Coping Strategies

  1. Work Off Your Anger. If anger seems to be a more generalized way of behavior, remember that while it may give you a temporary sense of right-ness (righteousness) or power, you will often feel foolish later.  If you feel like lashing out at someone who has provoked you, wait 24 hours.  Meanwhile, do something positive or constructive with the pent-up energy.
  2. Talk Out Your Worries. It helps to share concerns with someone you trust and respect.  Sometimes another person can help you see things from a different perspective or provide a mirror for your feelings.  If you become preoccupied with emotional difficulties, it may be wise to seek out a professional listener, who may have a more objective or informed perspective on the issue.  This is not admitting defeat, but is acknowledging that you are normal, and that you are intelligent enough to know when to ask for help.
  3. Learn to Accept What You Cannot Change. If a problem is beyond your control at the time, work to accept it until it can be changed.  Wheel-spinning doesn't get you anywhere and wears you out in the process.
  4. Avoid Self-Medication. While many chemicals (alcohol, marijuana, other drugs and medications, cigarettes, caffeine, food, etc.) are able to mask symptoms of stress, they do not help you adjust to the stress or find a lasting solution.  Excessive use can actually decrease your ability to cope with even "normal" levels of stress by preventing you from practicing more positive coping skills and eventually losing other coping skills altogether.  Self-medication is a form of avoidance that can be extremely self-destructive.
  5. Give People a Break (Yourself and Others). When people are under emotional tension, they tend to concentrate more on themselves.  They may feel they have to "get out there first," trying to edge out the other person no matter what.  If enough of us feel that way -- and many of us do -- then everything becomes a race where someone is likely to get hurt, either physically or emotionally/mentally.  When you give someone a break (even when that someone is you), you often make things easier for yourself.  Anger is usually an automatic response to feeling threatened.
  6. Make Yourself Available. Many people have the sense that they are being left out, neglected, rejected, etc., when it is often the case that the other person is waiting for you to make the first move.  If you always wait to be asked, you may never be asked.  Try taking some small steps toward others -- let them know you are interested in doing something with them.  This may be just the cue they're waiting for.  Take care to not go too far in the other direction and push yourself onto others, as this will often lead them to run away.  Learn how to balance. . .give and take. . .advance and hold still.
  7. Choose Your Battles. If you find yourself getting into frequent arguments with others and feeling obstinate and defiant, your frustrated inner child may be showing.  Stand your ground on what you know is right, but do so calmly, making allowance for the possibility that you may be wrong, or that the other may have an equally valid point.  In most cases there is no right or wrong, but simply varying perspectives with varying strengths and weaknesses.  Decide what things are really worth the struggle and be willing to let go of things that aren't that important.  Be willing to be mistaken, charitable, or negotiable.  Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?  Compromise is an art that, without selling your soul, will help you make and maintain positive, healthy relationships.
  8. Ease Up on Criticism. Some people expect too much of others or themselves, and then feel frustrated, let down, disappointed, even trapped, when someone doesn't seem to measure up.  Remember that people who are often disappointed in others may really be disappointed in themselves.  Be willing to focus on the strengths -- whether yours or someone else's -- as well as being aware of areas that may present some problems.  Learn to use limitations as strengths and see this in others.
  9. One Thing at a Time. For those under stress, an ordinary workload may seem overwhelming.  While it may seem too great a load to tackle (thus tempting you to put it off), this is really only a temporary condition and you can work your way out of it eventually, one step at a time.  Don't use the "shark" approach unless you want indigestion. . .nibble it to death instead.
  10. The "Ziggy" Principle. Ziggy climbed to the top of a mountain to see the guru.  When he arrived, he asked the guru, "What is the secret of a happy life?"  The guru answered, "My son, here is the secret to a happy life:  Don't get personally involved with your own life."  In other words, don't take yourself too seriously.