If you are in recovery, chances are you have heard the words ‘coping skills’ or ‘coping mechanisms’. A quick google search will provide you with a plethora of coping skills that may or may not be suited for you. It can feel overwhelming trying to determine which skills would work best for your unique circumstances. It’s important to understand why coping skills are beneficial to your recovery and your overall well-being.
Although some people may benefit from reading a list of possible coping skills, it can be much more valuable to learn the ‘what’s, the ‘why’s, and the ‘how’s that come into play when adopting coping mechanisms.
What Are Coping Skills?
Coping skills are tools and techniques designed to help you to handle difficult emotions. They assist in decreasing stress, and they can help establish or maintain a sense of internal order when you’re in crisis. Coping mechanisms are strategies that help you stabilize your mind when you feel angry, anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed. They can also be great for people who may not be in distress, but who need assistance staying level-headed.
Coping mechanisms can be both simple tactics and habitual practices. Here are some techniques that are made up of simple, habitual practices you can utilize to help yourself cope:
These are techniques that help you concentrate on slow, deep breathing, and help you disengage from distracting negative thoughts or sensations. There are two main types of breathing patterns that a person can practice. They are:
- Diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing
- Thoracic (chest) breathing
When a person starts to feel anxious they tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. This type of pattern is thoracic breathing. When you engage in chest breathing, you can experience an upset in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, and other physical sensations. When this occurs, the body may signal a stress response, contributing to anxiety or even causing a panic attack.
With diaphragmatic breathing, a person engages in deep breaths. This type of breathing pattern occurs naturally when a person is in a deeply relaxed state of mind or a relaxed stage of sleep.
Mindfulness is the practice of consciously focusing your attention on what is presently happening, and accepting it without judgment. Examples can include sitting quietly while focusing on your breathing, acknowledging and accepting your emotions, or a practice called urge surfing. Urge surfing helps you cope with cravings and allows them to pass without incident. You become able to see and feel how your body reacts as cravings surface. Then you can replace the behavior of wishing the cravings would vanish with the certain knowledge that the cravings will subside.
Mindfulness exercises can look different for every person. Your goal is to be able to focus your attention on the present and to accept that moment for what it is, all while choosing to participate in your life and make the most of every situation. Useful mindfulness exercises can include:
- Taking a walk
- Cooking a meal
- Yoga or any form of exercise
- Drawing or other crafts
How Do I Know Which Coping Skill Will Work For Me?
This is a crucial question that many people ask, and it doesn’t have one right answer. Coping skills are unique to each person, and will work differently based on your circumstance. What works for your friend or family member may not help you. It often takes a period of trial and error to figure out which coping skill works best for any individual. Having a wide variety of coping skills allows you to utilize each one dependent on the situation you’re dealing with.
The Benefits of Coping Skills
Countless benefits will come once you have found healthy coping mechanisms to assist you when times get tough. Here are just a few examples;
- Being able to handle stress more effectively
- Higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem
- Minimizing health risks
- Lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression
- Learning new skills
- Enjoying a higher quality of life
Give yourself grace when exploring coping mechanisms. There is not a one size fits all approach, and no one is expecting you to have it all figured out right away. Although coping skills will not solve all your problems, they are wonderful tools that can help you in a wide variety of stressful situations. Developing a group of effective coping strategies helps you to learn more about yourself while you determine which methods work and which ones don’t.
Coping skills can help you achieve a higher quality of life by providing you with a set of skills that mitigate stress and negative emotions. Effective coping mechanisms are not just beneficial to people struggling with anxiety, depression, or anyone in any type of crisis, but are also recommended to those looking to feel more grounded. There are numerous types of coping skills a person can engage in, including breathing techniques, counting to ten, and mindfulness exercises. Knowing why certain strategies work for you can provide you with great insight that will help you decide which practices to adopt. Although it is not required, having multiple coping mechanisms can be beneficial to you as well. Having options gives you multiple choices during stressful situations. If you need help understanding the importance of coping skills, Everlast Recovery Centers can help. We provide insight and guidance towards building the life you want to live. Call us at 866-DETOX-25.