What are coping skills?
Different than defense mechanisms, coping skills are strategies that people use to help manage difficult or painful situations or emotions. Big life events can cause stress, and sometimes we need a little help figuring out how to manage how we feel about something, and what we can do to cope with the situation in a more positive and productive way. Coping skills are not intended to help you run away from your problems but rather to get you into a better mindset to properly assess your situation, emotions, and how you want to handle your situation.
Why learn coping skills?
Coping skills or strategies help us adjust and keep a positive mindset when we’re managing difficult events. By learning healthy coping skills, we’re preparing ourselves for things like life changes, stress, anxiety, depression, and more. Knowing which coping strategies work effectively for you in different situations is a great way to protect yourself from feeling worse, and to maintain your overall emotional balance.
Coping strategies recommended by our professionals
Different coping strategies can work more, or less, effectively for different people. Tactics that work really well for some people might not work for others. Often an effective coping strategy will include a combination of skills and tactics.
Some common coping tactics are:
- Deep breathing
- Asking others for help
- Making to-do lists
- Regular physical activity
- Writing or journaling
- Setting and maintaining personal boundaries
Your therapist might also recommend trying different coping strategies than you’d initially assume would work for you, so getting a professional outside opinion that’s tailored to your needs is always recommended.