Annette Nay, PhD

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Coping Tools
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright 1999

Many people have poor coping skills. So when bad or stressful times happen, they chose food, drugs, or indulge in other behaviors to an excess, to bury all their problems. Instead of choosing to participate in unhealthy behaviors to relieve distressing feelings or procrastinate; use these coping tools to cope with the problem, until you can get fix it.

Never try to cover problems up. They will always come back. When they do they are usually worst than they originally were. 
The problems you have been hiding from yourself tend to fester and finally explode. Then you have to deal with all of them at once. You could not deal with the problems one at a time, but now you have all of them to deal with all at once. This often results in suicide. Instead of choosing suicide, get help immediately!

The following is a list of things you can do to cope with problem while rationally thinking of ways to work them out:

  • Figure why you are stressed and reduce the stress.
  • Ask your God/Higher Power to help you get through this situation.
  • Talk over your feelings with a significant other, your sponsor, or share in meetings like OA, AA, CA, or NA.
  • Do something to occupy your mind when destructive thoughts enter.
  • Exercise! Exercise causes a natural endorphins to be released in the brain, which lifts your mood.
  • Play music that makes you happy. Sing or hum with the music. This causes a natural lift mood.
  • Listen, read, or watch something humorous. Laughter causes a natural lift mood.
  • Sleep.
  • Mentally relax each part of your body, one part at a time. Then use deep breathing. Breath in through the nose for a slow count of three and blow out through the mouth for a slow count of three.
  • Write down your feelings or thoughts, honestly, in a journal. This helps you to understand what your feelings and thoughts. It helps you to clearly strategize what to do to solve your problems.
  • Play an instrument.
  • Shower, take a hot bath, or take a jacuzzi. These will relax tense muscles and you so you can think better and find solutions to problems.
  • Take a walk to clear your head or strategize.
  • Take a drive, but not if your angry. Drive carefully.
  • Talk to the dog or an empty chair to work through your feelings. Do not stuff your feelings!
  • Scream into a pillow to relieve your tension.
  • Use a heating pad, electric blanket, or hot water bottle to reduce aches and pain. (For swelling, use an ice pack.)
  • Cry! It reduces stress, while releasing toxins through the tears, which helps you to feel better.
  • If you hurt physically, use an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed. If pain persists, see a doctor.
  • Act as if you already are the way you want to be. Fake it 'til you make it! (See: Sally Field's book: Who am I Now)
  • List your favorite colors, smells, sounds, things, and people. Surround yourself with these things and people to help you to be happy or less stressed.
  • Do something to occupy your time. For example:
    • rent a video
    • go fishing
    • work on the car
    • get a spousal back rub
    • clean the house
    • do a service for someone
    • go bowling
    • do a hobby
    • fix something
    • go to the library
    • read a book
    • write a letter
    • bird watch
    • visit a friend/neighbor
    • window shop
    • cloud watch
    • clean up the yard
    • go hiking


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