Self-help strategies can be valuable in helping us manage our emotions and regain a sense of stability.

Many of us experience emotional distress, and facing overwhelming challenges can make it difficult to cope. While seeking professional help is essential when the distress becomes too much to handle, there are times when external support might not be readily available

Self-help strategies to consider

WThe grounding technique is a strong self-help tool. (Vlada Karpovich/Pexels)
WThe grounding technique is a strong self-help tool. (Vlada Karpovich/Pexels)

Grounding technique

The grounding technique is a powerful self-help tool for bringing ourselves back to the present moment when we feel disoriented or detached from reality.

It involves deliberately anchoring our attention in the here and now by engaging our senses. To use the 5,4,3,2,1 technique:

  • Identify five things you can see around you (e.g., five red objects in the room).
  • Recognize four sounds you can hear in your environment (e.g., the fan's hum or birds chirping).
  • Touch three different objects or surfaces to feel their texture (e.g., the chair's surface).
  • Identify two things you can smell (e.g., food or perfume scents).
  • Take one slow and deep breath.

If distress persists, repeat these steps till you experience some relief. Grounding techniques can be beneficial in situations involving trauma, anxiety, panic, dissociation, excessive fear or worry.

Paced breathing technique

The mind and body are closely connected, and changes in our mental state can affect our physiology.

For instance, anxiety often leads to hyperventilation or shallow breathing. To counter that, practicing paced breathing can help bring about favorable changes in our emotional experiences.

Follow these steps:

  • Sit with a straight and relaxed posture.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose for four seconds, allowing the breath to fill your lower belly.
  • Hold your breath for one or two seconds.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for about four seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise five to ten times initially, gradually increasing the duration over time.

Practicing paced breathing for 10 to 15 minutes daily can be beneficial for overall well-being.

Time-out technique

During emotional events, our thoughts and actions may feel out of control (RDNE Stock project/Pexels)
During emotional events, our thoughts and actions may feel out of control (RDNE Stock project/Pexels)

During intense emotional experiences, it may feel like our thoughts and actions are out of control, leading to undesirable behavioral consequences.

This self-help technique allows us to step away from distressing environments and regain composure.

Follow these steps:

  • Recognize triggers and situations that lead to intense emotions.
  • Physically remove yourself from the stress-inducing environment (inform others about your intentions and expected return time).
  • Use this time-out to calm yourself, not to continue engaging with the triggers.
  • If emotions are retriggered on return, repeat the exercise.

Embracing self-help strategies and techniques for mental health empowers individuals to take an active role in their well-being.

While the aforementioned practices are not a substitute for professional treatment, they can significantly complement therapeutic interventions and contribute to a more balanced, resilient and positive mindset.

By incorporating self-help strategies in their daily life, you can embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, eventually leading to improved mental health and a more fulfilling life.

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