Five Coping Strategies for Mental Health

I have often found many lauded coping strategies, to be non-beneficial for myself and sometimes, forced techniques having totally the opposite effect.

These strategies often ignore the underlying personality, preferences and talents of the sufferer, some examples are: ‘Exercise for all’ ‘Painting classes’ ‘Relaxation’ etc.

I am not decrying all of these strategies, however to be forced and coerced into making artificial paper flowers as a ‘relaxation’ therapy, when ‘climbing the walls’ was certainly very unhelpful. I also found tweety birds and whale music totally irritating and boring in various degrees,  much to the chagrin of said professionals.

When a much lauded therapy does not appeal or work for one client, said client is often ridiculed or outcast, yet again, as ‘failing to engage’.  Never helpful and often totally untrue. [ed: I also think the term treatment-resistant denies blame on the professional in question]

I enjoy the countryside, music of various kinds, reading, intelligent conversation, badminton, drawing, baking etc. From this list, you may ascertain that I have more of an artistic leaning in my pleasurable pursuits.

However, I also enjoy hockey, some board games, cryptic crosswords and any sport that is quite quick which keeps my interest. Cricket? Football? Snooker? F1? One big noisy bore, for myself.

For another mental health sufferer, mathematical puzzles, astronomy,  loud F1, Football, Chess etc may prove to be great coping strategies.

Personality and interests are of paramount importance when choosing an individual coping strategy. 

When I hit a low point, I speak to few people. I trust a few close friends who know me well enough to understand my withdrawal l. Need for peace is another of my coping strategies, rather than a gaggle of well meaning mates, discussing said problem and offering many of their well intentioned solutions.

I prefer time by myself, time to be kind to me, to heal, when my batteries are low. I will often take myself off into the countryside with few people around, simply to partake in the surrounding beauty, the fewer people the better.

This suits myself,  it will not suit all. I believe there is no ‘one size fits all remedy’.

Here are my top five coping strategies:

1. Withdrawal from too many people, with too many demands.
2.  Peaceful countryside situations, even if only for an hour. No telephone or company.
3.  Music, whichever suits my mood at the time.
4. Positive self-talk, must be realistic.
5. Re-training myself to understand, yet again, that I have expended too much energy on people or things that have exhausted me, taking time to do things that please me.

As a well trained people-pleaser, the habit of putting myself last is well ingrained. It’s easy to fall back into bad habits and leave myself feeling drained.

The above list is tailored for to me. No-one should be chastised for their individual coping strategies. Some people find meditation, yoga, relaxation tapes, energetic sports helpful which is great. Whatever suits the individual and is not harmful to themselves or others should be encouraged. We are all individuals after all.

What are your coping strategies?

Copyright JP & MEN HEAL 2015

2 thoughts on “Five Coping Strategies for Mental Health

  • June 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

    A strategy i have used many times is to imagine my pain is a clay pigeon. I keep imagining these pigeons being released and i quietly make my lips go “poom…poOM…pOOM…POOM!!!!” like i am firing a gun. Each poom becomes a little louder and quicker than the previous one as if i am getting better at shooting down my pain or, controlling/handling it. At some point i get distracted and i start to think of other things.


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