10 Coping Skills To Help You Manage Life’s Stressors
One of the first things I talk with my clients about in my private practice is healthy coping skills because they are the foundation to leading a successful life. Coping skills are the methods a person utilizes to deal with life’s stressors and that is why they are so important. Without coping skills we would not be able to handle all of the curveballs that life throws our way. We would most likely be a mess of emotions with low self-esteem — and who wants that!? In order to make progress on your goals, therapeutic or otherwise, it is important to have a foundation of a range of healthy coping skills you can use in your day-to-day life.
The Good News…
The good news is you already have some coping skills in your toolbox! Think back to the last time you were stressed out – what did you do? Whatever it was, that was a coping skill!
…And The Bad
However, coping skills are not always healthy. There are some coping skills that are just flat-out unhealthy, such as smoking cigarettes, which is bad for your health, and then there are some coping skills that can be unhealthy if used too often, such as showering, which is unhealthy for your skin and your hair.
So, what are some healthy coping skills that you can use?
1. Talk With Someone You Trust
I know what you’re thinking, “Really!? A mental health therapist is encouraging me to talk it out? How original!” I know, I know! But, trust me, it works! Sometimes the act of just telling someone else or just saying it out loud can really help you deal with how you are feeling and reduce your stress and anxiety. Other times you may want advice, you may need to bounce ideas off of someone, or you may need to think things through out loud. Further, there are times when you need to hear that what you’re going through is normal and/or fixable. Whatever the case, talking to someone you trust is an excellent option.
2. Take A Break
It is OK to need a break from the situation you are facing! Sometimes you need space to calm down or clear your head. Choose a timeframe to take a break for and then come back to the issue later. For smaller situations a few minutes may be appropriate and for larger situations you may need to take more time. Just make sure you come back to the issue later on.
3. Listen To Music
Music has a tendency to lift our spirits and make us feel better. Next time you are struggling, put on your favorite song and lose yourself in it. Bonus points are awarded if you sing and/or dance along!
4. Go For A Walk/Jog/Run
No matter your fitness level, get outside and walk, jog, or run around the block! Take in the scenery and get some fresh air.
Similar to talking to someone you trust, journaling is another great outlet. You can journal about what it is that you are going through. Or, you can journal about other topics. Journaling can help in a variety of ways with a variety of emotions. If you are confused about a situation, journaling can help you organize your thoughts. If you are overwhelmed with things to do, journaling can help you organize your tasks. And, if you are feeling very strong emotions, journaling can help you let them out through writing.
6. Clean Something/Organize Something
If you are naturally a person who enjoys cleaning and/or organizing, this coping skill will be a great fit for you. On the other hand, if cleaning or organizing is on your list of things to do, using it as a coping skill will really help emotionally as you will be tackling two things at once – managing your emotions and getting something on your list completed!
7. Plan Your Dream _______________
I am a huge fan of vision boards and things similar in nature, like planning for your dreams. Whether it is your dream vacation, dream home, or dream job, taking some time to plan out all of the details can be a great coping skill. This coping skill does not stop at filling in the blank. Really take the time to plan out every detail of your dream.
8. Make A Vision Board
I told you I was a huge fan of vision boards! Create a board representing your goal where you display pictures, quotes, and anything else that is related to your goal and is inspiring to you. Doing this will increase your focus on your goal and will help you achieve it, while also helping you to get your mind off of your stressful emotions.
9. Make A List Of Things You Like About Your Life
Literally sit down and write out a list of things you like about your life. The list can be short or it can be long, but write it! Focusing on the positives in our life can help when we are struggling emotionally as it shifts our focus from negative with no sight of success to positive with success within reach.
10. Do A Random Act Of Kindness
This is a win-win. Not only do you get to brighten someone else’s day, but you will feel better about yourself when you help someone else – even if you don’t see the results, for example if you pay for the person in line behind you at the drive-thru. Why not make the world a better place while cheering yourself up? You never know, you might even cause a chain reaction!
What are your favorite go-to coping skills that you use in your daily life?
This list is not all-inclusive – there are many more great coping skills out there and I want to hear about them!