Coping Skills & Strategies


Deep breathing is an easy stress reliever that has numerous benefits for the body, including relaxing muscles and quieting the mind. Breathing exercises are especially helpful because you can practice them anywhere.

  • Be in a comfortable sitting or standing position. If seated, have your feet planted on the ground
  • Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your upper chest
  • Close your eyes if you are comfortable with that, but it’s fine to have them open
  • Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, send the breath down to your stomach and try to move the hand on your stomach out, while minimizing the movement in your chest
  • Exhale through your mouth or nose, noticing that the hand on your stomach sinks in as you empty the air out
  • Ideally, your breath is passing down through your chest to go lower into your diaphragm area
  • Repeat


Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can help relax tired and stressed bodies and minds and prepare you for a good night of sleep.  This tool can be used when dealing with anxiety, stress, sleep difficulties, depression, and overall well being.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation with Music


With practice, meditative practices can allow you to develop clarity in your thoughts and feelings, decrease your negative thoughts, and promote a sense of peacefulness and centeredness.

Guided Meditation for Detachment from Overthinking

5 of the Best Sleep Guided Meditations


Cognitive reframing, also known as cognitive restructuring, is a skill taught to individuals to notice negative and intrusive thoughts and actively work to challenge/change those thoughts.

Four steps to change your thinking:

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts. Often we do not realize how negatively we talk to ourselves.
  2. Notice when these thoughts typically occur. This allows you to anticipate and manage negative or untrue thoughts.
  3. Challenge negative thoughts. Asking a few questions can be helpful:
    • What would I tell a friend in this situation?
      Is there another way to look at this situation?
      What is the real evidence that my thoughts are true?
      What would my first step be to cope, if my worries turned out to be true?
  4. Replace negative and untrue thoughts with more realistic or helpful thoughts.

A helpful resource is a directory of mobile apps as listed by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). The ADAA does a wonderful job rating each app based on ease of use, effectiveness, personalization, interactive/feedback and research evidence.

Information provided in the Coping Skills & Strategies section sourced from Athletes Connected, University of Michigan

Page last modified February 26, 2021