7 Healthy Coping Mechanism Tools To Help You Work Through Life’s Challenges
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lori Jones, LMHC
The ultimate goal for many is to lead a happy, healthy lifestyle. However, achieving this does not guarantee that we won’t experience stress, loss, or difficulty along the way. Learning how to cope with these problems as they come is key to maintaining better mental health and working through these obstacles when they make an appearance. That said, the first step begins with figuring out what these coping mechanisms tools are and how you can apply them to your own life. Do you have trouble coping with stress? If so, here are 7 healthy coping mechanism tools to help you work through life’s challenges. But first, let’s discuss how to see stressors as they indeed are.
Remember, This Too Will Pass
One of the biggest obstacles to working through stress is the failure to accept it or to see it for what it is. Some stress can be good. For example, if you are working on a project for work, and you have a tight deadline, that stress may help you to achieve your goal rather than set you back. However, other forms of stress can be detrimental to your mental health, such as having financial troubles. Whenever we encounter a problem in life, a natural reaction may be to push it away and avoid it. This will often only lead to further issues down the road.
Instead, remember that most problems are only temporary. When we tackle them head-on, we can find ways to work through them and come out on the other side. For the obstacles that aren’t, we can learn to accept them and adapt so that we can overcome them. No matter what you may be dealing with, there are typically ways to work past it or work with it. Having this reminder on your side can be a significant help as you use the coping mechanisms below.
7 Healthy Coping Mechanism Tools To Work Through Challenges
Healthy coping strategies are tools that we can use to work through life’s challenges when they appear. Here are 7 robust coping mechanisms that you can turn to when things become difficult in your own life.
1. Know What Can Trigger You and When You Need De-Stress
If pushing problems and stress away is a natural reaction for you, you may not know that you need to deal with a challenge in your life. Learning how to cope with problems begins with learning how to recognize problems (and your reaction) when they are present. This can include looking for physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, an irritable or sad mood, turning to less healthy coping mechanisms, and feeling fatigued. Knowing how to spot when we are feeling less than our best can reveal to us that we need to identify problems and make changes. Take some time to discover what you feel like and what makes you feel that way when you have the opportunity. Awareness is the first step in creating a change in your life.
2. Work On A Plan of Action And Create Goals When Issues Arise
Some obstacles are temporary, while others may have a long-term effect on us. Either way, choosing to stress and avoid the issue will only result in more problems. The solution? Whenever you encounter an obstacle, ask yourself, what can I do now? Then, set aside some time to create a plan of action as well as goals that will help you work around the problem in your life. Learning how to do this can help you to see that most problems are solvable. Additionally, learning this skill now will help you as you face any issues in the future. When we change our attention to action rather than worry, we may notice that change is as simple as creating and following a plan.
3. Take Care Of Your Physical Health
Our body is better suited to deal with stress and worry when we are healthy. However, not everyone may be taking care of their health to keep their mental and physical health on an even keel. Some simple changes that you can make now to improve these areas include getting plenty of sleep, eating healthier foods, drinking more water, engaging in regular exercise (even if you’re going on a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes a day), and getting outside more often. Building these habits begins with making a conscious effort to pursue them daily and making a point to make them a priority. Although stress will still come, you will be more prepared to tackle it with the right habits.
4. Engage In Relaxing Activities That Help You Break Free Of Your Worry
Learning how to relax is a particular skill. For people who are always on the go, taking time to stop those racing thoughts and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet can seem difficult. For many, however, this moment of relaxation can often be the most enjoyable part of the day. Whenever you encounter something that stresses you out, try to take part in an activity that relaxes you. This may include squeezing in a quick meditation session, doing an exercise such as yoga, soaking in a hot bath, doing deep breathing exercises, or reading your favorite book. Whatever brings you happiness and peace can balance you out when you are feeling stressed. If it calls out to you, pursue it!
5. Maintain Your Support System
Our friends and family can be our most significant tools in helping us work through difficult situations. Besides providing us with moral support and a place where we can voice our concerns, they may also be a source of advice when we need it. Additionally, being around your friends and family can simply be a good feeling on its own. Whether you’re feeling stressed or not, make a point to connect with these important individuals and see them regularly. This will help strengthen your bond and, should anything come up for either person, supply you with help when you most need it.
6. Avoid Any Substances That Can Add To Your Stress
This list consists of healthy coping mechanisms. As such, you may have gathered that there are unhealthy coping skills as well. Two prime examples of what unhealthy coping strategies look like are taking drugs and drinking alcohol. While these substances may help certain people relax and temporarily push away their feelings, they can also lead to substance abuse and alcohol disorders. Even if they don’t cause further problems, they don’t serve to actively help the underlying stress or concern itself. Make sure to avoid any substances that can add to your stress. If you do end up developing a dependence on certain substances, seek out help so that you can overcome these addictions.
7. Try To Reframe Your Thinking When You Encounter Something That Negatively Impacts You
While we cannot always control what happens to us, we can decide how we react to it. Learning how to reframe your thinking when a problem appears can be a great way to help you work through it with ease. Next time you are faced with an issue, ask yourself, how am I currently responding? Take time to see your thoughts as they are and follow up by asking, is there a better way I could respond to this? Are there any positive aspects of the obstacle that I am facing? Learning how to change the way that you think when you encounter an issue can make it easier to deal with them when they do happen. That said, this may be one of the coping skills that will require help to achieve. This brings us to our final recommendation.
Whenever You’re Struggling, Counseling Can Help You Work Through It
Challenges in life are not always something that we may be able to work through on our own. If they have a major impact on us, if we have not yet learned how to cope with certain struggles, or if we aren’t currently in the position to do so, we may need assistance. One great coping mechanism that is always at your disposal is therapy. Therapy is a tool that will allow you to speak about your concerns, receive validation about your feelings (as well as an outside perspective), and gain insight into how certain coping mechanisms can be employed.
Traditional counseling is often the first choice for those who need help. After all, it is likely that you have a therapist relatively close to you. That said, some people may have busy schedules, may live further away from a therapist, or may simply not connect with any therapists around them. This is where online therapy offers solutions.
For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that is designed to make counseling affordable and convenient for everyone. No matter what kind of obstacles you may be dealing with, certified counselors are waiting to help you through them. Additionally, online counseling can make it easier for you to fit your therapeutic needs into your schedule, receiving all the help you need from the comfort of your home. If you want therapy to work for you, BetterHelp can be an effective resource.
Knowing how to deal with stress and obstacles will play a major role in how you navigate many of life’s difficulties. If you do not currently have any coping mechanisms that you use, use the 7 healthy coping mechanism tools to help you work through life’s challenges above. If you need help, remember, counseling is always available.