Finding Coping Skills that Work

Coping skills are an important way to manage mood, stress, and difficult emotions. People always talk about how useful coping skills are, but often fail to mention that it can be difficult to find coping skills that actually work for each individual person. Everyone has unique needs; something that helps one person feel better may not work as well for someone else. Sometimes even when we do have strategies that work well for us, particularly difficult or stressful situations can arise that render our go-to skills useless.

One way to ensure that you have an arsenal of coping skills in your back pocket at all times is to make a list. Brainstorming coping skills ahead of time – before you find yourself in crisis – can help you down the road when you are feeling too overwhelmed to even begin thinking about how to help yourself feel better. A great way to do this is to make a list of coping skills that have worked for you before and some new ones you feel open to trying.

You can organize your list however you feel it would help you most in the future. One idea is to categorize coping skills by levels of distress. For example, you might choose to use a stoplight color scheme, where red coping skills are ones you use when you are the most distressed, while green coping skills may be for times that you are feeling stressed out but are not yet in crisis mode. Yellow coping skills would fall somewhere in between.

You can personalize your coping skills as much or as little as you would like. Some people prefer to just write “call a friend” on their list, while others might want to list out names of specific friends to reach out to. You can include details about specific breathing exercises you prefer, books you like to read, recipes you like to cook, or favorite TV shows and movies that help you unwind.

Once you have a list of coping skills, make sure that it is accessible to you in times of need. You can create a list in a note on your phone, write skills on Popsicle sticks to keep in a jar on your desk, or even make a collage representing your coping skills to hang on your wall.

The key to coping skills is finding coping skills that work for YOU!

What are your favorite coping skills? Are there any new ones you’ve been wanting to try? Share down below!

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: We look forward to talking to you!

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