Coping Strategies

‘Coping strategy’ is the fancy term for actions or thoughts that help you deal with the challenges that life throws at you. Different things work for different people. Try out different strategies until you find the ones that help you feel better.

Coping strategies include:

  • Talk – expressing how you are feeling is better than bottling it up.
  • Get information so you know what to expect and feel more in control. Ask lots of questions and write down the answers.
  • Practice slow, abdominal (into your belly) breathing. Try it for a few minutes and see how calming it is.
  • Eat chocolate or treat yourself in whatever way you like.
  • Write a journal or blog.
  • Set a specific time each day to worry and think about your problems, with a time limit. When negative thoughts come into your mind, tell yourself you’ll think about them when it’s your ‘worry time’ – so you can focus on other things the rest of the day.
  • Try to keep life as ‘normal’ as possible. Watch movies, hang out with friends, do some school work or study.
  • Get active. Go for a walk. Kick a footy around. Try gentle activities like swimming or yoga. Exercise can release ‘feel good’ hormones in your body.
  • Distract yourself. Watch a funny movie, do a crossword, play games.
  • Learn how to meditate. You’ll be amazed how calming it is. You can practice mindfulness meditation with the help of the Smiling Mind App. Tap into your spirituality – not just traditional religion but anything that you connect with.
  • Try something new. Always wanted to learn guitar, or Italian? A new hobby gives you something to focus on other than cancer.
  • A grounding strategy that can help to bring you back into the here and now e.g. naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch, 1 thing can taste.

Ask your doctor or someone in your YCS team to recommend a psychologist or counsellor who can help you express your feelings in ways that are helpful, not harmful. Or read tips for dealing with common reactions like anger, fear and sadness.