Coping cards are a list of strategies that assist in managing the feelings associated with intense emotions such as anxiety, panic, grief or sadness. They can even be used for emotions such as excitement or anticipation. The goal of a coping card is to be present with the emotion, without getting completely drawn in. They can be practiced when in balanced emotional states, and can be implemented at any time necessary. A coping card can be helpful as it provides many pre-thought ideas on how to manage intense emotions, so you do not have to think of ideas when the emotion arises. Different strategies are suitable at different times and for different emotions. There may be one time where a breathing exercise works well for anxiety, whereas the next experience it may not work as effectively. Be as creative as you want with the ideas on your coping card, and consider having it in your bag, pocket or phone. Some ideas for coping cards include:
Sitting down for a cup of herbal tea
Observation: where in my body do I feel this?
Reminding yourself that the emotion will reduce
Create a vision board to create hope for the future
Listen to music
Be mindful- be present with doing daily tasks such as the dishes, walking or brushing your teeth
Draw how you are feeling. Don't worry about if it is neat. If you are angry, scribble really hard. If you are feeling anxious, draw what that looks like
Stream of consciousness writing; where you write about any thought that pops into your head
Gratitude; write down 3 things you are grateful for right in that moment
Tear up paper
Distraction strategies such as doing an activity can be useful in moderation, however care needs to be taken that it isn't taking over and working as a control strategy.
With any intense emotion, self care needs to be a priority. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, managing stress levels, moving throughout the day and having meaningful connections.
Learn Your Triggers
Common triggers include:
lack of sleep
too much sleep
not moving enough
social situations, experiences
lack of vegetables
lack of protein
The best way to identify triggers is to observe your behaviour and reactions to different situations. Your health professional can assist you in creating a "symptom diary" where you can track how you are feeling and associated triggers.
Remember if you feel you are struggling, ask for help. A counsellor or pyschologist can be really helpful in assisting to identify causes, triggers and helping you through intense emotions.
Be gentle with yourself, and most importantly, be kind.