How to develop everyday coping skills

Woman looking in mirror thinking about self worth

Life is rarely a piece of cake and we all face distressing and difficult situations from time to time. It can be difficult to know how to properly react and overcome life’s everyday challenges — this is what coping skills are for.

Coping skills help us take positive action and change a situation instead of ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist. With the right coping skills, you’re better equipped to manage difficult emotions and situations in a healthy way. 

What exactly are coping skills?

Coping skills are the techniques we use to manage difficult emotions and stress. They take the shape of short-term mechanisms that help us with immediate issues, such as counting to ten before speaking. They can also take the shape of long-term strategies, such as changing our behaviors and lifestyles to better suit our problems. 

Everyone has their own set of personal coping skills. While some may find meditation a helpful method of calming down, others may find running, listening to music, or going for a drive more soothing. The best way to find out what your coping skills are is to experiment. Try out different techniques until you find what works best for you. 

When you know what your coping skills are, you can successfully handle your negative emotions and stressful situations better. This leaves you more in control and prepared to take on whatever challenges you may face. 

Different coping skills

There are two main categories of coping skills — active and passive. 

Active coping skills

Active coping skills are the techniques you can use to manage difficult and stressful situations. Some examples include: 

Passive coping skills

Passive coping skills are strategies you can use to manage complex feelings and thoughts. This involves accepting the situation for what it is or distracting yourself from it. Some examples include:

  • Taking a hot bath
  • Working on a craft or art project
  • Writing in a journal
  • Reading
  • Going for a walk

With support from friends, family, and professionals, developing coping skills gets easier over time. Never be scared to reach out and ask for help. Whatever you’re going through, you can always get in touch with us and we’ll support you on your journey.

Whatever type of coping mechanism you choose, it’s important to understand that it should be used carefully. Your techniques should never be used instead of professional help if you’re struggling. You should also be aware of how your coping skills are affecting your overall well-being. 

When you discover which coping techniques work for you and the best way to use them in your everyday life, you’ll find it easier and less stressful to navigate through life’s hurdles. With the right set of coping strategies, you’ll feel more capable of dealing with whatever life has in store for you. 

How to use them

There’s no right or wrong way to use coping mechanisms. Everyone has their own strategy that works for them. Some people thrive when they actively engage in problem-solving techniques, while other people are more successful with passive coping strategies. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a difficult situation or emotion, you need to take a step back for a moment. Reflect on how effective your chosen coping skills are and the impact they’re having on your overall well-being. You could benefit from speaking to a professional who may be able to point you in the right direction. 

Are your coping skills making you feel more stressed? Or are they making you feel more in control and like you can handle any situation?

While coping skills can be remarkably effective tools to use when navigating difficult situations and challenging emotions, there’s a lot of work you need to put in beforehand. To have success with them, you need to understand which ones work best for you and in which situations. 

Take action today

If you’re ready to take back control and develop the coping techniques you need to feel empowered, try one of these today:

  • Try out one passive and one active coping strategy before you’re in a stressful situation to find which you prefer.
  • Seek out someone you trust (a friend, family member, or therapist) to help you determine your best set of coping methods.
  • Write down your coping technique and keep it with you so you can refer to it if needed.
  • Be patient with yourself and be non-judgemental if you find yourself responding in your old way.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741