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How to Build Your Coping Skill Toolbox

Coping isn’t one-size-fits-all… find the right tools for you to be prepared for any situation, time, or place!

Think back to a time when you felt sad, stressed, or anxious… Did you talk to someone you trust, like your best friend? Did you try to distract yourself by scrolling through Twitter or Instagram? Did you try to process your thoughts and feelings through writing, music, or a TikTok?

These are just a few examples of coping skills. Coping skills are the behaviors, thoughts, and actions we use to deal with life stressors or a threatening situation. Everyone needs coping skills, but they’re not one-size-fits-all. 

You may be thinking, “Gee, that sounds a lot like self-care.” And, you’d be right! A good self-care plan should include some healthy coping strategies. But in reality, self-care and coping skills are not the same thing.

So, what’s the difference? Well, self-care is any healthy activity you do to support your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. It’s something you should do regularly to make sure you’re always on point! You can learn more about self-care here.

On the other hand, coping skills are used when you’re feeling high-key stressed and struggling to deal with it. You may have learned some coping skills from others, like your family, or you may even do them naturally. Coping skills tend to fall under two main categories: problem-focused strategies and emotion-focused strategies. 

Problem-focused coping skills use active ways to tackle the situation that caused the stress in the first place. Some examples are working harder, applying what you learned from the situation to your daily life, or talking to someone with a direct impact on the situation. While emotion-focused coping skills are used to try to handle the feelings caused by the problem situation instead. Examples include seeking social support, blaming yourself or others, and avoiding or denying there’s a problem.

Some coping skills can be unhealthy, like using drugs or alcohol, procrastinating, or placing blame. Others may work in some situations, but not others. That’s why just one coping skill isn’t enough. Try brainstorming a variety of healthy coping skills you can use in different situations, no matter where you are.

For more information on coping skills, visit Encourage Hope & Help.

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