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60 Simple Healthy Coping Skills For Your Mental Health

Are you looking to add healthy coping skills to your toolbox? Keep reading for simple ways to help yourself cope. Healthy coping skills are ways an individual deals with life stressors. Specific coping skills vary from person to person, so you must take time to find what works best for you and, most importantly, be kind towards yourself. You are doing the best you can.

healthy coping skills

Challenges in life are unavoidable. We all have to face things that could be better, and it can be easy to get discouraged. It is helpful to have different healthy coping skills to help you build resilience and increase your ability to withstand life stressors. 

It can be confusing to understand what coping skill works for you, so it is essential to practice them when you are not feeling overwhelmed, so you can add them to your toolbox for when you need to use them. Problem Focused Coping 

I have compiled a list of coping skills you can use whenever you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed. Whether you are looking for healthy coping skills for addiction or healthy coping skills for uncomfortable emotions, this list will give you some great simple ideas. So take what you need and make coping cards or healthy coping skills worksheet for easy access.

What Does Healthy Coping Mean?

Coping is how you respond to stressful situations using tools and techniques to help you manage your emotions, reduce stress, and gain control. People engage in healthy or unhealthy ways to address life's challenges.

There is a difference between healthy vs unhealthy coping skills. Healthy coping skills are different from avoidance skills. With healthy coping skills, you first manage your emotions and eventually deal with the problem or situation instead of ignoring it and not dealing with it entirely.

Healthy coping skills examples include journaling, therapy, taking a walk, breathing exercises, etc. Avoidance is a form of unhealthy coping skills along with substance use, over or under-eating, sleeping too much or too little, excessive spending, etc.
We will focus on the two basic types of coping skills: problem-focused and emotion-focused.

1) Problem Focused Coping is when you take active steps to solve your problem or improve your situation. For example, if you are feeling burnt out at work, you might talk to your supervisor to delegate some tasks to others so that you can have time for yourself.

2) Emotion Focused Coping is when you try to reduce the intensity of the negative emotion caused by the stressful events you are experiencing. This can include distraction techniques, breathing exercises, and talking about your feelings. For example, if you feel anxious after an argument with your friend, you could try temporarily distracting yourself by watching a movie.

List Of Coping Skills For Your Mental Health

Healthy Coping Skills for Stress

1. Write in your journal

Journaling is a highly effective coping skill for stress relief.

Writing down your thoughts, emotions, and urges related to the stressful event can help you compartmentalize your worry thoughts, help you gain self-knowledge, and problem-solve effectively.

2. Get out into nature

According to a study, spending 20 minutes in nature significantly dropped cortisol levels.

It does not matter what time of the day or setting. So the next time you are feeling stressed out and looking for a low-cost solution, get outside and take a 20-minute nature pill. 

3. Listen to music

Listening to music when you are feeling stressed out is incredibly powerful. It allows you to slow down and temporarily disconnect from your thoughts. It is another great inexpensive distraction technique to add to your list of healthy coping skills. 

Whether you are feeling sad or anxious, there is always a song that can help.

4. Watch a funny movie

Who doesn't like a good, heartfelt movie? It allows you to temporarily step away from your life and enter someone else's world.

So when you are feeling stressed out, watch a funny movie. Like music, this is a low-cost distraction that can help create some distance between your thoughts and allow you to pause before responding to your stressors.

6. Go for a walk

Walking is a great stress buster. It allows you time to think about your stressors and creates distance between your negative thoughts and feelings. In addition, it is a great way to ground yourself in the present moment as you pay attention to your surroundings, move your body, and get some fresh air.

Take a walk the next time you feel stressed out and need a quick release of endorphins.

7. Meditate 

Meditating is a simple and effective stress-management tool to help reduce stress levels and brain chatter. It is scientifically proven that eight-week meditation can help alleviate stress.

If you are a beginner to meditation, use apps like Calm or Headspace to help you get started.

