Mental Health Minute:
How to Cope
Amanda P. Johnson, MS, LAMFT
Anxiety, stress, worry, and fear are unfortunately a part of our daily routine now more than ever. While all of these feelings are normal and expected during a pandemic (and any other life transition), it is helpful to identify what you are feeling and how to cope with those feelings.
Step One: What You Are Feeling
Knowing what you are feeling helps figure out what coping is most helpful and the type of support you need.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
• All feelings and reactions are normal, okay, and valid.
o Repeat this with me: All feelings are normal! Tired, angry, no motivation, fine, happy, scared, motivated, creative, couch potato; yes, all normal.
• Acknowledge and label the feeling.
o Acknowledging and labeling feelings brings more clarity and makes them less powerful, not more powerful.
o 5 Basic Feelings: mad, sad, glad, scared, embarrassed = a good place to start if you are feeling lost (again, that is normal!)
• Our physical bodies give us cues to our feelings.
o Close your eyes, breathe and notice: heart racing, thoughts racing or blank, throat tight, chest heavy, stomach upset, muscles tense, and/or fidgety.
Step Two: How To Cope
There are several different coping skills. It is helpful to figure out what works best for you. Also, there are two different kinds: emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping – we need both.
• Hot bath or shower
• Alone time
• Time with friends & family
• Compassionate self-talk
• Create a schedule
• Plan healthy and fun meals
• Schedule time to worry
• Make lists
• Write down thoughts
• Healthy boundaries with screens
• Ask for help