Dragging a boulder behind you—all the time! That is what suffering from a mental health issue like anxiety, depression, or PTSD feels alike. When you’re in good spirits it doesn’t feel too heavy, and you can keep going. When your energy is low it seems to almost stop you in your tracks. Luckily, there are some strategies to use when having a down day, week, or month Using these coking skills can make things just a little bit easier.

Learn To Be

One strategy that can be partially useful for coping when your mental health isn’t great is learning just to be. This can be a pretty alien concept to many because we are accustomed to always doing, always trying, always attempting to find the answer to our problems.


However, there are some older Eastern teachings that suggest that sometimes it’s all the frantic effort we’re making around the problem itself that is makes it worse and exhausts us in the process.

Instead, they suggest we learn to calm ourselves, at least on the outside, and learn to listen to what’s going on in the inside. It may not always be what we want to hear, but by learning to be within ourselves we can more effectively cope with whatever mental health state we’re in.

Seek Proper Treatment

Proper treatment is essential for living with a mental illness, and it’s important to stick to it. In fact, mental health treatment is a bit like antibiotics; you shouldn’t stop doing it as soon as you feel better. You have to complete the whole course!

Of course, it’s also crucial that you get the right treatment for the problem you are living with. That means if an anxiety disorder is disrupting your life, a treatment specifically for your anxiety may be needed to help you live a full, functional life.

Similarly, if you are struggling with addiction, seeking out addiction support, such as medication-assisted treatment or MAT, and specialized treatment for any co-occurring mental illnesses is important. After all, what really matters here is what will get you to that place where your condition is more manageable so you can work towards a full recovery.

Establish Positive Habits

Good habits are another strategy you can use to make coping with mental health issue easier. Once we get into the habit of doing things in a specific way, we don’t have to expend so much effort to complete them on a regular basis.

What this means is that if you get into positive habits such as exercising, eating well, going to therapy, and good sleep hygiene, it’s possible to feel better and manage your mental health more effectively. Even when you don’t feel great, sometimes pushing yourself to stick to your routine can be beneficial.

It’s good to note, though, that you should always listen to your doctor and your body. Pushing through can be beneficial, but it can also be detrimental. Trust your gut and call your doctor with questions.

Deal With Your Emotions

Unprocessed feelings can contribute to poor mental health, especially if you are struggling with a mental illness. In fact, in some conditions like borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder, your feelings change very rapidly from one extreme to another, and bottling emotions up exacerbates those mood swings.

When your emotions go unattended to, an idea that our emotions are facts, static and unchangeable, can develop. It can feel is if our sad or exhausted mood will always be there.

However, the opposite is in fact, true. Successfully dealing with emotions allows us to realize that just because we feel negative about things doesn’t mean that the situation is a bad one or that we will always feel negative. It allows us to understand that emotions evolve and change over time, so just because we feel bad today doesn’t mean that we will tomorrow.

Dealing with feelings needs to be more about acknowledging them and not repressing them. It means not allowing them to dominate our thinking.

Don’t Go It Alone

Mental illness can be incredibly isolating. In fact, when you are suffering it can seem as if no one has ever felt so sad or had such terrible experiences as you. However, it’s important to remind yourself that this isn’t the case. That is merely your illness talking.

In fact, mental health issues are a pervasive part of the human experience and many people publicly and privately talk about their personal experiences and how they cope.

Coping Skills for Mental Health

Whether you’re private about your struggles or discuss it more openly, a little help goes a long way. Try to ask for it when you need to.

Many mental illnesses have organizations, support groups, and charities out there that are willing and able to help you. They offer advice, support, and connect you with others with the same experiences. Solidarity in a community of people like you is very beneficial , and it can provide not only support but also give you the ability to see how others cope and recover.

Some of the most useful mental health coping techniques include seeking support, learning to deal with your emotions in a positive way, establishing positive habits, finding the right treatment for you, and just slowing down and practicing acceptance. Life with a mental illness is challenging, but utilizing constructive coping skills greatly increases your overall wellness and helps you lead a happier, healthier life.

Published by Tiffany Barry

Tiffany Barry is a single mom of 4 who never really planned it out that way. Her writing about motherhood, family finances, parenting, and more has been featured on sites like Scary Mommy, Modern Mom, and Parenting.com.

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  1. One of the best blog posts i have read in a long time. Seeking help is hard for many with mental illness because of stigma. Thoughtful, compassionate posts such as this helps to destroy that stigma. you are savings lives. thank you!

  2. Such a important conversation to have. Living a healthy life is about so much more than just being physically active and eating healthy…this is a great post and inspiring especially for those you battle with depression. Thanks for sharing!

  3. So true, everyone deserves to be happy and healthier, this is a very inspiring and motivating article, worth sharing.

  4. You have covered all the bases here! I think getting treatment is so important and to follow the doctor’s directions.

  5. This is a great post! Seeking help is the first step someone who feels depressed should do. Then, I agree with not trying to go through it on your own. Good friends will always understand.

    1. Exactly! And alone can mean different things for different people. Sometimes it means reaching out for help from your community, and sometimes it means adding medication or therapy as an alternate type of support.

  6. Such an informative post and definitely a great help to a happy life. Everything you’ve cited is so true and really what needs to be done in reality.

    1. That’s a good point! I’ve found the older I get, the more comfortable I’ve become with the idea of just being.

  7. There are two here that I think everyone in the world needs to really take head of. Those are not trying to do it alone and always seeking help when it’s needed. Thank you for this.