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The Psychology of Coping Skills

The human brain is a powerful thing. It can control all of the body’s functions, store memories, and make decisions that will affect your life in more ways than you know. But how do you enhance these abilities further? One way is through coping skills, which enable you to effectively deal with uncontrollable situations. However, when the going gets tough, it’s easy to lose sight of what works best for us. In this article, we’ll explore what are some coping skills and the various strategies such as coping skills therapy you can use to live a more fulfilling life.

What coping skills mean

Coping skills are tools or techniques, meaning you can use them to help manage difficult feelings, reduce stress, or establish a sense of normalcy in your life. Sometimes, these strategies might be intentional decisions but other times, they’re automatically the way you respond when life throws curve balls. 

Coping mechanisms often come into play during tough periods like illness or the unexpected death of a loved one. It’s important to know what your options will be for handling these moments. These coping strategies can help individuals adapt and maintain their emotional wellbeing, especially in times when they feel lost.

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The difference between coping skills and self-care

Coping skills are your backup plan to get through difficult times, but self-care is the way you prepare for them. Self-care refers to things like exercise, reading, journaling, time with loved ones, and nutrition that can help reduce stress levels. Coping skills give us a foundation for our conscious and subconscious reactions to external stressors. When we’re running on empty, we can become more sensitive to those stressors, meaning that our coping skills may not be in place to help us reflect on rather than react to the stressor. When you know healthy ways of responding by learning what some coping skills are and what they can do for you, this makes all things easier on yourself mentally and physically, especially when combined with coping skills therapy. 

Types of Coping Strategies

When we’re faced with a challenge, it can be easy to think that there’s only one way of overcoming the obstacle. Coping mechanisms are different from person to person, and while some may make your life better in certain situations, others might not. An example is the avoidant coping mechanism which is characterized by ignoring or otherwise avoiding the problem: meaning passive coping skills can lead to a buildup of unaddressed problems and anxiety which might cause more harm than good in the long run.

On the other hand, people are better able to cope with stressors when they’re actively involved in the process. Active coping methods such as problem-focused and emotion-focused skills involve conscious attempts to minimize stressors.

Problem-focused coping

In coping skills therapy, problem-focused coping techniques are usually linked to methods of dealing with problems to reduce stress. People who like to complete tasks in their list of priorities and wonder what are some coping skills they can work on should adopt problem-based strategies. With this approach, you have to remember that small steps are a part of life, and there should be a balance between self-compassion and good momentummeaning in utilizing coping skills, some problems are very clear and anything you can do to move to a goal can lower your stress.

Emotion-focused coping

This is a great way to manage and reduce emotional stress, and using coping skills can mean you focus on emotions instead of the event. Exercise with your dog, take a bath, or spend time in nature. It’s important not to judge yourself when feelings arise; rather, use techniques like mindful breathing so that they don’t escalate into anything more than what you can handle at any given moment in time.

Coping mechanisms and mental health

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Effectively using coping skills may mean improvement in your emotional self-worth and mental well-being. However, life’s challenges, whether they are large or small, can be difficult at times. If you’re feeling stuck in an unhealthy pattern of coping, our team would love to work with you on creating a plan for long-term success. 

Therapy provides support, a safe space, and the opportunity to learn new ways of coping and working on improving your mental health and well being, one session at a time. Get started by reaching out today!

Anna Marchenko

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. is the principal therapist at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She holds a bachelor's degree from NYU and dual masters degrees from Columbia University. Marchenko’s hypnosis certification is from the only hypnosis program in Florida that has been certified by the state’s Board of Education. She helps her clients by utilizing an integrative approach to psychotherapy, tailored to each individual’s mental health journey, drawing from hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP therapy, EMDR, and more.

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