Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Life is a rollercoaster full of ups and downs. It’s important to be resilient and adapt to change to maintain positive self-esteem and a healthy mind. Different people cope with trauma, stress, or any other event in various ways. Some examples of events that cause stress include losing a job, failing a test, losing a loved one, and more. The Cleveland Clinic states that “Even positive changes-such as getting married or having a child-can be stressful” (“Coping with Life’s Stressors”). My biggest contributor to stress right now is the anticipation of college decisions, which is a tolling and emotional process. Here are some coping mechanisms that lift up my spirits and help me improve my mental wellness. 

It’s important to understand that coping is a process, and practicing these activities a few times may not be enough to overcome your trauma or stress. Also, everything on this list may not work for you, so be open-minded but also flexible. Set goals for yourself in a journal that will help you organize your life and set time aside for you to perform these mechanisms. 

  1. Pick up a new hobby that doesn’t evoke negative stress! I love painting to de-stress after a busy week at school. Painting beautiful landscapes with sunsets, oceans, forests, or mountains is extremely tranquil and I encourage everyone to try an artistic activity similar to painting, even if you’re not a prodigy.
  2. Exercise! Make sure you get at least 60 minutes of active movement everyday. Some examples include going to a local gym and lifting weights, walking on the track, playing a sport, running on a treadmill, or anything else that involves physical activity, as exercise releases dopamine (feel-good chemicals in the brain). Staying holed up in a bedroom glued to a computer causes fatigue and depresses moods.
  3. Practice mindfulness and self care! Prioritizing yourself is incredibly important during stressful times. Whether it be meditating, doing yoga, listening to podcasts, or practicing positive affirmations, anything that makes you feel good is beneficial to your emotional well-being. Personally, listening to music in my free time helps me reflect on my day and slows my thoughts down.
  4. Get at least 8 hours of sleep! As a high school student, I know how difficult it is to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, especially when life consists of activities outside of homework. However, I find it easier to get more sleep if I don’t procrastinate my assignments until the last minute, as I can space out my work for the week. Something I’m still working on is trying not to use electronics at least thirty minutes before bed, as it disrupts the sleep cycle.
  5. Journal! Organizing my thoughts at the end of the day improves my mood. I can identify any negative emotions I may have had and focus on the positive aspects of them, promoting optimism. I call it therapy on paper, as I have a chance to release all my bottled up stress onto paper that no one except me will see, and I can identify my personal needs.

I hope these five coping mechanisms will help you find emotional balance in your life. While meditating or painting may not work for everyone, exploring these options helps discover what works best for you! 

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