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Healthy Coping Strategies

This page is devoted to providing support by offering some suggestions for coping with stress. "Coping strategies," or "coping mechanisms" are helpful skills and devices that we can use to ease our anxiety in the moment. They may seem simple and obvious but many people find them very helpful.  

First, remember that feelings are not facts. Therefore the best way to handle this is to understand that emotions are temporary and if we just wait a while we can get past whatever it is we are upset about.  It's important not to act on the emotions and make things worse.  Coping Strategies are designed to help us get past the emotions and not make them worse.

At the bottom of this page are some links to websites that may provide additional strategies and links to articles with some good strategies. 

Arts & Carfts and Drawing to Relax

What would a list of coping mechanisms be without art? This is probably the oldest and most obvious coping mechanism of them all. Many artists are known for being eccentric and perhaps moody. It may be that the great artists found their peace of mind in doing their art. "But I'm no good at art!" Doesn't matter. When using art for coping with fluctuating mood, it's "process before the product," that's important. 

Going for a Walk

Sometimes just getting outside in the fresh air can give us the change we need, no matter how brief or simple it is. Check out this video, "23 and a half hours" by Dr. Mike Evans about how important walking can be for your health.


The relationship between exercise and improving one's mood or mental health is well known and accepted. This can include cardio like running, swimming, or a more intense workout. Be sure to consult a professional when taking on rigorous exercise. See some of the articles below.

Joining a local gym is a good way to motivate yourself to stick to an exercise routine:

Cooking to Relax

Cooking can be very therapeutic. Hopefully, it's a healthy meal, but the act of cooking a meal is goal oriented and peaceful. It's easier to escape negative or compulsive thoughts by having a task to complete. The great thing about cooking is the reward at the end of the process- the meal!  Don't forget the cleaning. Doing the dishes is one of Thich Nhat Han's famous mindful exercises. 

Reading to Relax

Lose yourself in a novel or an interesting article. Sometimes during periods of stress people can find it difficult to concentrate enough to read, however, it's important to try.  If what you're reading is not grabbing your attention, switch to something else. Maybe a magazine or newspaper article. Be careful when reading the news. It's frustratingly negative and may not be the best way to quench negative thoughts.

Not sure what to read? Jump over to See what's popular right now. 

Read a Biography

I also often recommend to people who dealing with some difficult emotions to read biographies.  Think of someone in history or who's still alive who you look up to or admire. Find a biography on their life.  It may be helpful to see some of the struggles they've gone through in their life.

Listenign to Music

This is a classic coping mechanism, especially for teenagers.  It's ok to put some headphones on and tune out the rest of the world for a little while.  Sad songs when you're down, and angry songs when you're angry may be counterproductive. But if that's what you need right then, so be it. Listen to the music and wait till you feel a shift in your mood. Then switch it to something more up beat.

Finding music to listen to is no problem at all. iTunes, Pandora, Youtube, Spotify.

Going to a Movie

Like listening to music, movies can bring out a specific mood associated with the movie. 

See what's out now at

Here's a critic that I like a lot to help find an appropriate movie.

Doing a Puzzle on your tablet or iphone

One of my favorite things about my iPhone and iPad are the endless puzzles that I have in my pocket ready to serve as a way to cope with negative emotions.  Much like ABC Mindfulness Playing with puzzles on our smart phones can distract from negative thoughts. The following is a list of the soothing puzzle apps that can help.

Cleaning or Reducing Clutter

This is a common one that many people do anyway. Cleaning is not only a classic mindful activity, but it accomplishes something while you do it.  A cleaner environment is always more healthy. Refer to my page in Mindfulness for Thic Nhat Han’s famous quotes on doing the dishes.

One might use Feng Shui which is a method of keeping a clean and relaxing home. The literal translation is “wind and water” and is the ancient Chinese art of placement. 

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