Coping is extremely individual and everyone has different skills that work the best for them. This post is based on the Top 10 coping skills that are taught and emphasized throughout most therapy practices. Click here to read about the different coping categories. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and Talk Therapy are most commonly used in modern practices. DBT is best for personality disorders, CBT is best for anxiety, while Talk Therapy is best for Depression. Remember, each coping skill can be individualized towards your needs and there is no right or wrong way to cope.
Please contact a professional or go to your local emergency room if you are struggling with safety.
The Top Coping Skills
1. Coping Box
2. STOP Skill
5. Journaling, checking the facts, and writing down problem situations
6. Making connections and Interpersonal relationships
9. Completing tasks, and time-management
10. Reaching Out
The STOP skill is one of my favourites in DBT. I really noticed how helpful it was when I posted about it in #BPDChat on Twitter and the response towards the skill was incredible. STOP is a skill that means exactly that…stop! No matter what is happening, stop what you are doing and lay down or sit, if your crying don’t try to stop it and let it flow if your struggling with anxiety try wrapping a blanket around yourself, whatever it is simply stop and let yourself experience the emotion. This is great for distress tolerance, personally, I like to lay down on the floor in the fetal position, if I have a blanket near me I wrap it around my shoulders and hold it tight. I personally like to have my head on the floor and I like the feeling of the floor since it makes me feel grounded. Whatever helps you is perfect, all you have to do is breathe.
Having a sense of accomplishment can go a long way for those who suffer from mental illness. It can be hard to accomplish what normal people do every day for many of us. I only have a 60% functionality compared to regular society, therefore, it’s extremely difficult for me to complete many things a normal person does daily. I’m not ashamed of this because I have created a life for myself that I know I can accomplish and thrive in. Completing tasks is a great coping skill because it gives life purpose. If you also struggle with daily functions – that’s ok! Accomplishing things can be small, you don’t have to get your undergraduate degree! Take a shower, brush your teeth, journal, pet your cat, text a friend, try making one goal a day and if you can’t accomplish that goal – don’t be mad at yourself because trying in itself is enough.
A coping box is a combination of many skills such as mindfulness, interpersonal relationships, reflection, self-care, distraction, etc. To make a coping box, think of your favourite coping strategies and make reminders to put into your box, put some self-care in the box with the senses such as smell, touch, and taste, try to put some distraction within the box such as colouring, or paper to rip. This is one of my favourite coping strategies to date.
Click here to learn how to make your very own coping box.
Self-care is a practice that should be used by everyone on a daily basis because everyone deserves to take some time out of their day to care for themselves. The benefits of self-care include relaxation and it silently contributes to completing tasks to the best of your ability. Taking time to stop and be mindful can help the brain rid some of its clutter and create a space for ideas, practices, and peace. You can’t give it your all if you leave yourself less.
Creativity is an incredible skill for people who struggle with mental health issues. If you look back in history, some of the greatest contributions to society were made by people who struggle with mental illness…
Emily Dickinson – Poet
Lord Byron – Poet
Princess Diana – Politician
Albert Einstein – Scientist
Vincent Van Gough – Artist
Amy Winehouse – Singer
President Lincoln – Politician
When I was younger, people were shocked at my ability to write creatively and as I grew up my creativity only became stronger. A while ago, I was told that I should channel my depression, anger, sadness, fear, and all emotions into something creative. I started writing lyrics and creating music which helped me grow into the man I am today. Try channelling your struggle into something positive and maybe your name will go down in history.
I’ve mentioned distraction in several of the previous coping skills. Distraction has one of the best outcomes for those who suffer from impulse control because it allows the mind to focus on something other than that impulse. Distraction can be very hard in the beginning but if it is practised regularly it can have amazing outcomes (distraction and creativity go well together). Some distraction tools include colouring, watching funny Youtube videos, going for a walk, journaling, cleaning, cooking, etc.
Journaling is one of the most widely known coping skills, some people tend to think that it’s a little corny but journaling is classic for a reason – it works! There are many different strategies for journaling such as journaling about your day, checking the facts, journaling your emotions, planning your day, recording mindfulness, etc. Whatever works for you is perfect.
I put interpersonal relationships in the top 10 coping skills because it’s a very strong skill that often holds more power than it’s given. Being able to talk and connect with the people you love is incredibly important for giving life purpose and helping combat depression. If you don’t have many or even any interpersonal relationships then try to look at groups around your community such as drop-in day therapy, Alcoholics Anon (AA) or Narcotics Anon (NA) if you are struggling with addiction, or talk to your local mental health community agent.
Exercise is a great distraction skill. It allows the endorphins to run throughout the body while allowing space for physical exertion. Exercise is a great skill if you are experiencing anger because it allows a release that can’t be found with much else.
Reach out to your community! 1 in 5 people struggle with mental illness, you are not alone. Try volunteering, joining a club at school, join a sports team, talk to connect with your coworkers, message an old friend, talk to family, get a pet, etc. If you reach out I promise you will grab onto something.