Coping skills is an important part of improving our mental health and decreasing our stress levels. The goal with coping skills is to gather a variety of techniques in order to build a toolbox in which you can use to deal with difficult thoughts and emotions depending on the situation. Not one skill is better than another, but some may work better in different situations. Kind of like how a hammer is needed in one scenario and a screwdriver is needed in another. It is important to find coping skills that work specifically for you, and it is important to distinguish which skill is appropriate for the situations where you personally run into stress. This series of posts is to help you distinguish the different categories of coping skills so that you can identify the ones that work best for you when you need them. Let’s look at it like you're shopping around for tools at your local hardware store so we can build up your supply, so when you run into a problem you have the right tool to fix it.
Coping skills tends to be an umbrella term for ways in dealing with stress. Coping skills can be narrowed down to different categories in order to simplify which skill is needed when addressing a certain situation. There are going to be times that a specific coping tool will work much better than another, and will be more effective in managing your internal thoughts and emotions.
To give an example, if you are having an anxiety attack you may want to use a different coping skill than you would if you were feeling depressed for several days. Using a skill that focuses on breathing will help reduce the anxiety and be better suited to help you get your balance. If you were to try to use a tool to process the anxiety at first, it could take a lot longer to help you find your balance. In the moment you may get more stuck in your head with trying to process the scenario and it can spiral you down even further. You first want to find your balance, and then there will be time to process what is going on in your head later. When looking at a coping tool to deal with feelings of depression that have been lasting a bit you may want to use more of a processing tool. If you used a coping skill that just distracted you, it would not be getting to the root of the problem and you would just be kicking the can down the road, leaving you to deal with it another day. But if you were to use a processing skill, such as writing your thoughts out in a journal, it could be helpful in understanding what it is that is contributing to you feeling depressed. This in turn allows you to address the challenge and move forward.
There are multiple categories of coping skills which we would like to outline. These include processing, self-care, grounding, mindfulness, and distraction. Within each of these skills we would like to define what the general coping skill is, how they work, when are times they are useful and times they are not useful, and some specific examples of that skill. We also like to add a bit on how to implement some of the skills so that you can start putting them in to practice.
One important thing to note is that in order to best pick out which tools work best for you, as well as learning how to best implement skills and using them correctly, it is best to seek out a licensed professional. They are trained in how to help you with identifying and using the skills which are going to be most helpful for you personally. There are some skills which we did not add to this website just because it is important that you are practicing them with a trained professional in order to know how to correctly use them. If you are interested in seeing a therapist we would be more then happy to visit with you.