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Mental Health Awareness Week – Coping Strategies

17th May 2019

Today is Day 5 of Mental Health Awareness Week and our focus is on positive and negative coping strategies:  There are so many pressures we face in our lives and just the speed of life can feel like a pressure.

Many of us use habitual coping strategies to help us manage life and the pressures and stresses we face; sometimes we have a pattern of behaviour that has evolved over time that we may not think about consciously and revert to the same coping mechanisms each time, whether positive or negative.

Some negative coping strategies are: Excessive Alcohol, Smoking, Drugs, Gambling, Shopping Addiction, Uncontrolled Anger, Shouting, Self Harm, to name some of the more widely used strategies. A selection of positive coping strategies are; Exercise, Hobbies, Sport, Relaxation, Mindfulness, Yoga, Walking in nature, Talking, Socialising, Time with Friends, Time to Recharge.  You may also benefit from speaking with your workplace Employee Assistance Programme for support 24/7 or getting a referral to Occupational Health, there are also many voluntary organisations with help lines and excellent information on their websites.

We need to become conscious about how we cope and become aware of these habits and behaviours. We can then review these and ask ourselves whether we are using a positive or negative coping strategy.

Ask yourself, what would need to happen for me to increase my positive strategies? Then ask yourself, what would need to happen for me to reduce my negative strategies or what could I replace these negative strategies with?

Ultimately this is all within your control – become conscious of your habits, identify any need to change and then gradually make that change happen, we all have the capacity to do this, at least taking the first baby step towards this!

Perhaps the hardest part is reflecting on where we are at now, and then making the decision to change.   Once you have done that you may want to think how you are going to maintain the positive change and possibly include others to support you in that.