You’re changing, growing, and sometimes have important decisions to make, like thinking about which classes to take, maybe getting a part time job, or even college or university. It’s important to learn to deal with these stressful times, and to think about your emotions in a healthy way, especially since stress can affect your mental and physical health. To help you through these harder times there are a bunch of different coping mechanisms that you can use.
First, try to just identify what you are feeling:
- Name the feeling. What emotion are you experiencing? Are you sad, stressed, angry, anxious, joyful, disappointed, excited or embarrassed?
- Accept what you’re feeling. Many people worry that acknowledging their feelings will intensify them. So they avoid their feelings, in hopes that they’ll just go away, but avoidance might only fuel your emotions. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel your feelings. Try saying to yourself, “It’s okay to feel ________.”
- Express your feeling. Usually expressing a feeling is the only one way to start dealing with it. You can express your feelings by writing about them, or talking to someone you trust. Just be sure that whatever activity you choose, it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else.
- Pick a healthy way to take care of yourself. What do you need right now to take care of yourself?
Once you’ve thought about exactly what you’re feeling, and started thinking about how to express it and take care of yourself, know that there are lots of ways to manage stress and feelings, and to help you cope. Here are a few ideas to help get you started with reducing stress and coping in a healthy way:
Relaxation exercises, like mediation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization, can be great ways to help you relax and deal with stress, and are very easy to do! It might be helpful to sit in a dark, quiet room, but you can do these anywhere. You can also use the 5 senses activity to help you think positively. Revisit a happy memory and list or think of two things for each sense: 2 things you see, 2 things you hear, 2 things you feel, 2 things you smell, 2 things you taste.
As an example, if your favourite happy memory is camping with your family, your list might look like this:
- 2 things I see: the stars and all of the trees
- 2 things I hear: the river and someone singing campfire songs
- 2 things I feel: the warmth of the fire and the fresh breeze
- 2 things I smell: the log fire and campfire cooking
- 2 things I taste: toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate!
This activity may help you to visualize, reduce stress, and focus on a time that you were feeling happy and positive.
For relaxation downloads, including calming music, visualization exercises, and deep breathing exercises, you can visit the University of Dartmouth’s Wellness page: https://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html
Did you find these tips helpful? We hope so! Stay tuned – we’ll have more Coping Skills Toolbox tips posted soon!