Coping Skills

"Coping skills" is a term that I hear a lot in therapy. It's also a term that totally flummoxed me. I'm having anxiety so bad that I want to literally claw my way out of my skin and you tell me to do a crossword? Thanks, but I think I'll use that pencil to gouge out my own eyeballs.

Of course crossword puzzles don't help panic attacks when you're in the moment. But the idea is to start using your coping skills before you get to the I-wanna-be-like-Oedipus-and-blind-myself-with-a-stick stage. I just needed help figuring out what the hell a coping skill was, anyway. I had several that reliably decreased anxiety and improved my mood, but they were pretty self-destructive. I got worksheets with ideas, some of which were useful and others of which didn't jive with me at all. Paint my nails? I don't know that I own nail polish!

However, the lovely Grey Thinking has come to our rescue with a series of posts on underrated coping skills that are, in my mind, spot on and really fantastic.

Underrated Coping Skill 1: Card Stores
Underrated Coping Skill 2: Bulletin Boards
Underrated Coping Skill 3: Kudos Charts
Underrated Coping Skill 4: Crafting
Underrated Coping Skill 5: DVDs

As well, Dr. Joy Jacobs recently posted a list of Priceless Stress Relief Tips compiled by a patient of hers to help her cope with the recovery process.

So what's your favorite (positive!) coping skill? Why does it help you?

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Anonymous said...

Research. Google skillz=coping skills.

FuguSushi said...

I play the piano or sax. Apparently I hated music all these years but I secretly like them.

I also get obsessed with issues that aren't related to me. Gay marriage, abortion rights, etc.

Or I watch comedy/movies/read novels.

During the worst of my depression I read 600 books a year.

True story.

FuguSushi said...

Oh... right, in addition to those... I obsess over finances and money. I check my checking account and log all my expenses in different categories to the point of OCD.

Watching money in my bank account grow gives me an odd sense of security and satisfaction.

It's like it's telling me if things get back again I have all this money to fund my escape so I can just take off.

Kim said...

My #1 favorite coping skill is playing/napping/whatever with my cats. After that, reading, watching a DVD, or writing (just emails can do it for me).

Anonymous said...

As a (proud) DBT Graduate I have a lever arch folder full of "coping skills" *sigh*

But my #1 has to be crochet. When I am past the point of sudoku or reading, I have to do something with my hands. Crochet + cartoons = stress reduced Keira :)

Anonymous said...

I've always found positive coping skills difficult. Like you say, they're really hard to remember to do when you're in the moment. And having read that I realise I still forget to use them. . .

Love these ones though. Like one of the card store suggestions, one reason could be that you're just thinking about something completely different!

I am most taken with the kudos charts idea. My 'to do' list is forever expanding and at the end of the day I feel completely useless if I haven't done everything. This idea is great! Seven things and seven things only! (if that's the number you choose) Yup seven important things, one day, I like that. I would feel like i'm achieving something daily.

Cathy (UK) said...

I play loud music (classical or pop) and drown out the 'noise' of anxiety in my head...

I play with my kitties...

I absorb my mind in learning something new...

A therapist suggested knitting... but I was so bad at it... grrr...

KristineM said...

Carrie, I treasure your post! I guess I don't need to learn coping skills (lucky me), but my D definitely does since her anxiety is off the charts. Your points of view often help me understand my D better. She'd be right there with you gouging out her eyeballs. I think I'll share this one with her!

KristineM said...

Ooops, I forgot. My D has MAJOR sensitivities about bad things happening to eyes, so I guess she'd join you in clawing her way out of her skin, Carrie.

The Thrifty Book Nerd said...

Going to the library is my coping. The silence and the books always calm me down.

Girl. said...

my coping skill is playing the sims 3.
sad, but true. haha.
it distracts me from everything, i get to control other peoples lives on the screen.
my game crashed this morning... so i turned to my second coping skill -looking at blogs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Carrie :-)

And Katie, I just have to say that I can definitely see the Sims 3 being a coping skill. I haven't played the third edition, but I used to get sucked into the Sims for hours!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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