Positive coping mechanisms are ways of coping with stressors without making our lives even more stressful or making ourselves feel worse, they in fact, can help us solve our issues and help us to feel better.
When it comes to positive coping mechanisms, it’s not just about relaxing, meditating or exercising (although they are all important), it’s about being faced with an issue that is impacting your well-being and either solving the issue or doing something to reduce the stress and negativity of that issue.
There are actually positive ways of managing anger. I used to be such an angry person, I was angry at the world, sometimes at others and myself. Over time I learnt that anger solves absolutely nothing, if anything it can make matters worse, make other people feel worse and it can get you into a lot of shit, well, how is that going to improve the quality of your life? Chances are, it isn’t. Managing my anger became easier when I began to reduce the usage of my negative coping mechanisms and increase my positive ways of coping. By reducing the amount of alcohol I drank, getting rid of my personas and admitting how bad things actually were, it became easier for me to manage and release my anger through exercise, talking or even crying, which all benefit me in more ways than one.
Listening to music.
I absolutely love listening to music, I play music for the vast majority of each day, it’s good for our mental well-being. There is a song or a genre for any emotion you might feel and just listening to it can help you either process that emotion or express it. It can pick us up, help us feel good, help us to be more productive and help us move our bodies, it’s a simple pick me up that doesn’t have negative effects on you. Music helped me during my most depressive years, it has helped calm me during anxious moments and it has motivated me to work out or get shit done, I enjoy the effects music has on me and I like how versatile it is. If I can’t seem to find someone to turn to, music will always be my go to.
Nutrition and mental well-being are closely linked and our diets can reflect our mental health. We all know that a poor diet can leave you feeling sluggish, can increase symptoms of depression and anxiety. Back when I was mentally ill, my diet consisted mostly of processed, unhealthy crap, the quick fix type of foods. The old Emma would never have thought that I would now be eating way more fruits, veggies, meats and natural products as well as cooking meals and snacks from scratch. Cutting back on my sugar, alcohol and saturated fat intake has made a hugely positive change in my mental and physical health.
Laughter really is the best medicine. It strengthens our immune systems, brings people together, boosts our moods, diminishes pain and relieves stress. Laughing relaxes our bodies and helps ease anxiety. I think I’m known as someone who laughs a lot but for me, laughing is so beneficial and after living the majority of my life struggling in that depressive hole, to be able to laugh and actually feel the joys of laughter, it’s a big things for me. Laughter makes you feel good and that feeling stays with you even after the laughter has stopped. Remembering something that made you laugh can bring you feelings of joy and happiness, even if it is just temporary. Humour can help you keep a positive outlook in distressing or upsetting situations. A laugh or even a smile can truly go a long way.
Crying is a natural human response to almost any situation or any emotion you are feeling. When we cry is has a soothing effect on us and it can help us regulate our emotions. I used to hate crying, I saw it as a weakness and I thought others would see it as an opportunity to take advantage of me when I was at one of my most vulnerable points, but I will happily cry in front of people now. I cry when I’m stressed, I cry as a way of releasing anger, I cry when I’m proud of myself and of course I cry when I’m hurt or sad to. I love to have a good cry at least once a month or so (yes…I know, but this is how I manage my mental health…), I can usually feel when I am due a cry as I become more snappy, more irrationally emotional and my stress levels are a lot higher. By having a good cry, I can regulate my emotions and stabilise my mental health.
Positive coping mechanisms can be almost anything that brings you happiness, relaxation, peace, joy and another other uplifting emotion. My other positive ways of coping with life’s challenges are:
- Writing. Trust me when I say, writing it out will make you feel a whole lot better
Eating out. Exploring new restaurants and new foods is something I now absolutely love doing.
- Being around animals
- Getting enough sleep
- Talking. Even now I can still struggle to verbally speak about what is going on in my head, depending on what the issue is but verbally speaking to someone I trust does help lift that weight off my chest.
- Managing my alcohol intake
- Cleaning. I clean purely for the satisfaction I get afterwards, it’s a satisfaction I get from nothing else.
- Colouring. I find colouring to be beneficial in a few ways. It helps bring my mind to the present moment, it releases my emotions through creativity and it soothes me. There is also a feeling of achievement once I have finished colouring in a picture, which of course makes me feel even better about myself.
- Spending some quality time with Mary Jane
- Wearing my heels/nice clothes/make up
- Star gazing
- Sitting in my garden
- Taking photos
- Going to my happy place
- Remaining open minded
- Learning paitence
- Taking responsibilty
- Enjoying nature
- Having respect for myself as well as others
- Forgiving myself and others
- Letting go
Finding positive ways of coping is about trial and error. What works for someone else, it might not work for you and that’s fine! Think about something that makes you not just temporarily happy, but something that release stress or anger, something that helps you to relax or focus, something that helps you remain switched on to your life and what is going on within it. Other positive ways of coping could be:
- Seeking help. This could be through a trusted friend/family member/partner or a professional such as a doctor or therapist.
- Writing a journal
- Going on holidays/mini breaks
- Reconnecting with your hobbies
- Going out with friends
- Going to the gym
- Watching TV/Films (in moderation)
- Problem solving
- Going to a spa
- Taking a bath
- Getting a massage
- Painting your nails
- Getting your hair cut
- Burning a scented candle/incense
- Having a home clearout
- Going for a drive
- Making a list
- Accepting your thoughts/feelings as well as accepting yourself and others
- Putting yourself first
- Taking a nap
The list could go on and on, there are endless ways of positively coping, it’s all about finding, as well as actually realising what makes you feel better about yourself and your life. What makes you feel lighter and makes you feel better about yourself? Find it and use it to improve your overall well-being.
You’ve got this!
Sending my love to you all,