If there's one thing that's certain in this life, it's that everyone is going to experience uncomfortable emotions. Change in the workplace, loss of a loved one, difficult relationships, or unexpected life events are all common causes of emotional distress that can lead to an increase of anxiety and depression. While such circumstances are unavoidable, how we deal with these emotional stressors is completely within our control.
At the current time of this blogpost, thousands are still working from home due to COVID-19. With such a change in routine, many people are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and stress. Perhaps you're one of these people who is still adjusting to a quarantined lifestyle. If so, learning new coping skills could be a healthy way to navigate your new work life balance.
Along with an essential list of coping skills that you can start using today, this article will describe what coping skills are, why they're important, how you can develop them yourself, and more.
What Are Coping Skills?
According to VerywellMind.com, coping skills are behaviors that can help you "tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful situations in life." An example would be playing an instrument to keep your mind from venturing into anxious thoughts. Coping behaviors can be developed unconsciously and and are often learned from an early age. If one's parents exercise after encountering a stressful situation, it's likely that they, too, exercise as a means of coping with stress. Though people's reasons for working out differ, this would be one example of how coping strategies can be learned.
Why Are Coping Skills Important?
Put simply, coping skills help us deal with the uncomfortable emotions and stress we so often deal with on a day to day basis. Without them, we're prone to over thinking situations, over exaggerating problems, and behaving irrationally. Healthy coping skills allow us to counteract stress, think clearly, and feel better emotionally.
The List of Coping Skills
With no further ado, here is a useful list of coping skills that you can use today to reduce anxiety and stress.
Diversions - while not an absolute solution, a diversion coping skill helps you avoid irrational thoughts and distract you temporarily until you can think clearly. Examples include:
Picking up a hobby
Playing an instrument
Reading a book
Listening to music
Playing with your pet
Solving a puzzle
Cleaning your room
Cognitive Coping Skills - these help you identify toxic thinking traps and reverse a negative thought process. A few to try are:
Memorize a meaningful quote
Weigh pros and cons of a decision
Adopt a positive mindset in new situations
Practice self-monitoring (awareness of a problem)
Cognitive restructuring (change the way you think about a problem)
Reward yourself upon task completion/goal achievement
Create a list of things you're thankful for
Social Coping Skills - involving a therapist, friend, or loved one can help you more accurately identify a problem and provide objective support and advice. Here are some examples:
Help your neighbor
Talk with a friend
Learn when to say "no"
Using humor to diffuse a situation
Encouraging a friend
Physical Coping Skills - these are bodily coping strategies that we can practice to minimize undo stress. They could be:
Minimizing caffeine intake
Eating healthy foods
Reduce sugar intake
The Truth About Coping Skills and How to Develop Them
Everyone is unique in how they handle stressful, uncomfortable situations. A coping strategy that works for your best friend may not be effective for yourself. This is why it's important to know how to develop your own coping strategy that works best for you. Measure your experimentation with different coping skills by documenting how you felt after using them or asking a trusted friend how you handled a situation. This will help you determine which skills are best for your personal stress-management style.
It's also important to note that coping skills are not always the end all be all when it comes to solving the problem at hand. Diversions, for example, can be helpful for initially distracting yourself from irrational or negative thoughts, but it is not the end of the coping process. Constantly using diversions as a means of avoiding anything that makes you uncomfortable is not a healthy way to handle stress. Instead, additional coping mechanisms are often needed to
Unhealthy Coping Skills to Avoid!
Not all coping skills are healthy. While they may bring a temporary sense of relief and comfort, these coping strategies can negatively hurt you in the long run:
Yelling at others
Throwing temper tantrums
Catastrophizing (letting negative thoughts run rampant and compound in growth)
Develop Coping Strategies With A Counselor's Help
If you're neck deep in a stressful life situation, seeking outside help from a counselor is a wise investment. Anxiety, anger, and depression are all common conditions that can result from stressful circumstances, but they are treatable. A therapist is professionally trained to help you learn to cope with whatever emotional stressors may be in your life so that you can maintain your mental health well-being. Though you will never be able to control what life throws at you, you can always control how you react to it.
At Fuller Life Counseling Partners, we prioritize your mental health by equipping you with a personalized coping strategy that works best for you. We understand how uncomfortable the stressors of this life can be, and we want to show you how you can overcome the seemingly untamable anxiety that comes from it. If you're interested in letting us help you but have some questions of your own, get in touch with us here and fill out our contact form. We look forward to speaking with you!