2020 was a hard year for everyone, and now our winter blues is in full swing and a new semester has just begun. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, out of it, or just need a brain refresh, here are some tiny coping strategies that can make things a little easier. These are super subtle and quick, so you can even do them in class! (Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist and I don’t have any mental health training! These are just some strategies that were recommended by a therapist and have helped me)
- Box Breathing: When I feel my heart start to jump with anxiety, I like to use box breathing to sloooooow down. Inhale deeply and count slowly to 4. Hold your breath for another 4 counts, then slowly release for 4 counts, and hold your breath again 1…2…3…4… Repeat 4 times. I can actually feel my heart rate decrease when I do this!
- Sensory grounding: When you notice yourself zoning out, or feeling overwhelmed with thoughts, try grounding yourself. Where are you? What does the air feel like? Cold or too hot? How do your clothes feel against your skin, what about your feet on the floor? This can help you get out of your head and start to be present in the moment. You can also try the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. Identify 5 things you can see in your environment. 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Take a moment to process all the information you are gathering.
- Miniature journaling: Writing forces my brain to slow down. When I’m feeling super duper anxious or other BIG feelings, writing down what I’m feeling, why I feel that way, and what I can do helps to clear my head. Here’s an example of what I might write while in class: “I’m feeling overwhelmed, I have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. It makes me feel frustrated and anxious. I will plan out how and when I will get everything done. And I should plan time to have guilt-free relaxation time to re-set.” It sounds silly but I always feel better when I get my thoughts onto paper and have a plan!
I hope these teeny tiny coping mechanisms will help you with the stress of this semester. Remember to always seek out help from a professional for your mental health; it’s important, and you deserve to feel better!
Deep breaths- you can do this!
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Written by Lucie Sullivan on Feb 15, 2021