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Coping Skills


Woohoo! Congrats on taking the first step to finding techniques help calm and reset when you need it.

When trying coping skills, it is important to try many techniques, different combinations and track how each one makes you feel.

Trying one that doesn't get the job done, that's ok! Skip and try another one. Confused about how to use a coping skill or if you are doing it "right"? Talk to your clinician about building your coping skills toolbox.

Practice these coping skills even when you do not need them so that when a stressful moment arises, you can increase the chance that you will remember to use your coping skill toolbox.


Distraction — absorb yourself in something else

Do a puzzle, draw a picture, give someone a call, watch TV, listen to a podcast, make a to-do list, try a new stretch, talk to

your plants, take a walk around the block, give your dog 15 new names, try creative makeup, research looseleaf tea.

PROS: Give yourself a break from mental overload. Do something enjoyable. A quick solution for a crisis of feelings.

CONS: You can’t rely on this for too long. It does not resolve any underlying issues. You may struggle to concentrate.

Grounding — refocus on your physical experience

Try the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique, try to notice a fragrance, slowly taste and savor food, walk barefoot in the grass, try to spot 15

unique colors around you, stretch out your muscles, make strange and exaggerated faces, slowly brush your hair.

PROS: Help to slow down or stop dissociation, like feeling numb of disconnected. Reduces physical anxiety symptoms.

CONS: Sometimes the effort of dissociating can be helpful - it is your brain’s strategy for protection!

Release — let go of tension and pent up feelings

Run down the block, take a cold shower, scream into the void (don t scare your neighbors!), sob so hard your shoulders

shake, watch some trashy TV and laugh wildly, blast some music and dance like you might never do in public.

PROS: Very effective for quickly building feelings, like anger or fear. Releases the pressure of overwhelming emotions.

CONS: Sometimes challenging as feelings are often consuming. Sometimes it feels weird or out of character.

Self-Love — show some compassion and kindness

Give yourself a manicure (throw in a hand massage!), straighten up your living space, cook a special meal, take a

relaxing bath, eat dinner in your bed, celebrate your accomplishments on social media, eat some bedtime cereal.

PROS: Be more generous to yourself, and treat yourself better. A great strategy for feelings of guilt and shame.

CONS: This can feel selfish, superficial, or doesn’t feel meaningful enough for the weight of the situation.

Challenge — reassess your thoughts and biases

Try to catch automatic thoughts and record them quickly. Reframe your thoughts in a neutral or more scientific way

(stick to facts instead of feelings). Imagine the advice you might give to a loved one. Just notice, don t judge.

PROS: Shift deep engrained negative thought-patterns and judgments. Using logic and rationality against emotion.

CONS: It is a big mental shift from an emotional wave to tempered analysis. Can easily judge oneself for thoughts.

Giving — let your cup flow over in support of others

Smile at strangers, give your neighbor a kind “good morning!” wave, volunteer with a local organization, support a social

justice initiative, sneak a sweet note to someone, be silly on the street for someone else’s entertainment, crack a joke.

PROS: Reminds us of the values of others. Exposes us to others and sets an example of empathy to apply to yourself too.

CONS: Can expose uncomfortable privileges. Many individuals over expend themselves trying to support everyone else.

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