Whether you struggle with Dementors like depression and anxiety, traumatic stress, or general emotional overwhelm, these Harry Potter style coping skills can help.
I got into the series as an adult working the night shift in my 20’s. It offered a great escape from the boredom of vampire hours. It led to an obsession, which led to this post. And when I say obsession, I mean I’ve read each book at least 30 times, own all the movies, and if I had the money, the first place I’d go is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Plus I have a ridiculous amount of Potter paraphenalia considering I’m a nearly 30 year old woman. Yeah, don’t judge me…
So if you’re a Harry Potter nerd too, read on for these Magical Muggle Coping Skills. Not that your a Muggle. I’m sure your Hogwarts letter just got lost in the mail. 😉
The Patronus Charm: Emotional Strength
In case you need to be refreshed– the Patronus Charm is used to ward off dementors with the incantation: “Expecto Patronum!” To use it, the Wizard must use the positive emotion from a particularly strong, happy emotion.
When we are struggling with depression and anxiety or other emotional stress, it can feel like nothing good exists anymore. Your mind becomes overly focused on all of the difficult or painful things and creates a trap that is hard to get out of.
When that happens, we need balance. We need the reminder that hard times never last forever and that happiness can be found, even in the darkest of places (to quote Albus Dumbledore).
How to Use it
Identify the kind of emotional stress you are feeling and the emotion that would be the most helpful counter. So, if you are feeling down on yourself, feeling unsafe, or alone, etc…
Then look for a strong, positive memory that offers that counter. So, if you’re feeling insecure, look for a memory where you were proud of yourself. Feeling lonely, look for a memory where you felt loved and connected.
Hold on to the positive memory. You can draw it, write about it, tell someone about it. Whatever you need in order to keep it present and feeling solid.
It can also be super helpful to do this while you are walking. Walking helps stimulate our processing and can help us think more clearly.
The Room of Requirement: Safety
In case you don’t remember it, Hogwarts contained a secret room that Harry finds which will create whatever a person needs from it.
In the last book, students use the room to camp out and get away from the Death Eaters. The room provided them with places to sleep and a way to get regular food. It gave them safety.
When we struggles with emotional stress like depression, anxiety, or trauma triggers, it can compromise our feeling of safety. That sends us to an even darker, scarier place and we need a way to restore our sense of safety.
How to Use it
In your mind, create a place that you have full control over. Like the room of requirement, it can present you with anything you need or want there and get rid of anything you don’t.
Feel like it needs an electric fence around it? Put it there. Want to keep other people from ever being able to find it? Thankfully, the room of requirement is unplottable, so it doesn’t show on a map.
Keep adding what you need and putting up defenses to keep anything bad out until it feels just right and totally safe.
It’s helpful to visit this place even when you don’t need it, just to keep it strong and working. That way, when you really need it, it’s ready and prepared to help you feel safe!
The Riddikulus Charm: Re-framing Emotional Stress
Bogarts are magical creatures that turn into your deepest fear. The riddikulus charm helps you get rid of bogarts by forcing them to take the form of something you find funny. Laughter gets rid of the bogart.
I think this is a really great analogy for reframing our experiences. A reframe is a cognitive behavioral strategy that can be helpful with all kinds of emotional stress, depression and anxiety in particular.
Reframing an experience is basically seeing it in a different way. Like forcing Professor Snape to be dressed in your grandmother’s clothing. Muwahahaha!
In the real world, it might look like reframing critical feedback as something that can either teach you develop your skill further or a situation that is giving you the opportunity to practice being confident even when it’s hard.
How to Use it
When it comes to depression and anxiety, a reframe is often needed to help us shake the emotional stress. When your brain starts rolling something around that is making you feel low and nervous, look for a way to pull in the humor. This can also be helpful for painful memories from the past.
See the image or thought that has it’s claws in you, and look for a way to make it funny. Worried about a difficult conversation? That’s something I can relate to. See the other person dressed like Steve Urkle in a toga, sounding like he sucked on helium.
Not funny enough? Come up with your own! If it’s difficult to think of something that makes it funny, look for another, more helpful way to reframe that experience into a helpful coping skill.
The Protego Totalum Charm: Emotional Protection
Hermione Granger uses this charm in the last Harry Potter book while the three heroes are camping in the forest, looking for horcruxes. The charm is used as a protection to keep you safe. It acts like a shield!
When I feel vulnerable from emotional stress, I’ve often which there was a such thing to make my skin feel like a suit of armor against criticism or hurtful words/interactions.
That’s kind of what this coping skill is. It’s not a tangible suit of armor but a mental shield you can put up to help you keep negative energy and interactions out.
How to Use it
This is used more as a visualization. When you are feeling emotional stress and need a way to keep yourself protected, visualize the magical shield coming over you. Remember that sheer, translucent haze spreading?
See it covering you, strengthening you, and giving you that protective barrier that keeps you safe. I like to whisper “Protego totalum” to myself as I use this visualization.
Call me weird, but I also like to try to feel what it would feel like to actually have Protego Totalum as a protective shield. Getting yourself really into it and feeling it is what makes this coping skill work. It’s not enough to just say it in your head. You have to feel it.
Hey, kinda like Lupin told Harry to do with the Patronus spell!
Try Them Out!
Try them out and tell me what you think. These are some of my favorite coping skills for any kind of emotional stress, probably because Harry Potter is still an obsession of mine. That makes them all the more fun and interesting to use.
Whatever you’re dementors, be they depression and anxiety, traumatic triggers or emotional overwhelm, these magical coping skills are up for the challenge.
But also….these are only a sample of the possible Coping Skills for Emotional Stress that you could create from the Harry Potter series. What coping skills would you add?!
You tell me yours in the comments and I’ll tell you more of mine 😉😜