Coping skills for distress are different for all of us. They seem to come naturally, but at one point and time, each coping skill was new and different. You found it effective, so you kept doing it until it became second nature to you. Stress reducers are healthy, but some of our coping skills come at a price that makes them unhealthy. The economics of coping are simple. Some skills work, but come at a price, such as drinking. It may help you forget your troubles, but can cost headaches, embarrassment, loss of productivity, irritation, or even organ damage. Screaming, taking a bath, or yelling are also solutions people use, but these are instant-gratification fixes; they work fast but don’t last long. Low-cost, high-yielding coping skills are things such as talking with a friend or exercising.
You may find not all coping skills work for you, or that they don’t work after time. If you’re reading this, sucking your thumb won’t make you feel better anymore. Also, not all coping habits are helpful in all situations. If you cope by sleeping, then it won’t help when you shut down in the middle of a crisis. It’s hard to let go of old, comforting skills; but you can change them if you want to. First, decide to do it! Then take it one step at a time and make your new skills as natural as cuddling a blankie was when you were a child.
- What kind of skills would you like to try?
- Do you have unhealthy coping skills?
- What skills would you like to phase out?