The following comes from a family member who has “been there” and used these coping strategies to turn her life around:

  1. Get a therapist and trust the process. Stay focused on your motivation of wanting to feel “normal”. Some things my therapist asked me to do felt useless, even stupid, at the time, but they really did help; just remember this isn’t an overnight fix. It took years to get you to this point, so it may take time to get you out. 
  2. I learned to feel my emotions. We are so conditioned to not express anything negative, lest we face ridicule. Angry? “Triggered!” Guilty? “Probably deserved it!” Sad? “Too emotional!” Stressed? “Doesn’t have it together!” I think many of us don’t even know how to pinpoint exactly what we are feeling any more – we just feel “unhappy” and don’t know why. So I learned to be comfortable expressing my emotions and really think about what I was feeling. Use “I’m angry”, “I’m frustrated”, “I’m lonely”, and also state why. For example, “I’m nervous about paying all the bills this month.” Don’t judge yourself for feeling these things. Feeling things makes you HUMAN and it is good for you! Just make sure you are expressing them in a healthy way (i.e., tell a person they are making you feel upset; don’t physically harm yourself or others.)
  3. I learned that I control the behaviors that come from my thoughts. It was easy for my thoughts to spiral out of control (I can go from, “I have a sore throat” to “maybe it’s cancer” in literally five seconds!). I learned that I was in control of my brain reacting to these thoughts, and I could either shut them off or be proactive about fixing them. If I was worried about a medical issue – see a doctor! Worried about a test – study or talk to the teacher. Worried about bills – start a budget and figure out where I can save money. DON’T let these thoughts sit there and get out of control without doing something about them, even if it is just picking up the phone and talking to someone about them.
  4. Build a solid support system. Surround yourself with people who support your mental health journey and don’t judge you every step of the way. Talk about your feelings and thoughts! Just bear in mind, a therapist is unbiased, so I would recommend them over using a family member as your sole source of therapy.
  5. Write down/make a mental list of everything you have and are grateful for, every day. Get down to the smallest things (diapers for your child, hot water in your shower, a good cup of coffee…)
  6. “Grounding” helps me through panic attacks. Close your eyes and feel, smell, hear everything around you for a minute. You can look up various ways of practicing this online and see what works for you.
  7. Meditation/prayer – I used meditation guides from Andrew Johnson. He makes free apps…you just lie down and listen to what he says for about 15 minutes. It puts you in a deep relaxation state and really helped bring my stress levels down.
  8. Exercise – yoga, aerobics, weights, walking, all help to bring down my stress.
  9. Don’t worry about things you can’t control – it does no good!

Comments are closed.