10 Coping Skills To Help You Manage Life’s Stressors

10 Coping Skills To Help You Manage Life’s Stressors

One of the first things I talk with my clients about in my private practice is healthy coping skills because they are the foundation to leading a successful life. Coping skills are the methods a person utilizes to deal with life’s stressors and that is why they are so important. Without coping skills we would not be able to handle all of the curveballs that life throws our way. We would most likely be a mess of emotions with low self-esteem — and who wants that!? In order to make progress on your goals, therapeutic or otherwise, it is important to have a foundation of a range of healthy coping skills you can use in your day-to-day life.

The Good News…

The good news is you already have some coping skills in your toolbox! Think back to the last time you were stressed out – what did you do? Whatever it was, that was a coping skill!

…And The Bad

However, coping skills are not always healthy. There are some coping skills that are just flat-out unhealthy, such as smoking cigarettes, which is bad for your health, and then there are some coping skills that can be unhealthy if used too often, such as showering, which is unhealthy for your skin and your hair.

So, what are some healthy coping skills that you can use?

1. Talk With Someone You Trust

I know what you’re thinking, “Really!?  A mental health therapist is encouraging me to talk it out? How original!” I know, I know! But, trust me, it works! Sometimes the act of just telling someone else or just saying it out loud can really help you deal with how you are feeling and reduce your stress and anxiety. Other times you may want advice, you may need to bounce ideas off of someone, or you may need to think things through out loud. Further, there are times when you need to hear that what you’re going through is normal and/or fixable. Whatever the case, talking to someone you trust is an excellent option.

2. Take A Break

It is OK to need a break from the situation you are facing! Sometimes you need space to calm down or clear your head. Choose a timeframe to take a break for and then come back to the issue later. For smaller situations a few minutes may be appropriate and for larger situations you may need to take more time. Just make sure you come back to the issue later on.

3. Listen To Music

Music has a tendency to lift our spirits and make us feel better. Next time you are struggling, put on your favorite song and lose yourself in it. Bonus points are awarded if you sing and/or dance along!

4. Go For A Walk/Jog/Run

No matter your fitness level, get outside and walk, jog, or run around the block! Take in the scenery and get some fresh air.

5. Journal

Similar to talking to someone you trust, journaling is another great outlet. You can journal about what it is that you are going through. Or, you can journal about other topics. Journaling can help in a variety of ways with a variety of emotions. If you are confused about a situation, journaling can help you organize your thoughts. If you are overwhelmed with things to do, journaling can help you organize your tasks. And, if you are feeling very strong emotions, journaling can help you let them out through writing.

6. Clean Something/Organize Something

If you are naturally a person who enjoys cleaning and/or organizing, this coping skill will be a great fit for you. On the other hand, if cleaning or organizing is on your list of things to do, using it as a coping skill will really help emotionally as you will be tackling two things at once – managing your emotions and getting something on your list completed!

7. Plan Your Dream _______________

I am a huge fan of vision boards and things similar in nature, like planning for your dreams. Whether it is your dream vacation, dream home, or dream job, taking some time to plan out all of the details can be a great coping skill. This coping skill does not stop at filling in the blank. Really take the time to plan out every detail of your dream.

8. Make A Vision Board

I told you I was a huge fan of vision boards! Create a board representing your goal where you display pictures, quotes, and anything else that is related to your goal and is inspiring to you. Doing this will increase your focus on your goal and will help you achieve it, while also helping you to get your mind off of your stressful emotions.

9. Make A List Of Things You Like About Your Life

Literally sit down and write out a list of things you like about your life. The list can be short or it can be long, but write it! Focusing on the positives in our life can help when we are struggling emotionally as it shifts our focus from negative with no sight of success to positive with success within reach.

10. Do A Random Act Of Kindness

This is a win-win. Not only do you get to brighten someone else’s day, but you will feel better about yourself when you help someone else – even if you don’t see the results, for example if you pay for the person in line behind you at the drive-thru. Why not make the world a better place while cheering yourself up? You never know, you might even cause a chain reaction!

What are your favorite go-to coping skills that you use in your daily life?

This list is not all-inclusive – there are many more great coping skills out there and I want to hear about them!

My Financial Journey

My Financial Journey:
From $90,000 In Debt to DEBT FREE in Two Years

It was 2013 and I was graduating from my graduate degree program in Social Work, which I started immediately following my undergraduate degree program in Psychology and Communication, and I was in debt – upwards of $90,000 to be more exact. I was so excited to begin my ‘adult life,’ but I was also fearful of my future because of all of the student loan debt weighing me down.

I became steadfast in my goal to become debt free as soon as I possibly could. I read every financial management book I could get my hands on and scoured the web for financial advice. After what felt like endless research, I took the best of what I had learned and applied this newfound knowledge to my financial situation.  One of the many things I did was to incorporate Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” into my plan, and his advice changed my life.

Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps

From Baby Steps to Debt ELIMINATION

Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps gave me a guideline of where to start, which was particularly helpful considering I was tackling such a large amount of debt – $90,000! When I began my journey to debt freedom I already had over $1,000 sitting in my savings account so Baby Step 1: One Thousand In An Emergency Fund was complete! I then began Baby Step 2: Pay Off All Debt (except for a mortgage). This step was not as easily tackled!

I started Baby Step 2 by listing  my debts from smallest amount owed to largest amount owed and then began paying off  my debts one by one using the “snowball method.” I took all the money in my savings account over the $1,000 emergency fund balance and put it toward my student loans. I began budgeting and created a plan to pay off my loans. I sent extra payments whenever I could.

I was motivated to pay off my student loans as fast as possible and therefore I made some sacrifices. I lived at home with my mother rent free (thanks, mom!), instead of living in an apartment with friends. I worked multiple jobs aside from my full-time job: I babysat and worked as an in-home mental health therapist, jobs I still continue today! And, I cut some of my spending: I didn’t go on any vacations – big or small, dined out less often, and cut out little expenses here and there that were small, but would add up fast, such as Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffees – if you know me, you know these are my favorite, whether it is warm or cold outside! I also took fewer trips to Target because everyone knows you can’t leave Target without spending upwards of $100 while still forgetting to buy the one thing you walked in there for (I still love you Target!).

It was important to me in my debt free journey not to cut out all of the fun. Therefore, I personally chose which sacrifices I was willing to make, such as cutting out random iced coffee breaks, and which things I wasn’t willing to budge on, such as  occasional date night dinner dates.

Fast forward two years and in 2015 my student loans were PAID IN FULL. I can’t even begin to explain how great it felt to press ‘send’ on my final payment! I was DEBT FREE only two years after graduation! All of my efforts had paid off!

My 12 Student Loans Reflecting That They Are PAID IN FULL!

Why Debt Reduction Is Worth The Hard Work

The road to debt freedom isn’t easy. The journey can seem overwhelming, confusing, and even scary. I get it – I’ve been there! There are no ‘quick fixes.’ Getting out of debt takes a lot of hard work, patience, and the ability to keep pushing yourself forward.

In my journey to debt freedom I had phrases that I would repeat to myself for motivation, such as: “Just keep swimming!” and “What would Dave Ramsey say?” This second phrase was particularly important for me because even with all of my endless research there was hardly any advice out there for people just starting out in their adult life with debt. So much of the advice out there is for more established people with mortgage, wedding, childcare, consumer, and student loan debt. I needed advice tailored to someone who had debt they wanted to get rid of, but was just starting out in the working world – all of those milestones still ahead of them. I needed advice on how to get out of debt while also saving up for my future goals, like affording a wedding sometime in the near future or moving out of my mother’s house. I needed advice on whether or not I should be putting money towards retirement in my situation. See! I told you I understood! I was overwhelmed, confused, and yes, I will admit it – scared! However, I did it! I figured out all of the answers to those questions and I became debt free. And, I realized I could help others become debt free too.

My student loans were a huge burden on my shoulders and they made me feel stuck and hopeless. Back in 2013, at graduation, I didn’t have a job offer yet and I was entering the social work field where we are underpaid. I was worried about how I was going to afford to live while carrying all of this student loan debt. I hated the idea of my student loans being around until I was in my 30s, 40s, or even 50s. I wanted to eventually marry my high school sweetheart, but I wondered how we would afford the wedding with my HUGE amount of debt. That was when I got angry at my debt and I kicked it to the curb – little by little.

Shortly after I became debt free I got engaged to my high school sweetheart and we paid for our wedding – in cash – in 2016. If I hadn’t started – and finished – my debt free journey prior to our engagement, paying for our wedding in cash along with continuing my debt snowball would have been a struggle! We are now saving up a down payment for our future first home together, a down payment we will pay for fully in cash! Again, all possible because we are debt free and we didn’t allow ourselves to get into debt while paying for our wedding.

Now that I am debt free I know firsthand that getting out of debt is possible – no matter how sizable your debt is. HELLO I paid off more than $90,000 in two years on a social worker’s salary! I know the freedom that comes along with being debt free and I live that reality every single day now. There are so many things you could be doing with your money for YOU. How does a fully funded  vacation sound?! Or the freedom to be a stay at home parent?! So, stop giving all of your hard-earned cash away to creditors so you can win with your money. The first step is Baby Step One – so, what are you waiting for?

Want to do what I did?

If you want assistance on your debt free journey, email or text Fostering Greatness today to set up a free consultation with me! I can’t wait to guide you to debt freedom utilizing the same steps I took to become debt free.

Already debt free? Well, look at you go! Now it is time to plan for the next step in your financial life. I can help you manage your finances and reach your financial goals, whatever they may be.