Healthy Coping

» Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Alpha Blog | 0 comments

Healthy Coping

This time of year can bring additional challenges and stress. Due to this, people often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, or food. While these may make an individual feel temporarily relieved, they can have longterm effects and cause addictions and future consequences. Rather than turn to unhealthy ways to deal with stress, here is a list of safe and effective coping methods that can help reduce stress and keep you healthy.

  • Exercise. While exercise may sound daunting when you are already overworked, it is crucial for emotional,mental, and physical well-being. Exercise boost endorphins to improve mood, boosts blood flow and oxygen for increased focus, and has obvious physical benefits. If you aren’t used to physical activity start with something light. Even a 20 minute walk a day can improve your mood and physical health. Try to find a physical activity that matches your interest and schedule. This may be walking or running outside, taking a kickboxing class, lifting weigths by yourself, or joining a yoga club. No matter what sort of physical activity you are doing, you are bound to feel the benefits of it. Just make sure you’re not doing it within 4 hours of bedtime so as not to disturb your sleep patterns.
  • Journaling. Journaling can help you “vent” your feelings in a healthy way without feeling like you are unloading on a friend or family member. Setting aside time each day to get your thoughts out on paper can be extremely therapeutic. Don’t feel pressure to write about certain topics or to write in a certain style. In fact, even if you are just writing random thoughts, words, or doodles you are likely to feel better about whatever is eating you up. Journaling provides a safe environment where you can get out your thoughts, fears, and frustrations without feeling guilty or judged. Try it even for 5 minutes a day.
  • Meditation. Meditation does take a little practice and you may feel a little strange the first few times you do it, but that’s okay! There are many tutorials, classes, etc. that can help you find a meditation strategy that works for you. For beginners, it is best to start small. Set aside 5 minutes a day that you can find a quiet environment without interruption. This means turning off all distractions like your phone and allowing yourself to sit quietly for an entire 5 minutes. Use lighting to set a relaxing environment, and if it helps listen to rain or gentle music. Focus on your breathing and the sounds around you. Try not to allow thoughts from the day or worries about the future come into your mind. Truly try to clear your mind and only focus on your breathing in that moment.Setting a timer can help you really focus and not feel pressure to look at a clock. If you try it and like it, there are a lot of resources that can help you into a deeper meditation or guided meditation.
  • Recreation Time. Even if you can only find 30 minutes a month to spend time doing something you really love, do it. Go to dinner with your best friend, go shopping, take a hike, go for a bike ride. Whatever makes you happy, make time for it at least once this month!
  • Counseling. Even if your stress is temporary, counseling can change your life! If you have never tried counseling, you may not even know all the benefits that it has. Even if you don’t consider your problems as warranting counseling, talking to an unbiased and educated professional can be extremely helpful.  If you do or have considered using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism a professional can also help you stop this behavior, as it can be a very hard cycle to break. Additionally, you may have behaviors that you don’t even understand that a professional may be able to give you some insight about.

We hope that this short list gives you some ideas for improving your stress level. If you are considering counseling, we have qualified and licensed therapists available to meet with you. Please contact us today to schedule your initial meeting!

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