Mental-Health Fridays – “Coping Strategies”
When a mental-health episode comes over you, it can range from overwhelming to debilitating. Try some of these strategies to deal with your feelings, thoughts, and emotions in the moment:
• Accept and acknowledge your emotions. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or depressed. Allow yourself to feel that way for a few minutes. Then start thinking about what you can do to change how you’re feeling.
• 5-3-7 breathing. Sure deep breathing may seem too simple to work, but for some cases, it helps. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 3 seconds, and breathe out for 7 seconds. Repeat!
• Acknowledge your 5 senses. Instead of focusing on a flashback, stressful situation, or trigger, try to bring your 5 senses into focus. What do you hear? What do you smell? Can you feel anything? What do you taste? What or who do you see?
• Try mental reframing. Instead of focusing on the bad, change the situation into something positive. For example, you could say, “My flight is delayed – my whole trip is ruined.” Or you can think, “This delay will allow me to buy a new book and take my time at the airport. I’ll still get where I’m going!”
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Try one of these strategies next time you’re feeling anxious, sad, angry, or frustrated.
For those of you who help a loved one cope with mental health issues, try to suggest these strategies. If further professional help is needed, offer to go with them to an appointment, or simply lend an ear for support.
HOT SHOTS: Avoid added pressure in the first place by working on controlling your stress. Here’s how:
1. Control what you can. Lots of stress is caused by feeling out of control. Instead of focusing on what you can’t change, restructure your daily routine and commit to improving things you can actually control!
2. Delegate and ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for assistance. Delegate smaller tasks and ask for help on larger ones – dividing up the burden can drastically reduce workplace stress.
3. Take responsibility. If something goes wrong, don’t try to cover it up – you’ll cause yourself significantly more stress than if you just own up to the mistake and move forward. Approach your superiors with the problem – bonus points if you already have a solution in mind.
4. Take a break. Take advantage of 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day – especially when you feel too busy or too stressed to take one. Small mental-health breaks will actually help you return to your work with a refreshed and renewed sense of focus.
5. Stay physically healthy. Keeping yourself healthy and happy eliminates many health-related stress issues – eat well and exercise for at least 30 minutes each day to keep those endorphins pumping!