Creating a Coping Skills Toolbox
Kate Rhodes MS, LPC, NCC
Coping skills are techniques used to deal with stress and anxiety. These can be positive or negative in nature. The ability to contrive positive, good coping skills and begin implementing them into your daily life takes effort and practice. There are countless lists you can obtain searching online or asking a mental health professional but coming up with ones that work best for you can be a process. Looking over ideas and lists of positive techniques is a great start; thinking about activities or objects that are calming can lend to best practices as well as asking a friend or family member. One you have a handful of skills that help during stressful times it is prudent to take note. This is where making a coping skills toolbox can be extremely helpful. Breaking those skills down into categories can help give options when you find yourself in varying situations. For example, you may not be able to use the same coping skill in the privacy of your own home that you would need in a crowded party or sitting at a desk in school or work. By creating your own coping skills toolbox you have access to your most useful techniques all in one place. This makes it easier to remember those skills and to use them vs resorting to negative coping skills out of habit.
Beginning a Coping Skills Toolbox:
By utilizing my 5 R’s for dealing with anxiety you can break your toolbox down into categories: Relocate, Relax, Reframe, Re-center, Redirect.
Examples for each category:
Relocate: a list or picture of places that are calming—a favorite nature preserve, your bedroom, a tree down the street, Bora Bora.
Relax: a list of grounding techniques ex. 5 senses), stress ball, fidget toy, worry stones, massage roller, aromatherapy.
Reframe: reframing negative thoughts by providing a journal to adjust fixed mindsets and write out emotions.
Re-center: Meditation cd’s, soothing music, cards with yoga poses, mini Zen garden.
Redirect: Puzzles, books, colored pencils and coloring book or sketchpad.
Build your Toolbox:
Get a shoebox, empty canister or jar; something that can hold your newly gathered coping skills and be easily accessible. You can decorate your toolbox or leave it as is but keep it handy for when stress pops up. For additional information and professional help please contact The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center to begin your journey to self-healing.
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