8. Take a social media break

It is easy to keep scrolling when you are stressed out. However, there may be more effective strategies. While social media helps you stay connected to other people, there are also aspects of it that negatively impact your mental health. Therefore, it is essential to check in with yourself and periodically reflect on your relationship with social media when you feel stressed out. 

Taking a social media break can include:

  • Scaling back how much you scroll.
  • Turning off your notifications.
  • Connecting with people in person.
  • Putting your phone in another room and directing your attention elsewhere.

9. Spend time with friends and family

It is normal to have thoughts and urges to withdraw and isolate yourself when stressed out. However, having strong, positive relationships with others increases your ability to cope with stressors and helps you thrive.

It also allows you to challenge yourself to rely on others when you need support and have additional help with problem-solving. On the other hand, if you don't need help problem-solving, sometimes it's just nice to have people who will listen to your stressors and be there for you.

10. Take a warm bath

A bath is a great way to calm your nervous system when stressed out.

When the warm water touches your skin, similar to the sun's warmth releasing your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins, improving your mood and reducing stress.

11. Spend time with your pet

Spending time with your pets can decrease your stress-related hormone and increase feelings of social support.

You don't need to have your own pet to enjoy the benefits. You can visit your friend's dog or a nearby dog park.

12. Take a vacation

Sometimes we get so busy with our day-to-day lives a change of scenery can help improve our mental health. For example, when traveling, you are more open to trying new things that make you happy. When you feel happy, your body releases the hormone serotonin.

You don't need to take an extravagant trip to consider it a vacation. Sometimes all you need is a day trip that gives you a break from your routine.

13. Sip some herbal tea

Your day-to-day life may have many different stressors, and it is important to find a way to reduce those stress levels so you can get restful sleep and be ready for the next day.

It can be hard to fall asleep naturally when stressed out, and the urge to watch tv or scroll on your phone can be extremely tempting. However, healthy coping skills pdf for stress means engaging in activities like sipping tea before bed to lower cortisol and stress levels.

14. Get enough sleep at night

When you are feeling stressed out, that can impact your sleep quality. Lack of sleep can significantly impact other areas of your life. If anxious thoughts keep you up at night, that can further increase your stress levels.

Lowering stress levels before bed is essential to help improve sleep quality. This may include mindfulness, sipping tea, journaling, light stretching, consistent sleep times, etc.

15. Moderate caffeine intake

Caffeine is a socially accepted addiction. People always joke about how they cannot function without their morning coffee. The days people do not consume coffee, there is a visible decrease in productivity. You may need to realize how many products you consume contain caffeine.

Moderate caffeine consumption can help lift your mood and boost your mood. However, high amounts can do the opposite. It increases your body's stress hormone (cortisol) and dopamine levels, making you feel low as the caffeine wears off.

16. Exercise

Exercise is the most underutilized healthy coping skills for anger. When stressed out, moving your body can significantly benefit your mental well-being. Stress impacts your entire body, and when your physical body is being taken care of, that will affect your brain as well. Engaging in exercise can help produce endorphins and help you blow off steam.

You don't need to stay in the gym for 1-2 hours to reap the benefits. Just moving your body for 5-15 minutes will help.

17. Deep breathing

One of the most significant benefits of deep breathing is calming down your sympathetic nervous system, which controls your fight or flight response. When we are feeling stressed out, our breathing patterns can change. Diaphragmatic breathing can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your relaxation response signaling your body to slow breathing.

Think of turning down the volume on your sympathetic nervous system and increasing the volume on your calm system.

Learning diaphragmatic breathing

18. Practice ways to slow down

Slowing down your life a little is more important than ever and often underrated. We live in a fast-paced world where we are constantly stimulated and connected. That can add to the stress you may be experiencing. You may find yourself either thinking about your to-do list, worrying about the future, or beating yourself up about things that happened in the past. It can be hard to experience the present moment. 

When your body is stressed, it needs time to rest and recover. Pausing to slow down can include:

  • Engaging in one task at a time.
  • Reading a book.
  • Going for walks and/or spending time with friends.

