If you’ve been on TikTok in the last few days, then you may have seen the newest trend circulating the Internet. Here, a voiceover says, “Oops, got your coping skill, now let’s see what we got” followed by something that is typically not a healthy coping mechanism. Think along the lines of cutting one’s hair, online shopping, isolating or over exercising.
While the trend makes light of a more serious situation, let’s face it, we’ve all been through a breakup, a loss of someone special, or another traumatic event. In these types of scenarios, it can be difficult to cope in the aftermath, especially if it’s not a situation you previously encountered.
How we deal with stressors, anxieties and negative events can be influenced by the people around us, emotional maturity, and having access to resources and support.
Identifying Your Coping Strategy
“Coping strategies range depending on the individual and what they personally resonate with,” explains Jillian Amodio, a mental health advocate and founder of Moms for Mental Health, a peer support center in Annapolis, Maryland. “Identifying coping strategies as either positive or negative can help ensure that you are operating from a growth-focused mindset.”
The first step when identifying healthy coping skills is figuring out the underlying issue or root of your troubles. According to Amodio, there are so many common issues like family dynamics, eating disorders, anxiety and mental health conditions, career struggles and others that may be underlying issues.
However, no matter what the problem is, it’s never too small. All of us cope differently, and there are some coping skills that are healthier than others. So, while retail therapy, emotional eating, or changing one’s appearance might all seem innocuous, they do not necessarily deal with the issue you might be facing and are only temporary solutions.
Healthy Coping Skills That Work
According to Amodio, here are some healthy coping skills that will actually help to relieve your stress, anxiety, or depression.
- While dealing with family and interpersonal relationships, ask yourself what your values and priorities are. Identify your own strengths and separate them from the larger family system and set boundaries and expectations. And of course, family therapy is a great coping mechanism to work through conflicts and improve social dynamics.
- If you’re dealing with body dysmorphia and any form of eating disorders, seek the help of a mental health professional, and/or a nutritionist, outpatient treatment, or inpatient treatment. Ignoring this issue is not the answer.
- Prioritize your mental health and separate yourself from anything (including anyone) that causes you anxiety or stress.
- Engage in mindfulness exercises, yoga, meditation or outdoor adventures. Get your body moving! Any movement is helpful, even if that’s a long walk with your best friend or walking your dog with your favorite podcast on.
- Find hobbies that you love and make you feel invigorated. If you’re not sure of what your interests are, join a social media group or attend local free events to meet like minded people and perhaps try a new activity.
- Journaling. Writing is not only cathartic but will help you organize and process your thoughts more.
- Therapy is a great resource and can include advanced techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy. But, if that’s not accessible to all, even dietary changes, physical exercise, pharmacological interventions, and sleep habits adaptations are healthier choices.
Coping Skills That Don’t Work
Sure, we’ve told you what mechanisms work, but here are ones that won’t.
- Denial does not help and in fact will never give you the opportunity to fix the underlying issue.
- Self harm is not an outlet for emotional pain and is highly dangerous, especially because it can lead to severe injury or even be fatal in some situations.
- Substance abuse (whether drugs or alcohol) is similarly not a good choice because it can be extremely harmful to overall health and wellness
- Avoidance of the problem instead of addressing it delays finding a healthy solution.
- Drastically changing one’s physical appearance through overexercising, spending excessive money on shopping, or other aesthetic changes.
- Procrastinating a solution. The issue will still be there tomorrow if not dealt with, so figure out what the best option is for you.
Coping mechanisms take time to implement. Be easy and patient with yourself, and understand that this is a journey and that you are never alone.
“It is important to acknowledge that change and growth take time, and that healing is often not a linear process. It can be helpful to have a third party, such as a therapist to help guide you on your journey of growth and healing and to help hold you accountable to your goals,” adds Amodio.