How to Cope
Remember to Check in With Others and Yourself
It’s normal to feel stressed, upset, isolated, and lonely during difficult times. That’s why it’s so important to explore healthy ways to cope—remember, caring for yourself is a skill that takes practice. You can get through the harder emotions and stay connected to the people who make you feel supported. Don’t forget that you deserve just as much care and attention as you give others, so make time for you too.
Need Help Coping?
You can do this—and you don’t have to alone. Here are a few strategies for dealing with stress and isolation that will help you stay healthy:
- Get Creative: Exploring a creative passion—or finding a new one—can be a healthy outlet to keep your mind off of the struggles you may be facing. For example, journaling can be a great way to sort through your thoughts and feelings. Putting things down on paper can help you get rid of everything that’s cluttering your headspace. So draw, write, color, and create.
- Take a Break: Social media is a great place to connect with people and stay up to date on the latest information. However, it’s important to recognize that sometimes consuming all of this information can make you feel overwhelmed and burnt out. So, remember to take breaks—even if they are short—to give yourself a mental rest.
- Meditation, Exercise, and Yoga: Meditation and yoga can help you calm your mind and feel grounded. Doing things like stretching and going for a run or walk around the block can release endorphins to help with stress and anxiety.
- Get Rest: Sleep is an important part of brain development and helps with processing emotions. Marijuana and alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle by suppressing your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep where you spend the most time dreaming. Your decreased quality of sleep can impact how you feel the next day and your mental and physical health. To get a better night’s rest, create consistency in your sleep routines—setting a regular bedtime, avoiding caffeine late in the day, taking a warm shower or bath, shutting off devices at least 30 minutes before getting into bed, closing curtains, and listening to something soothing like nature sounds or calming music.
Feeling a Lot Right Now?
That’s okay. Recognizing your emotions is part of helping yourself stay mentally and emotionally healthy. Now, you can find positive ways to manage them. Not sure where to start? Try some of these strategies for managing emotions:
- Acknowledge Them: It may be tempting to ignore or cover up painful feelings with things like alcohol or other drugs—but that only distracts from the problem without actually helping you work through it. Instead, try to acknowledge and work through your feelings by writing them down. Or making a list of the things you can control and what you can’t. This can help you process how you feel and understand what you can do about it in a productive way—instead of pushing your feelings aside.
- Set Small Goals: When things get hard, even small tasks can seem too overwhelming. If that happens, try breaking the problem down into manageable pieces. Remind yourself that you can overcome these obstacles by making them easier for you to tackle. Breaking things up so that you can focus on one step at a time gives you small goals to accomplish and makes dealing with how you’re feeling more attainable.
- Practice Compassion and Gratitude: Practicing compassion and gratitude, both towards others and yourself, is an important part of developing a safe and supportive space. Compassion can come in many forms—like allowing yourself to take a break from things that stress you out or supporting the people you care about by reaching out and listening. Taking time to give gratitude also allows you to reflect on the good things in your life, even when times seem tough.
- Engage Your Senses: Ground yourself by focusing on your senses. It’s easy to get swept up by anxiety and stress. When that happens, take a deep breath and focus on one or more of your senses. Taking it one sense at a time, list five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
How Do You Ask For Support?
Connecting with supportive people can remind you that you don’t have to deal with things alone. If you’re finding it hard to reach out, here are some tips for staying connected to your community and the people who are important to you:
- Check-in and Share How You Feel: When people are going through difficult times, they can sometimes isolate themselves. However, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. You can meet in-person, video chat, call, send an email, text, or DM someone to share your feelings and see how they’re doing too. Whether it’s with a friend, family member, or health professional, talking through the things that weigh on you—no matter how big or small—is an important part of self-care and can brighten up someone’s day. Finding a safe and supportive online community or on-campus club full of people who share your interests or experiences can also be a great way to meet new friends and feel less alone.
- Give Back: There are so many ways in which you can positively impact the community around you. Donate to or volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. Join a group that’s working toward something you believe in.
- Stay Involved with Your School: Campuses offer many positive resources for students: friends, faculty, counselors, and coaches. Make sure to connect with these groups at your school. I If it’s your first year, check out events your campus offers in order to meet and connect with new people.
Know Where to Look for Information and Support
Staying on top of the news might seem impossible—not to mention dealing with how you feel after every article or post you read. With so much information—and misinformation—out there, it can be hard to find trusted resources. It can also be difficult to know where to find help and support when you’re just feeling overwhelmed from all of it.
We've gathered these reputable sites and resources to help:
- Washington Recovery Help Line: The Washington Recovery Help Line offers anonymous, confidential help for those experiencing a substance use disorder or mental health challenge. The help line is open 24 hours a day.
- Crisis Connections: Crisis Connections connects people in physical, emotional, and financial crisis to services. The crisis line is open 24 hours a day.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides confidential, free, 24/7 support to anyone experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis. Call or text 988 to talk with a trained counselor.
- Washington State Coronavirus Response: Washington State’s official website for COVID-19 updates. Find information on Governor Inslee’s response plans, the latest facts and news, what’s open and closed, unemployment information, and more.
- Check-in With Yourself: Young adult emotions & health: Check-in With Yourself is a free web-based program for young adults created by researchers at the University of Washington. The program offers an opportunity for reflection on how you are feeling and how you tend to cope, while offering personalized strategies for stress management, increasing social support, and addressing alcohol use.
- A Mindful State: In response to COVID-19’s impact on emotional and mental health, this website was developed to provide a place for people to come together, share their stories, get some useful advice, and help each other build resilience.
- Teen Link: Despite the name, Teen Link also provides free, confidential help to young adults like you. If you need someone to talk to, visit www.teenlink.org or call or text 1-866-833-6546.
- Campus Support Services: We put together links for substance use and counseling support services on campuses across Washington state. If you feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, these are great services to use during the school year.
- County Designated Mental Health Providers: County level services are available to help anyone who may be in danger of harming themselves or others, or at risk due to a substance use or mental health disorder.
We’ve Got This
Many things have changed. We’ve had to press pause on some major events and experiences. It’s hard—and it’s okay to miss big things that never got to happen and the small routines of daily life.
These moments show us just how strong we are and remind us that we’re still able to laugh, learn, and stick together.