You are allowing yourself to bring your attention to what is important to you right now.

19. Engage in a hobby

Engaging in a hobby that you enjoy can help improve your mental well-being. Our culture focuses on productivity, so much so that we have adopted this on-the-go lifestyle.

Hobbies provide a creative outlet and relieve relief stress by serving as a distraction from work & daily schedules.

20. Identify and reduce cause of stress

Stress is not always bad. Moderate levels of stress can be beneficial and are known as eustress. Eustress is manageable and can motivate you to pursue your goals.

Experiencing chronic stress can lead you to experience anxiety, depression, and other unhelpful emotions. Therefore, while managing stress levels is essential, identifying what is causing the stressors and figuring out ways to problem-solve them is also important.

Healthy Coping Skills for Anxiety

21. 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is an intentional style of deep breathing by Dr. Andrew Weil that helps manage stress and anxiety. This breathing technique is beneficial to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and suppress the sympathetic nervous system.

This is a healthy coping skill to add to your daily routine and does not necessarily have to be limited to when you experience anxiety.

22. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is another excellent healthy coping skill for anxiety and stress. This technique was introduced by Dr. Edmund Jacobson and involved intentionally creating tension and feelings of relaxation in all major muscle groups inducing relaxation.

Engaging in this practice correctly can help with some immediate relief from anxiety, making it a top tool to add to your coping toolbox.

23. Grounding Exercise

Grounding yourself in your surroundings is a great way to manage your anxiety. What is the 5 rule for anxiety? It is a 5-4-3-2-1 technique that lets you bring your attention to the present moment and distracts you from your anxiety. 

  1. Name 5 things you can see around you
  2. Name 4 things you can touch around you
  3. Name 3 things you can hear around you
  4. Name 2 things you can smell around you
  5. Name 1 thing you can taste

24. Challenge negative thoughts

Anxiety can be a healthy emotion. It allows us to work towards our goals and help problem solve. When anxiety debilitates our problem-solving ability, it starts going out of control. Challenging your unhelpful and anxious thoughts can help you look at your thoughts more closely and work through things that make you fearful.

When you become more in control of your feelings instead of engaging in avoidance coping, you become better equipped to handle how you react.

Write the anxiety down on paper: what are you anxious about, why, and what is the worst that can happen? If the worst did come true, how would you cope with this?

25. One Mindfully

Our lives are so busy that we constantly jump from one task to the next. As a result, if you struggle with anxiety, you may find yourself operating on autopilot. One mindfully is a popular DBT skill that allows you to engage in one activity at a time with awareness.

Moving your focus to the present moment with complete awareness allows you to deal with challenges as they come.

26. Mandala coloring pages

Coloring is a healthy way to manage anxiety. Mandala coloring requires attention to detail and concentration, inducing calmness and reducing anxiety. The benefit of this activity is that you can do this anywhere and anytime.

Play calming music, sit in the sun, and color away for added benefits.

27. Garden outside 

Gardening has numerous health benefits, and reducing anxiety is one of them. In addition, it is a great way to connect with nature and practice mindfulness requiring you to be aware of the present moment.

Whether trying to improve your mood or seek a new therapeutic hobby, try gardening.

28. Use aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of utilizing essential oils for therapeutic benefits.

It can be a great way to use your senses and reduce anxiety. As you inhale the oil, it helps stimulate your Central Nervous System, reducing your anxiety. In addition, there are many fun flavors to pick and choose from, allowing you to create a practice individualized to you.

29. Do some yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that has several benefits, including reducing anxiety symptoms. When you are feeling anxious, yoga is a great way to slow down and direct your focus to your breath.

When you are anxious, your body enters fight-flight-or-freeze mode, activated by your sympathetic nervous system. This activation puts you on high alert for perceived dangers, and your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and breath starts reacting to these perceived dangers. Yoga helps your body slow down and makes it realize it is not in danger. The tension is replaced with relaxation.

If you are looking for a way to engage in the present moment rather than staying stuck in your anxiety loop, step on the mat and get a boost in your mood.

