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Unconventional Coping Mechanisms: Our defense against life’s adversities.

Written by Jir Dara Akçan

Our lives are filled with unexpected ups and downs throughout our lives. To combat these hard times we need solutions that decrease the effect of these events on our mental health, making us more resilient.

Exploring Unconventional Coping Strategies:

Even though the value of traditional methods of coping like sharing your thoughts with a friend is undoubtedly too big to ignore, Let’s take a look at the lesser-known methods of coping such as;

Laughter Yoga:

Laughter yoga uses a series of movements and exercises to make the person deliberately laugh. It is believed that simulated laughter can have the same effects as those natural laughter. It was discovered first in Mumbai, India by Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician, in 1995. He believes that learning to laugh whenever you want can aid you in dealing with hard situations by conjuring optimism. Also since laughter yoga uses controlled breathing to initiate a laugh it helps with stress by allowing greater oxygen intake which enables the parasympathetic nervous system, the system that your body uses to relax. [1]

Forest Bathing (Shinrin Yoku):

Forest Bathing first made its appearance in Japan in the 1980s under the name of shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”). The goal was two-sided: to present an eco escape from technological burnout and to inspire people to embrace and secure the country’s forests. This type of therapy was quickly embraced by the Japanese. After a decade, researchers started to research this topic and its physiological benefits,

supporting the saying that spending time in nature is good for us. Even though Japan is credited for the term Shinrin-Yoku, the practice is not new. A lot of cultures throughout time knew the importance of nature to human health.

But what is Forest bathing? It is a wide term that can be used for just walking in any natural environment while observing and connecting to what is around you. [2]

Art Therapy:

Art therapy can be seen as a bridge between a patient and the therapist. Patients can express and interpret their emotions and ideas. Art therapists use this technique with the patient to explore the conflicts, and problems that are causing trouble in the patient's life.

Art therapy began in the 1940s and became popular in the 70’s. Much similar to other expressive therapies like dance therapy or music therapy, it uses creativity. [3]

Animal-Assisted Therapy:

Animal-assisted therapy uses animals as well as a therapist to explore your feelings.

Using animals in therapy can help make patients feel at ease. It also can help therapists by helping them observe the behaviors of both the patient and the animal.

as one of the members of the BACP (British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy) Sarah Urwin says: “Animals are a mood lifter and an icebreaker. They are honest, empathetic, and naturally authentic. They don’t judge and they’re not vengeful. They live in the moment.” [4]

Scent And Aromatherapy:

Aromatherapy is an interesting type of treatment that uses natural plant extracts to induce health. It is also known as essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy is seen as both science and medicine. As far as we know, aromatherapy has been used by humans for thousands of years by the residents of ancient China, Egypt, India, etc. These people incorporated aromatic plants in resins, balms, and oils. These mixtures were used for both medical and religious purposes. They were known to have effects on both psychological and physical health. In the 19th century, the medical sector became more established and doctors started to use chemical drugs instead of natural mixtures. However, The French and German doctors used both natural therapy and chemical therapy together. The term “Aromatherapy” was coined by René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French perfumer and chemist. He first used the term in his book which was published in 1937.

Life’s challenges are an essential part of being a human. And the way we deal with them, be it traditional or unconventional, can enhance our lives significantly. Always remember, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to coping. One method might not work for you but that should not be a factor to stop trying to improve your health.


  1. DavidsoncFN, K., & CPT. (2021, January 8). Laughing yoga: What is it and does it work?Healthline. [1]

  2. SUNNY FITZGERALD. (2019, October 18). Forest bathing: What it is and where to do it. National Geographic. [2]

  3. staff. (2023, July 11). What is art therapy? | Psychology's Comprehensive Online Resource. [3]

  4. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. (n.d.). What is animal-assisted therapy? | Types of therapy. [4]

  5. Cronkleton, E. (2019, March 8). What is aromatherapy and how does it help me? Healthline. [5]


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