Self-Care Coping Strategies

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Self-care coping strategies can help you cope with overwhelming negative emotions/situations. Many of us have never learned how to tap into certain activities that calm and relax the body and mind. Strategies include mindfulness, self-soothing techniques, distractions and journaling.

Mindfulness has been around for ages and it is about being in touch with the present moment. This means you engage the brain in changing any behaviour or emotion. Being in the moment means you are not regretting past events or worrying about the future. You focus completely on the task at hand. That is, be mindful of all your senses and what you are experiencing in the here and now.

Self-soothing techniques has to do with comforting, nurturing and being kind to yourself. One way to achieve this is to think of ways of soothing each of your five senses. Vision; walk in the woods and admire the colours of nature, watch a funny television show, look at some pictures of loved one or watch children play. Hearing; listen to music, sing to yourself, repeat positive statements to yourself or listen to the sound of nature. Smell; enjoy the smell of baked goods, such as, apple pie, scented candles, flowers or favourite perfume. Taste; have a favourite treat like maple walnut ice cream or carrot cake – eat it slowly, savoring each mouthful. Touch; soak in a tub, rub lotion on your body, hug someone or pet your dog or cat. Experience whatever you are touching and notice that touch can be soothing.

Distraction is a surprisingly effective technique for changing your mood. It works because it interrupts your thoughts and forces you to “shift gears.” Distraction provides you with a mental vacation, a respite from your focus on negative moods/situations. When engaging in an activity, such as, exercising, watching television, calling a friend, is both absorbing and interesting, we notice a positive feeling which can provide us with more energy to possibly resolve the difficult situation or see it differently.

Journaling can provide a good outlet for times when you need to vent but don’t have anyone to vent to. Journaling simply consists of writing about your experience and emotion. Whatever you might say to a confidant, you can simply write down in a journal. In effect, the journal itself becomes your confident.

Come up with your own self-care coping strategies that you can access when you are upset or going through a difficult period. Try to come up with as many as you can. The more you can come up with, the better off you will be in improving your mood.

Keeping Health in Mind is a monthly newspaper column made possible with the help of Seaway News and the clinical staff of Tri-County Mental Health Services, a community program of the Cornwall Community Hospital/Hôpital Communautaire de Cornwall.

Organizations: Seaway News, Tri-County Mental Health Services, Cornwall Community Hospital/Hôpital Communautaire de Cornwall

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