. It could be a way to express what you need to, so you can finally let go of the pain and move on with your life.
A coping mechanism you can use when feeling tense or pent up is exercise. You might go for a run to jog out the anxiety when feeling anxious. Or you might lift weights to manage the adrenaline pumping through your veins when angry. You could dance to help you feel good. Or you can do martial arts to teach you how to defend yourself from a physical attack. With so many different exercises you can do, you’ll be able to find one you enjoy that can help you manage stress, a bad day, or help you overcome obstacles. You don’t need to be a fitness buff to do this either. Even going for a walk outdoors to get some sunshine can be therapeutic in helping you better tackle a problem.
Distraction is one of the most common coping strategies you can use. However, sometimes it can be negative to do this. When going through a difficult time, distraction can serve to help you move past a problem. Men are more likely than women to use distraction as a coping mechanism. For example, you might see them playing video games after a hard day at work. Doing a hobby can be a healthy way to distract yourself when going through a tough time. However, be mindful of the people around you. If you’re distracting yourself when someone in your family needs you, you shouldn’t let your distraction coping mechanism take you away from the people who matter.
In the stages of grief, denial is the first coping mechanism people do. Sometimes, when something bad happens, we deny that it’s real. “He can’t be dead, I just got off the phone with him three hours ago.” Denial is a common reaction to bad news. You usually don’t skip this step in the process of grief. Yet, once you’re over the denial, you get to move onto the next stage. Denial isn’t really helpful from a logical perspective, but emotionally it might be crucial to help us deal with unpleasant emotions or news. Sometimes, we need to see it to believe it. And if we don’t see it, we can pretend like it’s not happening.
8. Talk therapy
Going to therapy can be a helpful coping mechanism you do to help you manage difficulties in life. Whether you do cognitive behavioral therapy or just bounce problems and solutions back and forth with your therapist. The key to success in therapy is to do the work. You shouldn’t be staying in therapy for years just cycling the same problems repeatedly. If your therapist recommends meditation books, hobbies, activities, or exercises for you to do, you should do them. Not only will you surprise your therapist for actually putting in the work, but you’ll move towards healing at a much faster rate than you expected. Going to therapy isn’t the cure or treatment, it’s the homework you get from it that solves the problem.
One of the healthier coping mechanisms you can do is reframing. Reframing is when you express something slightly differently. We can spend our whole lives looking at ourselves as victims while everyone around us is the villain, or we could zoom out a bit and realize that we actually play both roles in our lives with different people. Having this understanding will make it easier to empathize with others, better support and uplift the people in our lives (whether we’re fans of them or not), and help us enjoy life more. For example, instead of thinking, “How could I forgive them if they hurt me” you think to yourself “They probably hurt me because they were also hurt. I’ve done that to others before too.”
Visualization can be a helpful coping tool to use when you want to imagine a better future for yourself. If you’re going through a breakup, you can visualize a boyfriend or girlfriend who treats you with respect, helps you out, is kind, and so on. If you lose your job, you can visualize finding a better paying job that you enjoy. When you’re starting a new business or project, you can visualize yourself achieving success to help guide you towards that goal. Writing down your goals can also be a helpful way to visualize. It’s not necessarily about manifesting your destiny, it’s about believing in yourself that you can accomplish a goal, desire, want, or need in your life. Half the battle of success is knowing you can achieve it. Visualization helps with that.
Think about the last time you felt burnt out at work, what did you end up doing? For most people, we take vacations. Relaxation can be a helpful and very necessary way to cope with the stresses of work or our lives. Whether you’re going to a resort in the Dominican Republic or heading to a local thermal spa for a full day of pampering, whatever helps you unwind and relax can help you manage the stresses of your life. Finding time for relaxation is crucial to help you deal with challenges. Think about all the times you got frustrated or mad at something simply because you were overworked. If you create more time to relax in the evenings, weekends, holidays, or planned vacations you can better manage your emotions, which will ensure you act well too.
12. Mindful eating
Mindful eating is a great coping mechanism to help you deal with stress at school or work stress. With obesity on the rise, it’s clear that more people are turning to food for comfort and convenience. When we have a bad day, we know we can eat a delicious meal to make us feel good again. But sometimes the meals that make us feel better don’t actually help us. Having a daily dessert or take out meal will cause long-term issues even if they solve short-term problems. Being mindful of what you eat will help you sleep better, improve your health, keep your cognitive functions sharp, and more. Having a balanced diet that’s low in processed sugars and refined carbohydrates will help ensure you can manage your day’s problems with ease.
Like mentioned above, having hobbies can be a helpful strategy. Video games can help people manage their stress while giving them an outlet to experience a new world. You can also build things like furniture, computers, robots, telescopes, decor pieces, jewelry, and more. If creating things doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, consider hobbies that allow you to learn a new skill, such as learning a language, drawing, website design, and more. You can also develop an active hobby, such as running, archery, backpacking, gymnastics. Or challenge yourself with a game of chess or learn to crochet.
You can also play instruments or learn to sing. When you improve yourself by learning new skills, you’ll feel a sense of fulfillment that allows you to grow. As you grow and evolve, you become more confident in yourself. So, hobbies as a coping mechanism can help you become better and help you manage stress.
Regression is sometimes used as a coping mechanism for handling difficult situations. It’s is when we act like an earlier version of ourselves. For example, you might act like a child as an adult. We do this because it helps us relax and manage stress. We often wish we could go back to an earlier point in our lives when things were much simpler for us. A very easy way to see regression happening is when we run into old friends. If you’re in your thirties and run into a friend from high school, you both might start acting and talking the same way you did back then. Even though regression does make you move backwards, it can happen to anyone at any age.
Relying on coping mechanisms can make or break us. We all need to turn to something during our time of need. Whether you dive into hobbies, meditation, or journaling you’ll find your way through your rough patch. It’s normal to sometimes regress or deny something that’s happened. Sooner or later, you’ll have to deal with that which causes you grief though. Finding a therapist or the right support person can help you deal with life’s challenges. If you’re looking to start meditating to help you cope with stress, you can sign-up for the Declutter The Mind meditation app for free.