Coping Skills

Coping skills can help
Coping skills can help you assess the things in your lives you can control.  They are the way you choose to respond to your feelings of stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions.

Negative coping skills
These are short-term and provide instant gratification, but only temporary relief and often have negative consequences.  They tend to ignore the real problem, working as a distraction instead of a solution.  Examples are:

  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Procrastination
  • Distraction – taking on additional projects and responsibilities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Over- or under-eating
  • Aggression toward others
  • Risk-taking behaviors

Positive coping skills
These are long-lasting and lead to positive outcomes and may not provide instant relief, but address the problem and improve well-being.  Examples are:

  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Plenty of sleep
  • Venting to friends and/or family
  • Problem solving; finding the cause of stress and planning solutions
  • Relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation

It is important that young people have a toolbox of positive coping skills – if you are not used to using positive coping skills, you may turn to the negative ones.

Self-assessment
Take time to assess your life and the people in it.  Consider the following:

  • Are you hanging out with people who are bad influences?
  • Do you constantly feel like you are under peer pressure?
  • Do you feel bad about yourself because of the constant comparison that goes with social media?
  • If there are negative things in your life, do you have the ability to cut them out?
  • Are you over-extended from school or extra activities, or is your job is intensifying your feelings?

While you may not have the option to stop going to school or practice, or to quit a job, you can set boundaries when asked to take on additional responsibilities.

It’s OK to ask for help
There is often a stigma surrounding mental health.  Countless people seek help for mental health issues every day.  Don’t let fear or embarrassment keep you from getting help.  Some readily available supports include:

  • Teachers
  • School counselors or social workers
  • Parents
  • Other trusted adults

If you are feeling stressed, down, overwhelmed, or think you could be struggling with depression or anxiety, talk to someone about it.  If you need additional support, have your parents make an appointment with your pediatrician or a mental health professional.