By: Taylor Pemberton

Living with a mental health disorder can be difficult, frustrating, and exhausting. Research shows that medication and psychotherapy treatments can be very helpful, however, some individuals may need more day-to-day supports to feel more like oneself. Finding coping mechanisms may be time consuming but, with patience, also rewarding. 

Here are a few self-care supports and coping skills that may be helpful to add to your toolbox:

  1. Deep Breathing. Although breathing may sound cliché, it is one of the best skills to utilize in times of anxiety and panic. The repetition of the breathing helps send signals to the brain that everything will be okay by slowing down the heart rate. (NAMI.org)

-Some examples of this include the 5 3 7 method which suggests breathing in for 5 seconds, holding the breath for 3 seconds, and releasing the breath for 7 seconds. 

  1. Opposite-to-Emotion Thinking. This technique is exactly how it sounds…act in the opposite way that your emotions are telling you to act. 

-If your brain is upset and you feel the urge to isolate, then the opposite of this is to interact with others or be around others. If you are feeling anxious, combat the nervousness with calming techniques such as meditation or listening to music. If you are feeling manic, turn to something that can help stabilize you like daily routines. (NAMI.org)

  1. The 5 Senses. This is an effective way to utilize the physical space around you to ground you through times of high emotion or crisis. (NAMI.org)

-Think of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste…or any variation of the 5!

  1. Get Active! Get physical, change up your environment, meditate, engage in your favorite activities, socialize with friends/family, etc. (Med.upenn.edu)
  1. Engage in Self-Care Strategies. Keep a journal, read a new book, go for a walk, gardening, DIY projects, art creations, take a nap, go for a relaxing bath, listen to music, etc. Self-care is most important when it is personalized to you! (Med.upenn.edu)

Resources

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/january-2019/self-help-techniques-for-coping-with-mental-illness

https://www.med.upenn.edu/bbl/assets/user-content/Strategies%20for%20Coping%20and%20Self-Care_Schmidt_PERC_15Jun2020.pdf

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