Coping Strategies For Unpleasant Emotions

We’ve all experienced it before. Being face with a challenging situation, a terrible experience, or just feeling overwhelmed with all the things that we need and want to do in life. Trust me I have been there!! This is by far the toughest year for me! Besides COVID-19 and living in a society with so many racial injustices, my father, my heartbeat, my love, suffered a massive Hemorrhagic Stroke. My world has changed since, and focusing on different coping strategies has been a great help!  In order to build your coping skills, it’s important to understand what self-regulation (self-control) is. Self-regulation is the ability to manage your emotions and behavior in difficult situations. It involves acting in your long-term best interest and remaining consistent with your deepest values. Being able to self-regulate your emotions, meant that you are able to resist highly emotional reactions, calm down when you are upset, and appropriately handle frustrations without an outburst that you may end up regretting (let’s try not to knock anyone out today, okay?!)

 


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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COPE?

Simply put, it is how you deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties that you encounter in life. Did you know that there are 6 types of coping skills? If you didn’t know, well you’re at the right place!! Let’s get into it!

TYPES OF COPING SKILLS

 

Self-Soothing: comforting yourself through your five senses (touch, hear, taste, smell)

Distraction: finding something that will take your mind off your problem for a while (DIY crafts, music, movies, exercise)

Opposite Action: doing something opposite of what you are currently feeling (looking/listening to something motivational, saying positive things about yourself)

Emotional Awareness: taking a moment to identify and express your feelings (drawing, journaling, writing out your emotions)

Mindfulness: taking a moment to center yourself in the present moment (meditation, relaxation, stretching, deep breathing)

Crisis Plan: reaching out for additional support when coping skills aren’t enough (therapist, family, friends, psychiatrist, 911)


UNHEALTHY COPING SKILLS TO AVOID

We all cope differently and sometimes the way in which we cope can be unhealthy. Unhealthy coping skills may make us feel better in the moment, but it usually results in negative consequences and can end up being harmful to us or others. Here are some unhealthy coping skills. Does any look familiar to you?

  • Becoming violent
  • Yelling/screaming
  • Self-harm
  • Reckless behaviors (for example, engage in risky sexual activities)
  • Shutting down
  • Emotionally eating
  • Oversleeping
  • Destroying property
  • Substance use
  • Avoiding the problem

 


HEALTHY COPING SKILLS TO TRY

  • Give Deep breathing a try. This is a great technique to help bring you back down to baseline. Take a few deep breaths for 3-5 minutes.  What you want to do first is to make sure you are in a quiet area and you are comfortable. Next, close your eyes and start to focus on the air going in and out of your body. Take a big deep breath and count to five in your head slowly. NOW, slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat for 3-5 minutes or until your body is starting to feel less tense.
  • Listen to relaxing music. This too will help to release built-up tensions in the body and put your mind in a more relaxed state. If you love music just like I do, check out Lo-Fi hip-hop/Jazz Live Radio. Feel the tension melting away.
  • Not in the mood for music, listen to some audiobooks.
  • Eat a healthy snack or meal. My favorite food blogger to follow is Orchids and Sweet tea. Amazing, healthy, and organic recipes! What’s not to love!
  • In the mood for something sweet like ice cream? If you are in New York, check out Malai Ice-cream Shop. Indian ice-cream that is simply the best!!! Target and Whole Foods Market has some great options both vegan and dairy.
  • Try Yoga. This at-home equipment yoga set is super cute!
  • Have a spa day either at home or visit one near you. If you are in New York/New Jersey area, Check out Spa Castle and Sojo Spa. You can also purchase items to create your own luxurious spa day at home.

 

JUST A FEW MORE IDEAS TO TRY
  • Try some easy DIY projects at home.
  • Talk with a trusted friend. Share your feelings so that it is not bottled up inside. The longer you hold it in, the more overwhelmed you will begin to feel until it becomes too much for you, and it results in an outburst or mental breakdown.
  • Try some at-home workouts. I absolutely love Sydney Cummings, and Mr. and Mrs. Muscle YouTube Channel. Look cute while working out at home!
  • Engage in self-affirmation. Say out loud phrases of affirmation to help boost your mood and overall confidence.  Some of the affirmations I say daily are, “I am beautiful!” “I am a kind” “I am patient” “I am in control” “This will not break me, and if it does, that’s okay”. What others can you think of?
  • Look at a favorite movie or TV Show. Here are some of my favorite Netflix shows “Elite”, “Outer Banks”, “Money Heist”, “What If”, “Dynasty”, “Blood and Water”, “The Umbrella Academy”, “The Crown”, “Greenleaf”. Have Amazon Prime Video? Then check out “Pretty Big Lies”, “Power”, and “Succession”.
  • Break the problem down, and tackle it step by step. When I look at a problem/situation on a whole, it always causes me to feel overwhelmed, but once I break it apart and tackle it bit by bit, it definitely helps. Give it a try. All our problems do not need to be resolved in one day.

sources

Psychology Today. (2011). Self Regulation: to better focus on what is most important.

Throw Bridge Users Service Group. (2020). six types of coping skills.

Rebekah Charles

Rebekah Charles

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Hello & Welcome!

HEY! I’m Rebekah, but everyone calls me Bekah or Becky.

I work for adults who suffer from Mental Illnesses and/or have Intellectual Disabilities. I provide Behavioral Therapeutic Services, among other services to this population.

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