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💛 30 Quick tips to cope 💛
💡 30 stress-busting ideas that take less than 30 minutes.
Hi there, how are you doing today?
I hope you’re taking good care of yourself.
In times of crisis, it’s important for all of us to help where we can, and bear witness where we can’t. It’s also important to continue caring for ourselves and for each other.
When the world is frightening, we often resort to familiar coping mechanisms which can be unhealthy and unsustainable – staying up late doom-scrolling on our phones, stress eating, stress drinking, bingeing TV, take your pick.
Or take your pick instead from this list of 30 ideas for coping when you’re feeling overwhelmed. These are my own tried and tested ways to manage anxious feelings when they arise.
Everybody is different and what works for one person might not work for another. And what works at one time might not work at another. That’s why I keep this huge list of options! I hope even a couple of these ideas resonate with you and might help you to cope.
And, as always, I’d love to hear your suggestions. You can reply to me privately by emailing email@example.com or reply to this post by tapping the 💬 icon below.
Take a break from information overload
1. 📺 Limit the time you spend watching the News
If you find that you’re worrying a lot about the News, it’s healthy and appropriate to limit how much you’re watching. Doom-scrolling dubious reports on social media all day long – or watching the same TV reports on repeat – doesn’t make you more informed or more compassionate.
When it comes to how we engage with the News, most mental health professionals agree: The healthiest approach is to check a reliable news source a couple of times a day to stay informed, then step away.
🎧 The Blindboy Podcast had a really helpful episode last week about managing your mental health when the News is overwhelming.
2. 🔌 Go offline
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, carve out some ‘me time’ to take a break from the internet’s endless notifications and interruptions. Put your phone on flight mode, disconnect from wifi, or leave it in a drawer. Or if like me, you can’t stick to your best intentions, try the Freedom app. It allows you to select the phone functions, apps, or websites you want to block, and when you want to block them.
3. 💙💛 Take action
It’s easy to feel helpless and upset watching the News in times of crisis. Try to focus instead on what you can control and ways you can help – like donating, protesting, or attending a fundraiser. Search for local fundraising events in support of Ukrainian charities by entering ‘Ukraine’ as a search term on Eventbrite.
Deep breathing has been proven to reduce anxiety and improve emotional regulation, so it’s worth trying out some breathing exercises and choosing your personal go-to.
Here are some easy-to-remember, even-when-you’re-freaking-out breathing exercises that I like.
4. 😮💨 4-7-8 Breathing
The 4-7-8 breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety. It involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
Via Medical News Today:
Empty the lungs of air.
Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds.
Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds.
Repeat the cycle up to 4 times.
5. 🌬️ Resonance breathing
Resonance breathing can help you feel relaxed and less anxious. It involves lying down, inhaling for 6 seconds, and exhaling for 6 seconds.
Via Very Well Mind:
Lie down and close your eyes.
Gently breathe in through your nose, mouth closed, for a count of six seconds. Don't fill your lungs too full of air.
Exhale for six seconds, allowing your breath to leave your body slowly and gently without forcing it.
Continue for up to 10 minutes.
Take a few additional minutes to be still and focus on how your body feels.
6. 🧘 Mindfulness meditation breathing
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and bringing your attention to the present.
I often just search “Guided mindfulness meditation 10 minutes” or “Guided mindfulness meditation 5 minutes” on YouTube and hope for the best!
Grounding is a meditative practice that draws your attention to the present moment, usually by focusing your attention on one or more of your five senses and the physical world around you. Grounding exercises can be particularly helpful if you’re feeling anxious, stressed out, distracted, or overwhelmed.
7. 🌎 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
Engage your senses with the 5-4-3-2-1 technique and list in your mind the things you notice around you:
👁️ 5 things you can see
🖐️ 4 things you can feel
👂 3 things you can hear
👃 2 things you can smell
👄 1 thing you can taste
8. 🎲 ‘All you have to do is make a game of it’
Ask yourself a question that has several answers:
Recite the phonetic alphabet
Name as many European countries as you can
Name as many US states as you can
Practice simple times tables
The idea is to focus your mind on something other than anxiety.
