Coping Skills to Manage Stress

Coping SkillsCoping skills help us deal with the stress of life. It is both a motivator to get things done and a drain on our heart and spirit. We learn coping skills as early as infancy. Babies learn how to get attention or calm themselves? Throughout life we learn ways to manage our stress. Coping skills determine how well we cope with the underlying tasks and challenges. Do we overeat, oversleep and take drugs and alcohol? Or do we seek advice, weigh options and  try a few solutions? It issually a combination of all of the above.

Caregiving is a most stressful “job” There are deadlines, unrealistic expectations and a human life is in the balance. On top of that, it is performed without pay. Whether caring for a baby, child, adult or parent, learning about basic coping skills can help manage many situations which come up and result in both parties having a feeling of well-being. Being the person cared for, especially an adult can be difficult. There is likely a physical or cognitive reason why the care is needed and this is just a part of the psychological aspects of needing help.

Types of Coping Skills

Positive Reframing – problem or challenge?

Humor is a good way to diffuse a situation, look at the brighter side. Watch funny videos or sitcoms…. laughter releases endorphins

Seek support – emotional support is very helpful, whether from family, friends, and co-workers or as needed, professional help – counseling, legal, financial, Geriatric Care Managers etc.

Problem solving – assessing the situation and coming up with possible solutions

Relaxation/Calming – whether rest, listening music, meditation, Tai Chi or Yoga — find your Zen

Physical Regeneration – regular exercise, walking, swimming, taking a class at the gym or YMCA

Adjust expectations – reason needs to prevail. Sure you can handle things by yourself, but for how long without it taking a toll?

Denial and Avoidance are normal defense mechanisms but at some point Reality bites back

Self-blame and internalizing problems are counter-productive as they lead to lower self-esteem and depression

Venting – is a great way to externalize expression. Speak your mind to a friend or other trusted person/professional

Play more – games, sports, an instrument – let fun into your life, even a bit

Eat a healthy snack

Relax your muscles, imagine positive outcomes – image what you want… it works for pro athletes

Find what works for you and explore other options. Share the task. Either “deputize” someone or hire help, even temporarily to give yourself some respite relief.

Learn which coping skills get you the mastery you need to productively manage stress in a healthier manner.