14th January 2022
Wellness – Coping Skills and Strategies Article Written and Researched by Octavia Bettis
We at Surestaff care about the emotional wellbeing of our clients and employees, especially during these uncertain times. The ever-looming threat of Covid over our heads and the constant changes can take a toll on a person’s mental health. We at Surestaff are mindful of that. Due to the times we live in it can become eerily easy to fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. Some of you may be wondering, what are coping mechanisms?
Coping mechanisms are techniques people use to manage difficult emotions. You probably already use certain coping mechanisms; you just might not be aware of it. The main difference between healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms is that healthy coping mechanisms improve your situation while unhealthy mechanisms don’t improve the situation or can even make it worse.
Remember that positive coping mechanisms: • Bring you joy • Benefit you on all levels • Are practical and adaptable • Are learnable • Should be varied and individualized Examples of Healthy Coping Mechanisms Here are some strategies you can try. Some of these may work and others might not. Try a variety so you can find the ones that work best for you and your needs: • Deep breathing • Exercise • Looking after a plant • Meditation • Journaling • Watching a movie/TV show • Reading • Mindfulness • Trying a new hobby • Sleeping and eating well • Drawing/colouring/sketching • Talking to someone • Cooking • Repeating positive affirmations • Challenging negative thoughts • Engaging the five senses • Taking a shower/bath • Listening to music • Doing brain teasers/crossword puzzles • Cleaning/organizing
A helpful analogy is to think of coping mechanisms as a toolbox filled with plenty of strategies for different circumstances. In times of distress, try to visualize looking through your own toolbox to find the right coping mechanism. Identify: What are things that bring me joy and comfort? Practice: Engage in the activity/skill to become comfortable with it. Implement: Use the skill in times of need. Evaluate: How successful was I in utilizing this skill? Was it easy/natural to use? Did it decrease the undesired emotion? Did I like the outcome? Adapt: Make small or large changes to the skill; keep adding to your toolbox.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms Some individuals have trouble regulating their emotions. They may act out or engage in harmful behaviours to self-soothe. This can be made even worse by an underlying mental health condition. Here are some negative coping mechanisms to watch for in yourself: • Verbal or physical aggression • Self-harm (cutting, scratching, burning, etc.) • Withdrawing from friends and family • Loss of appetite or overeating • Excessive screen time • Drug or alcohol abuse • Avoidance of problems/denial of emotions.
If you’re using negative coping strategies and you are having trouble replacing the unhealthy behaviours with healthier ones, it may be time to try talking to your GP. They will be able to spot and identify if there are any larger underlying issues at play and be able to refer you to the appropriate services.