Your coping skills toolkit

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Your coping skills toolkit

Welcome to your first gift from Thrive Wellness & Mediation!

In this checklist will find some of the top skills, tips, and strategies we coach and help our clients practice to create and live their best life!

You can take many steps to take care of yourself when you are battling with the effects of chronic stress, Depression, anxiety or trauma (PTSD), or even a less serious case of the blues. The first step is to acknowledge that you are not your best, don’t feel well and/or have problems that are proving to be overwhelming.

The first step is to admit that you need help and you need to try something different.

Research studies have shown that psychotherapy, medications, spiritual practice, healthy lifestyle changes such as improving sleep, exercise, healthy food can help improve your mood and restore health. Additionally, the act of reaching out to a social network and creating social supports is key to recovery and healing from Chronic stress, trauma, Depression and anxiety.

In all my years of practice and living, I have come to truly believe that achieving better health is not a solitary task. It takes a “village” of skills, people and contexts because health is not the absence of symptoms- it is VITALITY in mind, body and spirit.

Below are tools, strategies and behaviors that comprise a powerful starting point in your journey towards leading your best life!

Remember however, they are not meant to be a to-do list, but a reminder that you can make small changes in your life that might help your mood. If you would like to learn how best to apply these core skills to create and lead your best life, contact Dr. Priyanka here.

Accept Help: Learn more about the condition you have: Educate yourself and become your own health champion

Today there are a multitude of online resources for you to learn about what problems you may be dealing with. You can also talk with your primary care physician, mental health provider or other care providers who may have insights into your troubles. Getting treatment is a critical step to feel better and will only grow your inner strengths…not weaken you!

If you want to be happier, feel more in control of your life and health, have more satisfying relationships, reign in your stress, grow personally or maximize your potential, a critical starting point is to educate, inform and empower yourself with information.

Move to change your state of mind.

Regular exercise can be powerful medicine. Try walking, swimming, weight training, martial arts, or dancing. Even small amounts of movement can help you change your mood.

You want to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. But a good first steps is a 10-minute walk which can improve your mood for one-two hours.

  • Your fatigue will improve – when distraught and depressed you feel fatigued all the time but stick with exercise and you will actually find a reservoir of energy at the end!

  • Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic– activities that are seamless and have a rhythm: walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dancing are good examples.

Eat to nourish

Often people tend to over-eat or not eat enough when they are trying to cope with their feelings.

  • TUNE in to your hunger: When you think you feel hungry PAUSE and ask yourself: “am I really hungry or am I feeling something else? “Do I really want that cookie or do I feel alone right now?”

  • Eat a WHOLESOME diet with a variety of nutrient rich foods.

  • Importantly, PAUSE when you reach for junk food! Because we tend to crave carbohydrates when we are stressed and depressed. Choose your carbohydrates wisely.

  • RIDE the Urge Wave!: Engage in activities or ‘healthy distractions’ that will help your mind stay busy while your body rides out the urge to eat junk or over-eat.


Sleep is basic to energy, healthy eating, and thinking straight. Improving sleep will need to include a combination of medication/s, psychotherapy and attention to lifestyle changes.

Here are some lifestyle tips that can relieve sleep issues:

  • WINDING DOWN: As sleep time approaches try these tips to calm, cool and get your body and mind ready for sleep
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine in the evening.
  • Avoid looking at a bright screen prior to bedtime- the bright light from your smart device or TV suppresses the sleep hormone- * Melatonin which tells your brain “its time to go to bed.”
  • Use the bed only for sleeping and sex not watching TV or working. This way, your bed becomes a cue for sleeping, not for lying awake.
  • MEDITATION, listening to SOFT MUSIC. Crime shows and unsolved mysteries are not the best choice for this time of the day for your brain!
  • Remember Relaxed brain = sleep

Build a structured routine which includes a self-care routine

When you are depressed, anxious or barely getting through your day, one day fuses into the next, day and night lose their identity. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.

Breathe to Relax and take a break

Inhale…..Exhale….Repeat Deep mindful breathing that is practiced regularly, is deliberate and done with the intention to ease the mind, relax the nerves and rejuvenates the spirit.

Anyone can do this form of breathing or mindfulness meditation. By becoming aware of your breath in the moment you begin living less “in your head” and more in the “now.” Put another way, breath awareness helps with short circuiting the worries, ruminative and angry/sad thoughts that make up depression.

What helps you unwind or relax? Music, watching movies, being outside, yoga, meditation, prayer are important ways to unwind.

Be gentle and compassionate with yourself

Check the inner (harsh) critic that is engaging in a lot of “putting down.” Sometimes you may not even know that you are putting yourself down and holding yourself back.

Think about what you could be angry at and address the root cause.

Stress, Trauma, Depression and anxiety can also include feelings of anger. Anger is a powerful and primary emotion. When harnessed well, it can have many positive consequences. But it can become harmful when you deny, and “stuff” your feelings.

Acknowledge or label your angry feelings. Accept or discuss them so that you are less likely to feel burdened by them.


Try this. Read something funny or watch your favorite comedy show/comedian for 2-5 minutes. Now stop and ask yourself how anxious you are, on a scale of 1-10. If you find your anxiety rating has gone down, you have just employed one of the most powerful techniques to manage your anxiety.

Humor creates a state is the opposite of the bodily tension that anxiety perpetuates. Engaging in “opposite action” is a critical skill in changing patterns of thought, perception and emotion that are not working for you.

Lighten the load of your troubles by making tuning into humor a daily priority.

Give yourself choices to counter helplessness: Take back some control

A cardinal symptom of depression is “all or nothing” thinking. “I didn’t do well on this test…I am an utter failure!” There are many other ways to think about this situation.

Self-compassion, cognitive re-frames and active problem solving are critical tools you can use to give yourself choices in how you perceive, feel, think about and act in a particular situation.

Build positive memories

Positive emotions are not just temporary- they have long lasting impacts on the way our brains get wired.

When we build positive memories and enrich our bank of positive emotional memories, over time they help with a better physical health, resilience, optimism, counter the effects of painful experiences including depression, trauma and increase our problem solving abilities. Allowing yourself small pleasures and savoring them is also key to changing a negative mindset about yourself and your life.

Build activities that give you a sense of meaning and purpose.

Is there a core of meaning to your existence? – Something to live for that is above and beyond the problems you are tackling?

A powerful way to build a sense of purpose and meaning to alleviate your PTSD, depression or anxiety can include:

  • To serve/help others: to have people who need us provides a great sense of meaning and purpose. Volunteering, looking after animals, raising a family, looking after grandchildren are all good examples.

  • Re-learning through problem solving: being involved in activities that challenge and stretch us seem impossible with depression. But our brains are healthiest when challenged and stretched.

  • Go beyond you struggles: building a spiritual practice & prayer- Engaging in a spiritual practice, prayer or taking up a cause larger than yourself can be very healing.

Take that first step and give us a call! Dr. Priyanka would be happy to talk with you for a free 15 minute consultation to walk you through how we can help you! You can also contact us using our contact form accessible HERE

Dr. Priyanka Upadhyaya
Dr. Priyanka Upadhyaya

About the author

She is a NJ and NYS clinical psychologist with a passion for helping people create and live their best life. She brings together the art and science of change with passion, humor and a studied integration of various modalities to help her clients. Dr. Upadhyaya draws from evidence-based treatments (CBT, DBT, Mindfulness techniques, Psychodynamic and attachment focussed therapy to name a few), well known for symptom relief, restoring a sense of wellbeing and reducing overall stress.