Have you ever poured your heart out to someone about a major crisis in your life only to have them offer what seems like a rather silly suggestion? They give you a sympathetic "There, there," and then follow it up with, "You know what would help? You just need to get some more sleep." When you hear those kinds of recommendations, you usually leave the conversation thinking that the person didn't hear a thing you just said. You told them about heartbreak, profound sadness, hopelessness, and they didn't really seem to relate to what you said.

Believe it or not, sometimes those tiny little suggestions for how to cope with your problem can actually keep your head above water while you're floundering.

Let's say you're overwhelmed with schoolwork, friendship drama, and now you're experiencing some random depression. You're talking to your mom about it one evening while she's cooking, and without looking up, she says, "Well how about you go for a walk?" What?!? You're trying to communicate the pain that's wrenching your soul, and your mother just tells you to go for a walk.

Guess what? Listen to your mother! Don't assume she is disregarding your sadness – she's trying to tell you what to do with it. After you're finished talking to her, you have some options: go for a walk, or trudge off to your room, turn off the lights, and lie on the floor weeping. If you pick the latter option, you will just keep wallowing in your sadness. As you're lying there by yourself thinking about how miserable you are, has it really helped the situation?

Instead of sulking, try to throw yourself into an activity, like taking a walk. Let's be realistic, is this going to be the happiest, most energetic walk you've ever taken? Probably not. But when you get back home, you're likely going to feel much better than you would if you sat in your room and cried. You're not necessarily going to feel like you're on top of the world, but you'll feel better.

Bottom-line is this: take time to be sad, but then take action!

Next, how to figure out which coping skill to choose…

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