9. ⚓ Use an Anchoring Phrase
Choose a sentence or phrase that you can say internally throughout the day whenever you notice yourself feeling tense or anxious, or when you’re facing a challenging situation. You can place your hand on your heart when you say it.
“I’m doing my best, and that’s enough.”
“This is difficult, but I’ll get through it.”
“How can I meet this challenge with loving kindness?”
Your Anchoring Phrase should sound like the sort of words of encouragement you would say to a friend.
10. 🎵 Listen to music
Put on a favourite song and listen closely as if it were the first time you’d heard it.
Connect with loved ones
It's easy to get lost in our own heads in turbulent times. Reach out to loved ones instead. As author and psychotherapist Lisa Olivera wrote last week, “May we hold ourselves and those we love close, knowing it is all that really matters.”
11. 🤗 Give or get a hug
12. 📱 Phone a friend
13. ☕ Meet a friend for coffee
14. 🚶🏿♀️🚶🏽 Go for a walk with a friend
15. 💌 Send a card in the post
Move your body
Ok, so first of all, you’re going to need to super-quickly unlearn any beliefs you might have about exercise being linked to weight-loss or a way to punish your body for not meeting some ideal standard. I’ll wait... Done? Great! Phew, what a relief to finally ditch that old thinking, right?
Because once we untangle exercise from its patriarchal parameters, we can reclaim its simple joy. As an expression of vitality, as a way of releasing physical tension, and as a way of producing feel-good hormones like endorphins.
16. ⛸️ Jump rope, hula-hoop, trampoline, roller skate…
Whatever movement you did for play as a kid, make it part of your workout as an adult.
17. 🌳 Walk in nature
18. 🧘🏻♂️ Do a quick yoga session with Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye
It’s widely agreed that asking someone who’s struggling with their mental or physical health, “Have you tried doing yoga?” is second only to asking, “Have you tried not being sick?” in terms of its helpfulness. But I’d argue that “Have you tried doing yoga with JVN? It’s free, only takes five minutes, and he’s a gift to humanity,” is a different proposition altogether. If there’s a yoga instructor out there who’s as charismatic and delightful as Jonathan Van Ness, I’d like to know. (Really! Shoot me an email if you have recommendations.)
Download the FitOn app for free to access JVN’s exclusive beginner yoga videos.
19. 🚲 Bike ride
20. 🏃 Run
Be kind to yourself
“When you treat yourself kindly, you exude kindness to everyone around you,” psychologist Donatella Poceddu of The Mindful Body told us last week at her mindful journaling session in aid of Save the Children Ukraine.
Some of the below suggestions might sound corny or obvious, and you might prefer me to include on this list, “Drink a bottle of wine and spend a few hours scrolling Twitter,” but I’m sorry! Being gentle with ourselves and doing corny stuff like having a little tea ritual genuinely relieves stress and makes us feel better. Whereas drinking alcohol and zoning out on devices provides only a temporary distraction from stress and ultimately makes us feel worse.
21. 🔇 Find a quiet place to be still and collect your thoughts for a few minutes
22. ☕ Make a cup of tea, sit down and enjoy it without any distractions
23. 😴 Take a nap
24. 📝 Journal
25. 📺 Watch an episode of a feel-good TV show
Ted Lasso, Schitt’s Creek, and The Great British Bake-Off do it for me.
26. 📚 Read for pleasure
27. 🧁 Spend time practicing a relaxing hobby
Gardening, knitting, jigsaw puzzling, cooking, baking… Anything you could tag #CottageCore, basically.
28. 🎨 Express yourself creatively
Writing, painting, drawing, sculpting, collaging, singing, playing an instrument, etc.
29. 🌺 Have a little ‘home spa’ moment
For me, this looks like digging out every beauty sample and lotiony gift I’ve received in the last 10 years, lining them up on my dressing table, and just lashing them all on. Oh, and I light a nice candle.
30. 💆 Book something therapeutic to look forward to
‘Therapeutic’ is open to your own interpretation. For me, it could be a therapy session, a massage, an art workshop, or a cinema trip.
… And that's it! That's my list of 30 quick tips to cope. Well done if you made it to the end!