Positive Coping Strategies for Stress

Life can be / is incredibly stressful. There are too many things that can essentially “take us out” as we cruise through what we hope to be a semi-normal day (what are those, btw…).

I’ve been reworking a lot of my life to include more self-care, essentially practices that promote an optimal lifestyle in all areas of my personal health. With the help of my psychotherapist recently, she’s put together a few activities that she wanted me to try.

So, I thought it might be worth sharing them with you:

Physical and Lifestyle:

Here are 9 things that she wanted me to take a look at in terms of my physical well-being and overall lifestyle. Some of these are activities that I can try and some of those are much larger meta-level changes.

She wanted me to test / experiment and capture my thoughts and experiences down on paper and then, of course, share my results with her.

  1. Abdominal breathing and relaxation (I have a bigger post on this now)
  2. Low-stress diet
  3. Regular exercise
  4. “Down time” (including “mental health days”)
  5. Mini-breaks (5-10 minute periods to relax during the day)
  6. Time management (appropriate pacing)
  7. Sleep hygiene
  8. Choosing a nontoxic environment
  9. Material security

Emotional:

Here are some topics that I have covered with her extensively over the years that she wanted me to take time to analyze and diagnose anew. Get a new “feel” for how I felt about some of these subjects, in other words.

For instance, how I felt about my current “social support” structures and “relatedness” in those relationships. Am I taking the time out to provide opportunities to self-nurture and how is my overall communication style and effectiveness.

  1. Social support and relatedness
  2. Self-nurturing
  3. Good communication
  4. Assertiveness
  5. Recreational activities (“playtime”)
  6. Emotional release
  7. Sense of humor, ability to see things in perspective

Cognitive:

One of the biggest challenges that I have lie here, in my cognitive thinking and how I perceive and interpret the world. If you’re like me, most of the battles are those in my head and removing destructive thinking is crucial to my success, both personally and professionally.

Contextually, I’m a suicide survivor (among other things) and have had challenges with clinical depression, anxiety, and more.

My psychotherapist will continue to ask me how these things are going and what the “temperature inside my head” is and/or has been recently. Am I living a life more with constructive thinking or something else entirely? How distracted am I in my current environment(s)?

  1. Constructive thinking: Ability to counter negative thinking
  2. Distraction: Ability to distract yourself from negative preoccupations
  3. Task-oriented (vs. reactive) approach to problems
  4. Acceptance (ability to accept / cope with setbacks)

Philosophical / Spiritual:

Finally, there are always elements of the philosophical and spiritual in my life and those are just as fundamental and crucial to my success. Many of these have helped me orient not just my thoughts but also my actions and decisions.

The power of having some of these elements in your life cannot be understated. I can think of a dozen times where answers to these questions opened the pathway for some of the most important decisions in my life.

  1. Consistent goals or purposes to work toward
  2. Positive philosophy of life
  3. Religious / spiritual life and commitment

I hope this helps.

[Continue reading about How to Learn to Relax.]