30. Take a nap

Taking a nap helps with mood regulation and reducing anxiety. If you have trouble sleeping at night, keep your nap times short. A quick 20-minute power nap can refresh you and improve your focus.

31. Dance it out

When you are feeling anxious, you may physically feel your emotions in your body. Dancing is a great way to express them when you feel that way since it requires a mind-body connection.

Dancing also helps release dopamine- your pleasure hormone instead and serves as a way to release tension and emotions through movement. So the next time you feel anxious, dance to your favorite song.

32. Get creative with coping

Creative coping is another excellent way of tapping into healthy emotional expression. It can include cooking, drawing, painting, creating a collage, or dancing.

Active coping does not have to be limited to specific strategies. The idea is to create a toolbox of healthy coping skills for YOU! That means you find what works and does not work when anxious.

33. Engage in a distraction strategy

Purposeful use of distraction can help you cope with your anxiety by temporarily taking your attention away from your emotions.

It is a great technique that helps prevent engaging in unhealthy coping skills and behaviors that can occur when we experience a strong feeling. You can do several things to engage in this skill, including cleaning your house, watching a funny movie, calling a friend, or playing a fun game. Find healthy distractions that work best for you. 

Once the intensity of your emotion decreases, you can use another coping skill to manage your anxiety effectively.

34. Do yoga

When you are feeling anxious, your body is operating in overdrive. As a result, your parasympathetic nervous system or your calm system is underactive. You want to stimulate your vagus nerve to activate your calm system and connect with your mind and body. Yoga helps stimulates your vagus nerve and enables you to feel grounded.

Whether you like to go to a yoga studio or want to practice from the comfort of your house, yoga is easily accessible to most making it a great addition to your list of healthy coping skills.

35. Clean your living space

When you feel anxious, cleaning your living space can help boost your mood and reduce anxiety.

Simple changes to organize your space include making your bed, doing the dishes, or managing your workspace.

36. Sit outside in the sun

Exposure to the sun increases our serotonin levels, which helps boost our mood and makes us feel less anxious.

Get outside by taking a walk and enjoying the warm sun.

37. Exercise

When you feel anxious, your mind may be racing with different unhelpful thoughts along with the physical symptoms of feeling anxious. Exercise is an excellent way of coping with your anxiety as it helps relax your body and muscles.

Move your muscles and change your thoughts.

38. Go on a relaxing drive

Play your favorite song and go on a relaxing drive to help reduce ruminating about stressful thoughts. 

39. Take a break from your to-do list

Taking breaks from your to-do list is good for your brain. It allows you to slow down to do nothing and just be intentional.

Don't be afraid to give yourself some time in a world that is constantly moving.

40. Practice positive affirmations

What you tell yourself matters. Practicing positive affirmations when feeling anxious can help change unhelpful thoughts to more balanced ones. It is a great way to engage in intentional positive self-talk.

Healthy Coping Skills for Depression

41. Practice self-compassion

It can be hard to be kind to yourself when feeling low and depressed. However, self-compassion helps remind you to be understanding rather than self-critical when you feel inadequate.

You can accept your reality and embrace it with kindness giving yourself the encouragement you need.

42. Get outside 

When you are feeling depressed, encourage yourself to go outside. You get the necessary vitamin D, produce endorphins, and help ease depression and anxiety.

Nature is the ultimate de-stressor.

43. Allow other to help you

When people are depressed, they can experience several difficult emotions, and it can be hard to accept help if you feel like you do not deserve it or are burdening someone.

We all need help occasionally, and it is okay to reach out for support. Allow others to help you cope with your depression. I promise they want to be there for you.

44. Opposite action

Opposite action is a popular DBT skill that requires you to do the opposite of what you want to do or what your emotions tell you to do.

For example, when you are depressed, you may feel the urge to isolate yourself in your room all day. When practicing the opposite action, you notice your desire to isolate and whether staying in your room all day would be effective. Once you recognize isolating all day would not be in your best interest, you engage in the opposite action skill by going outside for a walk or getting lunch with a friend.

