When life takes things out of our hands and all the problem-solving in the world is not going to change anything, its time to prioritise the coping strategies that will help you to endure the emotional pain that you face.

When you cannot change the situation, emotion-focused coping is the best choice. This involves actions that soothe distress to help you manage a difficult time. Excellent choices for emotion-focused coping include:

Emotion-focused coping

Getting social support. Talk, talk, talk. Research shows us that sharing our pain with trusted friends and family helps in so many ways. When we connect with others, it turns down our threat system to lower the intensity of our stress Response. It reduces the likelihood of depression and helps recovery of existing depression.

Expressive writing. Keeping a journal is a great way to check in with yourself each day, especially if you haven’t had the chance to talk. Express all the emotions you have been experiencing. There is evidence for the positive effects of journaling as a daily routine.

Meditation. Before you role your eyes, the evidence now backing meditation as a tool for both prevention and recovery is well-established and continues to grow. If you already have knowledge of mindfulness meditation then get back to it. For those new to it, let me know if you would like some posts on this.

Brainstorm your own ideas

These are just a few ideas, but you may have some of your own. The key here is that you find things that help you to feel safe, soothed and cared for. In circumstances where emotions are very strong, such as grief, Emotion-focused coping helps to reduce the intensity of your distress for short periods. A break for the mind. It will not take the pain away. Instead it provides a compassionate helping hand that helps you to feel strong enough to feel the emotion.

But if you focus on this and exclude problem-solving then you run the risk of leaving a solvable problem unresolved. For example, if you had a cavity then a visit to the dentist could solve it. If you stay at home to soothe your anxiety about the dentist, this is probably going to make the situation worse. So where problems can be solved, use problem-focused coping. I described this in a previous post.

Building your awareness of the coping mechanisms is so important. The moment you become fully aware that a response is not helping, you open up the opportunity to try something different. Share with us any ideas you have on this.