Updated: Oct 24
As a recent college grad from Northwestern University, coping tips were never something I knew I needed before. I was a college athlete who played soccer in college, but chose to forgo my 5th year of eligibility (that we got from COVID), for my mental health. Even though all that I had worked so hard for, looked like the perfect situation to outsiders, continuing to play made me feel ridded with anxiety
To give a little background, I started my college career at the University of Arizona. I had a coach who was mentally and emotionally abusive, and decided I could no longer continue at the institution. I transferred to Northwestern during the pandemic and became riddled with anxiety. Over time, through tips from friends, family, my therapist, and my opportunity to intern at Bodhi, I learned so many coping skills that helped me with my anxiety and helped me feel empowered, and relearning how to be a person outside of sports. This even gave me the confidence to speak out against my coach at Arizona with many other girls and got him fired from the multiple different occasions of mental abuse from him. I didn't let my anxiety of what could happen overpower my voice that matters, I was growing. I did, however, decide to forgo my extra year at Northwestern because I was mentally exhausted. I battled with my mind for months over this, but I realized the anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration stopped me from enjoying the sport I once loved. I found more stress in the sport than I did happiness, and I knew it was time to let it go and find out who I am without soccer.
Let me be the first to say, post grad is NO JOKE. I was the most lost I had ever been. I no longer had practice or games I had to be at, I no longer had deadlines for assignments. I just had time, and no idea how to fill my days. Don't get me wrong, I love having an empty schedule, but even after a month I was filled with panic and anxiety. Trying to find my purpose felt so defeating and I didn't know where to even start. I knew I wanted to go to grad school, but finding the right school, trying to find a job that felt fulfilling but still let me be free, and so much more became challenging. One thing that did help was talking. Talking about the million thoughts going through my mind and time. Time heals. Time helped me realize where I want to go, it led me to get a job I love (at Bodhi of course), and has provided me with a period of reflection that I've never had before.
These coping tips and strategies are something that have changed my life. Some things I could buy that would make me feel better, some I would take action on, and others I would simply let be. The beauty of coping strategies is that some may work for you, some may not. No person is the same, and so many different coping strategies or tools exist to help us find what works best for us as an individual. So here is a list of what works for me, take what you need, and I hope you find something in there that makes life a little better for you. As my grandpa would always say, we GET to do things, not have to do them.
I finished my schooling in Illinois, but live in Arizona so not having sun year round was difficult for me. I had a lot of trouble sleeping at night, but this helped me so much because my body felt it was sunlight and I felt like my days turned around.
This thing is AMAZING. I absolutely love it and it always calmed me down. I feel safe and comfortable when I use it and highly recommend this to anyone and everyone.
Call this silly, but I swear by it. Often times it was hard for me to be away from all of the people I love and have the teddy bear that can be warmed up and has a relaxing scent helped calm me down so much. I still have it, and I love it.
I have been journaling since high school. I like to write about the good things in my day so I remember those things and have learned that those bad things that seemed big at the time dissolve into distant memories.
Now I journal when I feel drawn to do so, I don’t do it when it feels like a task. I currently write journal entries to people I love like I am talking to them, but it’s just a conversation with myself.
Being able to look back at these really makes me happy, and I can also see how I’ve grown from the time I wrote them. (I just order any journal from amazon that I like at the time)
Fun fact, one of my favorite dates is to go and make candles, so I make those with calming scents and absolutely love them
I always light candles in my room, they make my room feel clean and it’s a way for me to calmly unwind and reflect on the day. I normally like to light it after I clean my room or at night while watching shows.
Anywhere you can get one, it’s a huge stress reliever for me. I have some from target that has mandalas with a huge pack of colored pencils. I'll light a candle and color.
This was recommended by my mom from a therapist she met that helped me. I'll be honest, sometimes I would cry using this workbook because it was so hard to physically see how hard I struggled. I will say, the growth I had from this felt so empowering and it's something I didn't know I really needed.
Just read it, that's all I have to say.
I really do well under cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) so many of my coping skills I came up with using collaboratively with my therapist.
Begin by acknowledging the anxiety, stating either aloud to myself, or preferably to someone else that I am feeling anxious.
I notice when I’m feeling anxious when I feel my heart start to race, and my thoughts spiraling, and I get knots in my stomach even when the situation I am in is completely safe
I have found that telling someone I am feeling anxious helps me really think about the anxiety I am feeling and is my first step to combating the anxiety. This helps me simplify it and tell myself that it is just a feeling, it doesn’t mean that my thoughts are true, but simply that they are present in my mind.
This has become one of my favorite and most commonly used skills.
Anytime I am nervous or stressed I take time to take at least three deep breaths. This instantly slows my heart rate down.
If I am feeling anxious at home, I also enjoy using youtube videos of deep breathing, such as box breathing or something I call mindful minute (where I focus on breathing for the next minute and nothing else).
Talk to myself about the anxious thoughts I am having.
I have learned that talking to myself about my anxiety helps me a lot. When I am feeling anxious, I think of all the times I have been in a similar situation, and think about how I have made it through every single time.
Listen to podcasts
Sometimes it can be easy to get consumed in my thoughts. Something I really enjoy doing is listening to podcasts. Listening allows me to focus solely on what is being said on the podcast, and my thoughts slow down.
I don’t do this to ignore my anxiety, but I have found it calms me in a way where other things may not. This can also be done with watching a show or a game or whatever you may like.
Mapping out your anxiety
This is something I do when a problem comes up in my life. I map it out almost like a chart of options that leads to a yes or no solution. This can be written down, but I often do it in my head. I start off with the problem, identifying what is triggering my anxiety. Then I go through and ask myself am I in danger? Has this been told to me or is it something I came up with? Will this matter in a day or two? Can I talk to someone about it? Etc.
It’s just something that allows me to simplify the feelings of anxiety I am experiencing and helps me separate my anxious thoughts from the truth.
I am a firm believer that music heals. Find those songs you listen to every word and those songs you feel nothing but the beat. Music has been something I've loved for years. I spend time every week adding to my playlists I've curated and I love it. I'm the type of person who associates music with distinct memories and it's something that brings me back to those moments even when they may be distant. It's a place where the music feels healing to me. Life may change, and so will relationships, but the way I felt when I first heard those songs and the memories I've created with them stay forever. I highly recommend trying this and find solace in your music you listen to.
As always, I hope you get something out of this, but this is not a rule book to coping. These ideas may not work for you, but that's okay, there are so many more out there. I urge you to explore what works best for you, but always know if it feels beyond you, reach out to a professional for help. Asking for help is a huge sign of strength (trust me, I struggled with this too), but I am better for it, and think therapy is so beneficial.
If you are in search for more, and feel it's time for therapy, schedule a free consultation today!