Coping Skills: Healthy v Unhealthy
Coping skills are things people learn over time on how to manage their lives in ways that are either good or bad for them in the long and short term. The ones that are good often are ones that are harder to implement while the bad ones or the ones that get us into trouble are easier as they often involve anxiety responses.
While growing up, I had always learned how to dig myself into a hole or find myself in a corner. I tend to lie, which is a habit I am trying to break. I have been in therapy for a little over two years. While I was in a therapy session with my family a few months ago, I had mentioned that the only tool I had was a shovel which I had intended as a joke. It was a line that made sense to me as to why I did certain things.
In therapy, I have learned many different coping strategies that have helped me out. Some include self-care strategies, tuning into my emotions so they don’t get overwhelming, talking about the issue at hand and learning what I can do about it, talking to myself about the issue for a bit or journaling, and sometimes acting out the way it may go. Sometimes I find my anxiety flares up long before the anticipated event or situation is even that big. Other times it is learning a boundary and figuring out how to set them up without hurting the relationship. I am also learning how to ask for help with things that might seem a bit confusing or overwhelming to me.
An example of a tool I have that I would like to share with others is the “mood level” index cards. I have some emotion cards that help me to express how I’m feeling and what others can do to either keep me in the clear or get me back to a good headspace. What I did for those was I used three index cards. On the front, I wrote the color and percentage, what that percentage meant to me and how to help me out in a few short sentences. On the back of the index card, I would do a giant circle in the middle with the color of choice and underneath it I would write out the percentage (For example: 75-100%, 50-74% and 0-49%). What colors would you use and what percentages would you use with yours? How do you stay on that level or get back to your happy place?
Some of the coping skills I have had since childhood weren’t all the best things I could have learned but there were a few that have helped me out when I needed it most. I struggle daily with verbal communication when I cannot seem to find my words. When this happens, I tend to get loud and need my space as it tends to look like the champagne bottle on New Year’s. As a kid and even now, I haven’t been the best at communicating effectively in person as such, I’ve always needed some tools beside me be that a phone, or a pen and a notebook. I used to evade problems or pretend like they didn’t exist, and it is one of my harder ones to break. Another one I still tend to fall back on is impulse buying and overindulging on sweets.