Common questions when starting therapy to address symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Coping skills; what are they and how do they help with depression and anxiety?
Coping skills are talked about a lot in therapy, but what exactly are they and how do they help?
Coping skills are activities or exercises that you enjoy and can use to help overcome or “cope” with an emotional situation. They can be anything that helps you and should be unique to you. Some general coping skills you may be familiar with are breathing exercises, art, reading, and physical exercise. But not every coping skill works the same for everyone or for every situation and that’s why it’s important to make them unique to you and have a tool kit of multiple coping skills.
With the description above on what coping skills are, being ANY activity or exercises you enjoy and that helps your feel better is a coping skill. It can literally be anything that HELPS you. To identify coping skills, I recommend starting with your interests and hobbies.
What do you like to do and what makes you feel good?
Here are some common examples of coping skills that I hear from clients:
- Physical activity
- Spending time with friends/family
- Mindfulness practice
Coping skills can be anything you enjoy; start with your hobbies and activities that you know bring you joy and build on that list for healthy coping skills. You can also try new activities to add to your list of coping skills.
Mindfulness exercises are a highly popular approach to active coping skills.
Mindfulness is the approach of being aware of something in the moment. With this approach be fully in the moment of your activity or exercise and fully experience that moment.
Try this simple Mindfulness Exercise as a coping skill.
While you’re eating, allow yourself to be in that moment and just focus on your eating. See how the approach of being mindful and fully experiencing that moment helps with your coping.
Some other helpful Mindfulness tools:
A mobile application for Mindfulness that I regularly recommend is the app Headspace.
It’s a free app and has plenty of exercises to help practice Mindfulness.
There are also plenty of videos on YouTube with others approaching various activities with Mindfulness.
Remember that coping skills are intended to help us cope with the current moment and to help us feel better, so it’s important to have a list and a good tool kit filled with them to help with various situations you may encounter.
Anxiety and depression are common feelings that many of us face. Having a strong toolkit of coping skills to manage these feelings is important.
It’s okay to seek support to help with adding to your toolkit with your existing support group or from a therapist, even with a one time consultation.