5 Top Coping Mechanisms for Mental Health

I decided to put together a little list that I follow when I feel myself falling back into unhealthy patterns. Falling back into these thoughts and actions are bound to happen after such a long past, but, they can be avoided through a few simple practices.

1. UNDERSTAND AND RESPOND TO YOUR INNER VOICE

Be aware and give attention to what your criticizing yourself of, or what is slowly starting to bother you again. Based on these thoughts, recognize why they are coming back. In relation to eating disorders, usually thoughts of restricting come first, either when we feel bloated or our reflection in the mirror one day suddenly draws us back.

Question how these thoughts make you feel. Do you feel a sense of urge to follow them, or does it make you uncomfortable to fall back? When I get into this state, I find it easier to avoid my inner voice because it reminds me how obscure my actions and thoughts were, and how I was missing out on so much in life. Restricting myself from not only food, but, from going out with friends, family and worrying about every little situation that I could possibly end up in.

Based on how you understand what your inner voice is telling you, and comparing it to how you felt previously, you will be able to respond appropriately and let the thought pass on.

2. CREATE A SELF-MOTTO

Whether that be a quote you abide too or a single word. Make sure it is meaningful enough that when you wake up each day it will carry you through. Or, even simply telling yourself that ‘today is going to be great’.

3. ALWAYS FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES

Whether you had a bad day at work, or felt that your workout was poorly done, focus on the positive events that happened in these situations, and what you can make of it. Bad day at work? That’s okay, you made money and have the opportunity to work. Bad workout? You made the time and effort to go to the gym and exercise.

4. SEEK HELP

If you find that your having an extremely hard time avoiding any thoughts or actions that you previously followed, and begin to make it into an unhealthy routine again, consider talking to someone. Try your friends or family first as a primary support system. If that doesn’t go as well as it should, contact your doctor or previous clinics you may have been ascribed to originally.

5. WRITE IT DOWN OR MEDITATE

Writing your emotions, thoughts and feelings in a small notebook really helps to release them. I personally find that when I am angry, and I write down exactly how I feel and how I want to act, that my stress towards it weakens. On top of this, I am able to go back and read it later on so that I can give my attention to it and focus on making it better – or know how I handled it at another time.

Competing thoughts can come into play as well. During an eating disorder you focus a lot on how a meal is going to affect your body; ‘will I gain fat?’. Take this misperception and give direction to it. This ties into the first point I addressed – be aware of what your thinking and be realistic.

ULTIMATELY… we eventually use our coping mechanisms to live in the real world. After going through a time with destructive moments to a time of concentrating on developing our well-being, we are now thrown into temptations and stressors. Find what well-being practices suit you best and carry those with you for life.