Coping skills are as you’ve likely assumed, skills you learn to cope with difficult times in your life. There are coping skills that are best in urgent situations and other coping skills that are more designed for long term benefits.
As an example; if you were to land a job that requires public speaking and that is a challenge for you, you may need to implement coping skills to use at the time of your speeches. You may picture the audience naked, take some deep breaths and/or start your speech off with a joke (so long as it is appropriate to do so!). More long term coping skills may look like you practicing your speeches with a mirror or someone you trust, writing down what you want to say or creating a mantra like “I am very capable of giving this speech and I will rock it!”.
Bare in mind that not all coping mechanisms are healthy or productive. Using substances to cope is risky. Medication abuse can lead to a multitude of side effects and addiction (which obviously comes with their own need for coping skills).
Alcohol is a depressant and also carries the risk of developing dependency. With moderation and care, consuming alcohol amongst good company in good spirits may be beneficial. However, being sad or angry and drinking alone or in poor company is more likely to make your condition or situation worse. Even nicotine and overuse of caffeine are likely to carry negative consequences.
Choose coping skills that are healthy and work to benefit you as well as making sure you choose ones you will actually implement and practice. Collecting journals and art supplies if you are unlikely to actually use them is not beneficial. It is better to work with what you already have and know you will put in an effort to utilize.
Breathing, alongside meditation are go-tos when talking about coping. Breathing is something we all already do and normally are able to regulate and master.
A good friend of mine shared with me the phrase “Smell the flowers. Blow out the birthday candles.”. I’ve found this useful for myself as well as both of my daughters. Becoming aware of your breaths is the first step towards utilizing measured breathing to relax your mind and center yourself.
For me personally, I find it extremely useful to carry a bullet journal to track the thousands of thoughts that muddle up my mind. Having indexed organization of obligations, events, goals and other important information is relieving and easy for me to use. It is one of the ways I cope with the often hectic task of running a household.
Sometimes all we need to cope is to take time to gather our thoughts. Whether it be taking a day off to relax and enjoy ourselves or taking a short walk, taking a break allows us to take a step back from a situation and reevaluate.
I will also make note that if you are struggling with thoughts and feelings that feel out of your control, you may benefit from therapy. I believe it is entirely underrated to have someone to privately express yourself to and receive useful feedback. Therapists are an invaluable resource.
There are many options for coping skills and I only touched on a few. Here’s a list of some of the best I’ve found:
- Carry an item that relaxes you (worry stones are a good option)
- Spend time with pets
- Play a game
- Clean something (completing cleaning tasks is very therapeutic although it is something we avoid)
- Research topics you want to learn more about
- Hold someone’s hand or share a hug
- Talk to someone you trust
- Count your blessings
- Pray (practice spiritual beliefs)
- Spend time in nature
- Focus on pleasant things in your surroundings
- Listen to music
- Daydream responsibly (not during an important meeting)
Remember that coping skills take practice to master. Perseverance is key.
Have a comment or question? Leave me a comment below!