This is a great way to rewire your brain and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

45. Netflix

Some days all you will want to do is cuddle up in your bed or couch and watch a good tv show or movie. That is okay.

Sometimes not doing anything is also a way of coping.

46. Light some candle

Candles have calming properties that can help you feel better. The soothing smells of candles can help you relax and create a calming environment.

This is a low-cost and easily accessible item making it a popular healthy coping skills for adults.

47. Watch the clouds

Have you ever watched the clouds with someone and tried to find shapes in the clouds? Not only does it help foster your imagination, but it is also an easy form of mindfulness connecting you to the present moment. 

48. Say yes to socializing

When you struggle with depression, it can be hard to socialize with others. As challenging as it may be, try not to withdraw from your life. Socializing can help boost your mood and allow you to talk to someone when you are feeling low.

49. Seek therapy

When your symptoms of depression start to impact your daily life significantly and your ability to function in your environment, consider seeking therapy. A therapist will help you with managing your symptoms of depression and how to cope.

50. Make a gratitude list

When you are depressed, write down things you are grateful for that give meaning to your life. Research shows that practicing gratitude helps with lessening depression.  

Start small by focusing on 3-5 things, people, or experiences that make you feel good and spend time on how that makes you feel.

51. Celebrate small wins

When we are depressed, completing simple tasks can be difficult and require significant effort. Unfortunately, you don't always recognize the effort you put into tasks, and your negative self-talk only worsens things.

Celebrating small wins is a great way to bring positivity by shifting your perspective. Start by identifying one task that seemed impossible to complete but you got through, and reward yourself.

52. Join a support group

If you are struggling with depression, you don't have to go through it alone. Instead, try joining a support group.

A support group allows you to share and listen to others going through similar struggles, making you feel less alone.

53. Practice positive self-talk

Self-talk is your internal dialogue. It can be a mix of both positive and negative thoughts. For example, when you struggle with depression, your self-talk might be more negative.

Positive self-talk can help you cope with the negative thoughts you experience when feeling depressed. By paying attention to your thought patterns, write down your negative thoughts, and challenge them to more balanced or helpful thoughts.

54. Get organized

When living with depression, focusing on things you can control is helpful.

Organizing your space is something that you can utilize as an outlet for your depression and can help increase positive emotions.

55. Maintain connections

Isolating & withdrawing yourself is a typical pattern when struggling with depression. As hard as it may seem, try to maintain your connections by relying on your support system and contacting friends/family.

56. Give yourself permission to cry

Crying is a good form of emotional release. So, permit yourself to cry instead of ignoring your emotions when they arise.

57. Talk to one person about your feelings

It can be challenging to talk about how you feel, let alone express how depression feels. When people struggle with depression, thinking about what others may think can be scary. But talking about your depression with your support system is the first step to improving.

Reach out to your friend or family member and share how you feel. I promise they won't see you as a burden.

58. Volunteer

Sharing your time with those in need can be a great way to feel accomplished and deal with negative thoughts.

You don't need to keep your volunteering opportunities limited to specific organizations but can instead choose any opportunities you would like.

59. Build a routine

It can be hard to do things you usually would have been able to do when struggling with depression. While it may feel like you don't control many things, you may control some.

Creating a daily routine with a few tasks can help you stay on track for the day and give you a sense of accomplishment.

60. Get enough sleep

Your sleep quality directly impacts your mood. If you are not sleeping enough, that further affects your depression and increases fatigue.

Talking to your doctor and therapist about your sleep and ways to improve your sleep hygiene is helpful.

Let's Recap.....

Learning to cope with your emotions effectively is a sign of emotional intelligence. Understanding and dealing with your feelings is important to handle stressful situations without getting too overwhelmed. 

These healthy coping skills will help you know yourself, get along with others, and handle challenging situations more constructively. Remember, healthy coping is the foundation of strong relationships with others and yourself.

What's your go-to healthy coping skill?

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