Problems are not the problem. Coping is the problem ~ Virginia Satir

  • Sudden health issues,
  • Unexpected financial difficulties
  • Meeting others’ exhausting expectations – of co-workers, friends, loved ones
  • Battling your inner critic and perfectionism
  • The daily grind of commuter traffic snarls and delays that test your patience

When life delivers temporary or long-term struggles and setbacks that bring up fear, anger, or sadness, it can cause stress and put you into overwhelm. Learning to cope in a healthy way during tough times is a form of ‘time-out’ that allows you to get through the challenges, build greater resilience and develop more awareness to deal with future problems as they arise.


How you cope can be healthy or unhealthy

When you are caught up in life’s inevitable pitfalls how do you respond in a way that is effective and self-supportive or self-destructive?

It can be tempting to want to make the discomfort just disappear so you might reach for the unhealthy ‘quick fix’ that numbs you out or distracts you. You might turn to alcohol, drugs or over-eating which works temporarily but ultimately does nothing to develop healthy responses and build long-term wellbeing.


Find ways to be more present and intelligently in control…


Here are some effective and healthy coping strategies that can help you. Try them out and create your own ‘go to’ list of the suggestions that speak to you:

  • Reflect

– Take a step back and become the observer of your experience. Consider what is most important in the situation and decide how much time and energy it deserves.

– Consider the worst case scenario – what is the worst that can happen and how likely is it to occur? How would you cope if it did?

-Decide to uncover the positives out of a stressful situation – dig as deep as you can to find optimistic possibilities

-Give yourself some love – have self-compassion, forgive yourself for mistakes, acknowledge your strengths

-Journal your feelings – achieve clarity and perspective by writing about anger, sadness, frustrations

-Find things in your life that you are grateful for – appreciate the good

  • Breathe

-Focus on your breath – Stress focuses on the future or the past. Consciously use the breath to mindfully come into the present moment.

  • Use this simple 4-count breath (breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for 4)
  • Try deep, full body breathing to relieve tension

-Commit to Breathwork – This profound emotional release work addresses the trauma, patterns of worry, embedded memories, and limiting beliefs that block access to pure joy.

  • Talk

-Reach out for help and support to trusted friends or family – Having the ability to hear your own thoughts can help bring perspective and clarity to the issue

-Seek counselling from a professional when the issues are too complex or emotionally charged to safely work through on your own.

-Silence your inner critic with positive self-talk that can counter any negativity about your circumstances

  • Take Action

-Connect with nature – walk barefoot on the earth, lift your face to the sun, touch a tree, flower

-Get pro-active – exercise, walk, meditate, garden, go for a drive,

-Focus on others’ needs – Volunteer in your community

-Listen to music – move to the beat of your favourite piece, sing along

-Re-balance your personal/work life – reduce workload that causes overwhelm – delegate, take time off – spend quality time with loved ones

-Create a calm and ordered home environment – clean clutter and organise your space – add candles, pleasing art, inviting scents

-Create your own Coping To Do checklist – align your unique personality and needs with the coping strategies that suit your circumstances


Being able to cope with whatever life delivers is empowering. It can change unsettling and scary experiences into wise, clear plans of action that restore inner balance. Learning how to cope is a trial and error journey toward healthy change that holds the reward of inner strength, resilience, and victory over being victimized by stress. Be patient and loving with yourself as you travel the road.

Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end ~ Robin Sharma

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