Anything can spiral someone into a state of distress, or a state of “anxiety or mental suffering.” For someone who doesn’t suffer from a mental illness, that something could be the loss of a loved on, a lost job, a divorce. For someone suffering with depression, an anxiety disorder, or other related disorders, something much smaller such as a bad grade could send them into distress.
So how do you cope with distress? The article, “8 ways to cope with distress” published on mymind.org, explains great, cost effective strategies that anybody of any socio-economic status can implement into their lives — I’ve summarized 4 of them below.
But first, the most important note: If you are experiencing prolonging distress, you should speak with a mental health professional. If someone you know is at risk of having a mental health emergency, please call 911 for immediate assistance.
Think about your favorite songs or movies. Something that makes your feel warm, cozy, and relaxed like a bubble bath. If it’s a sunny day outside, head to the park after work and soak in the environment. Sometimes treating yourself in the smallest way will make all the difference.
Listen, you’ve been here before and you had the strength to get passed it. This is what you should tell yourself in a state of distress — you had the strength yesterday, so you certainly have it today, and you’ll certainly have it tomorrow. You shouldn’t make a habit of looking to the past to feel better in the present, however, it can help when you’re in the “throws of distress.”
Focus, focus, focus. This is sort of like grounding yourself in the “safe physical sensation” tip, but this time it’s all mental. It’s a bit meditative — focus on counting to 10, recite lyrics to your favorite song/poem. Also, having a mantra allows you to can help you narrow your thoughts, thus helping you ground yourself in a state of distress.
We’ve talked about treating yourself as a method of calming down and getting your mind off of stressful thoughts. You can try treating someone else as well in conjunction with this strategy.
There are plenty of ways to do so: you could make your younger sibling a sandwich or take them to the park, but someone you care about a gift, or volunteer for an organization. You’ll make a world of difference in their lives, which will remind you that you have plenty to give.
These are some basic strategies to help untangle yourself out of distress — start implementing them in your life today!