Staying on track through winter; coping strategies

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As we move through the first couple of months of the new year, it can often feel like we are just going through the motions – and it can be hard to keep morale high. Even if the January Blues are now behind us, many people will find it difficult to stay on track through February and beyond, especially when the weather is still cold, and the prospect of a bank holiday feels like a far distant dream. We focus on coping strategies to help you stay on track, techniques to reduce stress and worry, and share some ways to help you build up your resilience stores.

Coping strategies: dealing with worry

There are 2 different types of worry:

Hypothetical worries:
Worries that are usually future focused and start with ‘what if’. ‘What if work gets so busy and I won’t have time to take a holiday’

These worries are in the future, and no matter how much we worry about them in this very moment, it will not change the outcome. We can manage this type of worry with a technique which is called Worry Time. This technique focuses on still worrying but worrying at a time that is controlled by us rather than the worry controlling our time. This technique helps us to gain back
valuable time and energy that we would spend on worrying.

Practical worries:
Worries that we can physically do something about. ‘My car is making a knocking sound and I’m worried we might break down’

With these worries we’re able to use a technique which is called problem solving, to put a plan into place to help. We problem solve every single day, but when we’re feeling overwhelmed this can be difficult to do, therefore this technique allows us to take a step back and problem solve, step by step.

Managing worry isn’t easy. Often, we can be teaching our brain a whole new way to think, so don’t beat yourself up if it takes a while to perfect. Here are 3 ways to manage worry:

Set goals.
Set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based). Don’t set yourself goals that are too difficult as this will only make things feel worse. Set goals and targets that you can achieve, and then allow yourself to feel a sense of achievement when you achieve them.

Practice gratitude.
With the world around us feeling uncertain, focusing our attention on our constants, or even small positives can really help to re-shape our thoughts, which overall has a huge impact on how we’re feeling. Take the time (daily if you can) to reflect on three key things that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be anything super positive or exceptional, it could be taking a moment to be grateful for the air in your lungs or the coffee in your mug.

Be mindful.
By practicing mindfulness, you can step away from all the thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing and concentrating on how you feel in this very moment. Mindfulness is a little like standing in a field staring up at the clouds passing you by. Your thoughts are those clouds, and you can let them come and go without the need to fight them or push them away.

Try this: Here is a mindfulness technique that can be used anywhere, anytime.

Take a couple of minutes to reflect on:

Five things you see
Four things you can touch
Three things you hear
Two things you smell
One thing you taste

By taking the time to notice these things, it will bring you back into the present moment and allow you to feel grounded in the here and now.

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