Mental Health

Living One Day at a Time as a Coping Mechanism

It is important to set goals and hopes for our future because it keeps us motivated and productive but sometimes things get in the way or happen unexpectedly.

Sometimes taking it one day at a time is just what we need.

Perhaps someone is having a really low period in their depression and doesn’t even want to live to see tomorrow.

Maybe someone is going through something tough, like losing a friend or the death of a loved one, and looking at the future is hard for them.

Maybe they just need time to get over something and the only way to do that is to live with it day by day until it slowly gets easier.

There have been quite a few periods in my life, where I have had to put my future on hold to deal with the present. I’ve been suicidal, I’ve lost friends, and fallen for people who didn’t like me back. There have been times where I have literally said “don’t even ask me about tomorrow because I just don’t know what I’ll be like.” I’m sure many people have had times where they couldn’t think about tomorrow.

Living one day at a time is one of my strongest coping mechanisms. Here are some tips on how you can do that:

  1. Pace yourself. It doesn’t do any good to overwhelm yourself. In fact, it can cause more harm than good. Try and tackle things at a slow pace, step by step. Also, if you’re struggling with something, attempting to rush to get through it or to get over it sometimes makes the process even harder. “If you are too hard on yourself or expect too much of yourself then you can end up exhausting [and overwhelming] yourself.”[1]
  2. Set priorities. Setting priorities can help you figure out the things you need to tackle first, as well as the things you can put off.
  3. Go step by step. Once you recognize that there’s a problem you need to fix or something you need to get over, it is best to work it out step-by-step, day-by-day. “You cannot just dive in and expect a quick fix.”[2] If you do, you might not be giving it the attention it needs and deserves.
  4. Live in the moment. Sometimes we’re so caught up with our problems and worries that we miss, or are less focused on what’s going on around us. We miss wonderful moments and opportunities that might never be repeated. Living in the moment also helps us to get through one hard moment at a tome.
  5. Pay attention to immediate concerns. It helps “to slow down and focus on what needs to be done in one moment or in that day”[3] then you can go from there.
  6. Ride out feelings. “If you give yourself time for those feelings of anger or sadness to run their course then you can come back to having a positive mind.”[4] Give yourself the time and days you need to feel everything. If you allow yourself to feel however you feel in the moment, you give yourself the chance to deal with those emotions. Shutting out your feelings won’t do any good and it will only slow down the process of getting over whatever you’re struggling with.
  7. Block out what ifs. “Avoid having a ‘tomorrow focused’ mindset. If you focus on the day you’re in then most what ifs become obsolete.”[5]
  8. Spend time with friends. Spending time with friends will make your days easier and help you forget about the struggles you are facing, even just for a bit.
  9. Literally wake up in the morning then go to bed at night. By just doing that, you made it through another day! Your difficult or hurt feelings may just fade as the days go by.

Key ideas from articles by writers for Promises Treatment Centers and WhatNext.


[1] McNabb, B. (2014). What does it mean to live one day at a time? WhatNext. Retrieved from

[2] “Best Ways to Approach Living One Day at a Time”. (2012). Promises Treatment Centers. Retrieved from

[3] McNabb, 2014

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

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