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Mental Health Coping Strategies...

Mental Health Coping Strategies...

Maintaining mental health and resilience in the face of life’s challenges requires effective mental health and stress management. Coping strategies enhance our ability to respond to various situations while maintaining emotional balance. Stress takes many forms, manifesting as emotions like anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration. Employing effective coping strategies for these feelings is vital to preserving mental health and emotional well-being, especially when life’s inevitable stressors trigger them. Research indicates that developing cognitive, emotional, social, physical, and lifestyle skills, including mindfulness, fosters resilience, enabling us to cope with both minor and significant life hurdles.

For instance, strategies such as reframing negative thoughts, journaling to process emotions, seeking empathetic support, engaging in self-care routines, and allocating time for enjoyment can significantly enhance our capacity to handle stressful situations. Tailoring coping strategies to specifically address symptoms associated with anxiety, sadness, anger, or frustration can effectively diminish these negative emotions. Filling our mental toolbox with evidence-based positive coping skills provides us with the flexibility needed to navigate life’s ups and downs.

It’s also important to remember that life has its ups and downs; we can’t do anything to completely evade them. However, the way we perceive and react to stressful events, using techniques to cope, plays a crucial role in determining their long-term impact. Developing coping strategies can mitigate the adverse effects of life’s inevitable challenges. These positive coping skills aid in effective problem-solving, releasing pent-up emotions, restoring balance, and continuing our journey with determination and grace. Please do not hesitate to contact our support line at 0808 115 1505 if you believe you need mental health support or if you know someone who does.

What Are Examples of Healthy Coping Strategies and Skills?

Coping with stress refers to the thoughts, behaviours, and actions we engage in to modulate our responses to external stressors or internal discomfort. Psychologists differentiate between problem-focused coping styles that target the root cause and emotion-focused coping styles that regulate difficult feelings about stress.

Adaptively coping with stress well involves a multipronged approach; rarely does a single coping style suffice long-term. Combining coping mechanisms that address problematic issues head-on, dissipate turbulent emotions, reduce negative emotions, bolster social connections, reduce bodily tension, and restore health behaviours proves most effective for resilience.

  • Healthy cognitive coping – Challenging automatic negative thoughts, positive reframing issues, goal setting, planning action steps, and accessing resourcefulness
  • Social coping – Seeking empathetic support, validation, and companionship during struggle
  • Emotional coping – Allowing ourselves to fully experience and release feelings through rituals, creative arts, music, and writing
  • Physical coping – Exercise, yoga, mediation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Positive lifestyle coping – Maintaining self-care routines like healthy sleep, diet, and enjoyable hobbies that anchor wellbeing

What Are Some Examples of Unhealthy Coping Strategies?

Unhealthy coping mechanisms may temporarily reduce unpleasant emotions but ultimately worsen distress and dysfunction if relied upon.

  • Unhealthy cognitive coping – Excessive worry, pessimism, rumination without resolution, inflexibility, and denial
  • Unhealthy behavioural coping – Substance abuse, aggression, social withdrawal and isolation, risk-taking, self-harm
  • Unhealthy lifestyle coping – Poor sleep habits, inactivity, unbalanced nutrition, chaotic routines

When Should Someone Seek Professional Support for Mental Health?

While developing personal coping strategies builds capacity to handle setbacks, sometimes issues escalate beyond typical adaptations. If you notice emotional suffering, unhealthy behaviour changes persisting for over 2 weeks, or an inability to carry out responsibilities, speak to a mental health professional.

Signs to seek support:

  • Panic, raging anxiety, and profound helplessness/hopelessness
  • Traumatic event exposure – grief, accidents, violence
  • Thoughts of self-harming
  • Marked sleep/appetite changes
  • Difficulty concentrating and impeding performance
  • Isolating from friends and favourite activities
  • Chronic pain, headaches, and digestive issues from stress
  • Increased substance use

If you feel like you need support with mental health or know someone who does, please do not hesitate to contact our support line on 0808 115 1505.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgement and can help individuals manage stress, anxiety, and depression. There are many resources available online and in-person to help individuals learn mindfulness techniques.


Regular exercise can be a powerful tool for managing the symptoms of mental health conditions. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood, reduce stress, and boost energy levels. Please check with your GP before undertaking any exercise.

Creative expression

Engaging in creative activities such as painting, drawing, or writing can provide an outlet for emotions and help individuals process difficult feelings.


Writing in a journal can help individuals process their thoughts and emotions and identify patterns and triggers that may be contributing to their symptoms.

Relaxation techniques

Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help individuals reduce anxiety and manage stress.

Social support

Spending time with loved ones, joining a support group, or talking to a therapist can provide a valuable source of emotional support for individuals with mental health conditions.


Developing a personalised self-care routine that includes activities such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practising yoga can help individuals prioritise their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Safety plan

One of the most important and helpful things you can do for yourself is to prepare a safety plan, which you can use to help yourself on a daily basis, or just through the really difficult times. You can include information such as phone numbers for your GPs and others you are able to talk to as well as things you can do that help to distract your mind. It is your personal safety plan and you can fill in whatever details are helpful for you, things that can help to keep you safe.