Seven Coping Strategies For Better Mental Wellness
Iím a mental wellness coach, a performance psychology coach and an executive coach. When people first come to me they complete an extensive assessment that gives me an excellent snapshot of their strengths and capabilities and of the areas they need to work on. Often, they come to me with a very thin tool kit of coping skills. They just havenít been introduced to critical mental strategies and stress control techniques that can help them with self-regulation. Because they donít have these skills in place, they simply are unable to handle the stress, pressures and problems that come their way. Thereís nothing innately wrong with them as people. They donít have character flaws. Theyíre not lazy. They just donít have the proper array of coping strategies that will help them handle the difficulties they face. This article describes seven coping skills you can put to good use immediately, in whatever performance arena youíre in, or simply in daily life.
Seven Coping Strategies For Better Mental Wellness
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.
You canít always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.
Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.
You donít have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.
Iím a mental wellness coach, a performance psychology coach and an executive coach. When people first come to me they complete an extensive assessment that gives me an excellent snapshot of their strengths and capabilities and of the areas they need to work on. Often, they come to me with a very thin tool kit of coping skills. They just havenít been introduced to critical mental strategies and stress control techniques that can help them with self-regulation. Because they donít have these skills in place, they simply are unable to handle the stress, pressures and problems that come their way. Thereís nothing innately wrong with them as people. They donít have character flaws. Theyíre not lazy. They just donít have the proper array of coping strategies that will help them handle the difficulties they face.
For example, if youíre a tennis player who wants to learn how to hit a spin serve, but you have no idea whatsoever how to begin that process, you will flounder and struggle for a long time if you attempt to learn it on your own. This is because the spin serve has a set of very complicated techniques to learn and to master. But, once you learn a few rudiments about the spin serve, and you practice the techniques regularly, you soon come to discover that you can indeed hit a fairly decent spin serve.
Life itself is very similar to this tennis example. If you have stage fright when you speak in public, but you donít have the proper coping skills to call upon, you will continue to have stage fright. No amount of positive thinking, or motivational quotes, or encouragement from other people will enable you to reduce your stage fright. If you donít understand the strategies of public speaking and the ins and outs of how to communicate to an audience, these will also add to your stress. But, unfortunately, plenty of reasonably experienced speakers know all of this, yet they still suffer from stage fright. Why is this? Only specific coping skills aimed at reducing the anxiety will help you manage the stage fright. You notice that I used the word manage, and not eliminate. Thatís because even highly experienced professional public speakers experience a degree of nerves before they speak. The difference with these professionals is that they know how to manage their nerves to their benefit. They have mental strategies in place, along with excellent stress management coping skills.
Here are seven coping skills you can put to good use immediately, in whatever performance arena youíre in, or simply in daily life.
- Manage Your Inner Critic: Itís good to evaluate what youíre doing and to be discerning, but if you often judge yourself harshly and feel what youíre doing is rarely good enough, youíll only be working against yourself. Ask yourself, are you your own best coach or your own worst enemy?
- Trust Your Training: If you donít really know what youíre doing, then you need to get those skills in place so you feel more confident. However, many people do know what theyíre doing, but they forget this. Before you perform, remind yourself that you have the goods. Youíve done this well before. You do this in practice all the time. This is called ďtrust your trainingĒ.
- Warm Up Before Every Event: Even a phone call or a Zoom meeting in business is a performance, an event. Donít just dash from event to event and start your business meetings cold. Warm up your mind, voice, emotions and behavior. If youíll be asking questions or presenting, go through a two or three minute dress rehearsal before you log into zoom. Then, when the real meeting begins, what youíll be saying will be the second time you said it that day. Youíll feel much more in flow.
- Get A Game Plan: When people perform, whether itís in sports, public speaking, being interviewed, or leading a meeting, having a game plan helps make them feel secure, organized and grounded. A game plan is just a simple outline or structure of what you plan to do in your performance. Without a game plan our mind tends to be jumpy and fragmented. A game plan gives you focus.
- Embrace The Growth Mentality: If youíre interviewing for a new job, itís natural to feel nervous. Many people truly dread going to an interview. They view it as a necessary evil. If you have this degree of anxiety about interviewing, it will of course negatively affect your performance. But thereís a better way. You never know if youíll get the job, but you can take away something tangible from the interview experience, no matter what. That is, you can always learn something from the situation. You can learn more about the process of interviewing, and you can learn more about yourself. Embracing the growth mentality allows you to ďwinĒ no matter how the situation turns out.
- Stop Wishing Things Were Easy: My clients often hear me say, donít hope for an easy life, strive to be a strong person. When we hope that an upcoming performance or experience will be easy, this is really our anxiety talking. Weíre afraid that we may not measure up. So we fantasize, and wish for an ideal, stress-free situation. Instead, expect the upcoming situation to be challenging, and if it is, well, you should be all set for it.
- Quiet Your Mind: A quiet mind is the doorway to flow and the zone. A busy, fragmented, jumpy, overactive mind blocks flow. To reduce the noise in your mind, sit still for 30 seconds to one minute and simply listen to what is around you. Each time you identify a sound, label or name that sound, in your mind. For example, if you hear birds chirping you would think ďbirds chirpingĒ. If you hear a car in the street you would think ďcarĒ. Continue listening for what is there as you label each sound. When you conclude this exercise, you will think back and realize that aside from the words naming what you heard, the rest of your mind was relatively quieter than it was at the outset. This little technique is called ďlisten and labelĒ.
I recommend that you become a connoisseur of coping skills. Collect as many coping skills as you possibly can and begin applying these to all sorts of situations that cause you stress and anxiety. Here Iíve given you seven coping skills that you can put into your mental wellness tool kit. The more coping skills you have in your collection, it will take far more stress and pressure to get you off balance.
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
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