The term ‘coping skills’ is one we hear and use often, but something we’ve noticed is that most people don’t actually understand what they are. So, let’s break it down.

Life is full of unexpected situations and things we can’t control. Most of us get stuck in that out-of-control feeling and react based on the unpleasant feeling; it’s really common until you learn how to cope in a different way. Let’s start to shift our focus to what we can control and that’s our responses to these situations–even when it feels impossible. Cue the coping skills! By improving our tools for coping with stress, we can take a step back from our immediate reaction and give ourselves space to find a better approach.

Simply put, coping skills are methods and techniques a person uses to deal with stressful situations. Healthy coping skills may help a person face a situation, take action, and be flexible and persistent in solving problems. Consistent use of healthy coping skills will aid in the mastery of soothing or distracting you from the unpleasant feeling, so you can act from a place of intent rather than instinct.

There’s a twist though: coping skills aren’t always healthy. A quick way to decipher if a coping skill is healthy or unhealthy is to ask yourself if the coping skill actually helps you to feel better or if it just numbs/distracts you from the unpleasant feeling. Healthy coping skills will lead you to clarity and an improvement in how you’re feeling. Unhealthy coping skills lead you to more unhealthy behaviors.

If you recognize a tendency to use unhealthy strategies, it can be helpful to work with a therapist to identify your triggers and replace the unhealthy activities with more beneficial choices. During the next few weeks, APC therapists Jeanmarie and Gabrielle will be educating on healthy coping skills on our lnstagram and Facebook. Feel free to check it out, or reach out to our clinical team if you have any questions. As always, we are here to help.