Hi, my name is Ben. I am currently finishing up my senior year in high school and also serve on Joon’s Student Advisory Board. Throughout high school my experiences have taught me about myself and how I react to different challenges. One of the most useful things I learned was how to find coping skills to help me through difficult or uncertain situations. Today I wanted to share some of my coping mechanisms and lay out some guidelines for students looking to develop their own.
Coping mechanisms are a crucial part of mental health because let's face it, no matter how great you may be feeling in one moment, there are lows that come with it. Being able to bounce back from these moments is something that can take time to learn how to do properly, however once found can make life much easier. Coping mechanisms are the cushions that we can use to soften or even break our fall when things go wrong. They help us become more resilient. In short, effective coping is a way in which you can calm your mind down and reset. Examples of healthy coping mechanisms include listening to music, playing an instrument, or exercising; while various unhealthy coping options can include taking our anger out on others, resorting to drugs, or inflicting self-harm.
Coping mechanisms are helpful ways to calm yourself and manage emotions. Good coping skills cannot come at the expense of others or your health.
Good coping mechanisms don't necessarily need to benefit others, but doing so is a bonus and can make the activity more meaningful. This could be as simple as spending time with and helping others. For example, I have a friend who likes to knit and donates finished blankets to charity.
From my experience, the best options are ones that are easily accessible and require minimal effort to use. The easier they are to use, the more often you will resort to them, and that is what makes them effective! An example of this is my personal favorite coping mechanism, listening to music.
I have many methods that I frequently use, however, what I resort to most of the time is music. I love being able to explore different artists and genres and experience new albums. My favorite part of music is picking a song or two that is generally relaxed, and simply letting it flow through me, almost as if I am becoming one with it. I find that it calms my mind and body, and it's something I can do just about anywhere as long as I have headphones. I created a Spotify playlist of some of my favorite songs that I consider relaxing. What I love about music is the fact that many of the melodies have meaning to me. For example, one song on the playlist titled “Reborn” brings me back to my time spent on canoe trips in northern Ontario in summers growing up. Having these reminders helps bring me to a place in my mind that is calm, and helps me focus on myself.
Another coping mechanism of mine is being able to get outdoors. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and love to take advantage of the greenery and many parks around where I live. Especially as it feels like so much of our lives are spent either inside or on social media, having the option to put the phone down and get away from others can be a really nice reset.
Ultimately, when finding positive coping mechanisms, the biggest thing is making sure it works for you, whether it be music, going outdoors, or finding a specific hobby or niche. As long as it helps you calm down and process thoughts and emotions, you have found a successful coping mechanism. The last thing to understand is that everyone will have their own coping mechanisms, and everyone is different in how they react. Good luck and be well!