Ways to Cope

Everyone copes with stress, emotions, and challenges differently. How do you cope? Are your coping strategies actually helping you deal with the situation? We’ve got some suggestions if you’re not sure where to start or are looking for new ideas.Find at least one safe person outside of your family you can talk with about your life. If you’re not sure who to reach out to, look for someone who you feel comfortable around, is a good listener, has time, and will focus on you. Tell them what you want from them—do you want them to listen, provide advice, challenge, motivate, or mentor you?

  • Share your needs with your family if possible. Depending on your family dynamic, this can be really hard. Remember that they won’t know what you think, feel, or need unless you tell them.
  • Talk to your family doctor or another health care provider about your own health and well-being.
  • Take (or make) time for yourself because you matter too:
    • Try to do one thing each day that you enjoy. Taking even 10 – 15 minutes for yourself can be a step in the right direction and help you start to recharge.
    • Plan for breaks from your responsibilities, especially when the situation is chronic and long-term, and make sure you have a safe place you can go to relax.
  • Channel your energy and emotions into something positive:
    • Learn something new or join a group activity or club.
    • Express yourself through art, dance, poetry, singing, or drama.
    • Find a fun activity you can do with someone in your family.
    • Advocate for causes you believe in.
  • Stay healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually by scheduling in time for a walk, run, bike ride, sport, or workout.
  • Some people find it helpful to focus on the positives and what they do have in their lives:
    • Pay attention to the small things that are going right in your life like cooking tasty food or doing something nice that makes a stranger smile.
    • Think about all the happy times you’ve had with the person with exceptional needs in your family and remember that deep down inside they are still that person.
    • Use humour to help you make the best of a difficult situation.
    • Look forward to the future. This can help you get through a tough time and realize it won’t always be this way.
  • You may feel that you need to do everything or be everything to everyone. Try not to be too hard on yourself and reach out for help when needed.
  • Give yourself permission to laugh, have fun, and be silly sometimes.
  • Develop a plan for emergency or crisis situations that might come up. This can help ease your mind.
  • Have a plan to avoid coping strategies that feel good in the moment but may hurt you in the long run. Instead of using strategies like hurting yourself, drinking or using drugs, try:
    • Creating a list of positive activities and doing something from that list instead, like listening to music, journaling, or watching a funny movie.
    • Calling, texting, or video chatting with a caring friend or family member.
  • Take positive action on the things you can change to make you feel better.
  • Get some help. Sometimes you’ll feel upset about what’s going on. If you feel like this is getting overwhelming, it’s time to talk to your family doctor, school counsellor, another adult you trust, or call a local help line.

Remember that taking time for yourself and seeking help from others is important. You don’t have to feel guilty about that.

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