How Can You Cope?

Pick the skills you want to try or use and create cards for them or put them in your phone for quick reference.

A couple of tips, some of these are for right away coping, and some might be more effective for when your arousal level is not as high. Some can be done in advance, and some can be done anywhere. Also, try as many as you can, as often as you can. Try them again and again because it could take some practice to get it to work for you.

Only you know what can help you, so make this your own. And remember, coping doesn’t necessarily mean your anxiety or emotional arousal will be gone. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Using coping skills may help reduce your symptoms and arousal, allowing you to think, and manage the situation a little more effectively.

Here’s the list I found so far…

– Ask for help
– Take a “buddy” when going to a risky place/situation
– Phone or text someone for support
– Inspire yourself
– Leave a bad scene/situation
– Avoid people or places that trigger problematic coping strategies
– Leave risky situations, or limit how long you stay
– Go for a walk
– Plan ahead for risky situations or “loopholes” to your plans
– Plan it out (take the time to think ahead)
– Recognize when you are making self-defeating statements
– Imagine a stop sign when you are having intrusive thoughts or imagery
– Think that you are in charge of whatever decisions you make about your safety
– Read a book
– Read inspiring literature on self-growth or recovery
– Do something physical
– Stand tall and feel your body’s strength
– Hold onto something to ground yourself
– Clean or do housework
– Persist (never, never, never, never, never give up)
– Honesty (secrets and lying are at the core of trauma)
– Cry (let yourself cry, it will not last forever)
– Choose self-respect
– Take good care of your body
– Take care of yourself if you are hungry, thirsty, or tired
– List any options (in any situation, you have choices)
– Create meaning
– Do the best you can with what you have
– Set a boundary
– Compassion (listen to yourself with respect and care)
– When in doubt, do what’s hardest (the most difficult path is invariably the right one)
– Talk yourself through it
– Imagine (create a mental picture that helps you feel different)
– Notice the choice point (in slow motion, notice the exact moment when you chose unsafe behaviour)
– Pace yourself (if overwhelmed, slow down)
– Stay safe
– Seek understanding, not blame (listen to your behaviour; blaming prevents growth)
– If one way doesn’t work, try another (as if in a maze, turn a corner and try a new path)
– Link trauma and addiction/coping methods (recognize addiction/coping method as an attempt to soothe emotional pain)
– Create a new story (you are the author of your life)
– Avoid avoidable suffering (prevent bad situations in advance, if you can)
– Ask others (ask others if your belief is accurate)
– Get organized
– Structure your day
– Watch for danger signs
– Healing above all/Prioritize healing
– Try something, anything
– Discovery (find out whether your assumption is true rather than staying “in your head”)
– Attend treatment (keep appointments, be vigilant for your health)
– Create a buffer
– Be honest
– Listen to your needs (no more neglect – really hear what you need)
– Move toward your opposite
– Do volunteer work
– Try meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation tapes
– Try new hobbies or leisure activities
– Use affirmations
– Light candles to help you focus on your thoughts and feelings
– Get a punching bag, or hit a pillow or bed, scream into a pillow
– Talk to a pet/spend time with animals
– Spend time in nature
– Go to a spiritual place (anyplace you define as spiritual)
– Create a safe or sacred place in your home
– Be kind to yourself
– If you are afraid of being overwhelmed by your emotions, imagine them coming through a tap where you are able to control the flow
– Practice saying “no” with both your voice and body language
– Notice the cost
– Set an action plan
– Protect yourself
– Soothing talk
– Think of the consequences (really see the impact)
– Trust the process (just keep moving forward; the only way out is through)
– Tell yourself that you are doing well so far and don’t want to interfere with the progress
– Work the material (the more you practice and participate, the quicker the healing)
– Integrate the split self (accept all sides of yourself; they are there for a reason)
– Expect growth to feel uncomfortable (if it feels awkward or difficult, you’re doing it right)
– Remind yourself that you are in the present and the past cannot hurt you now
– Replace destructive activities
– Observe repeating patterns
– Self-nurture
– Practice delay (if you can’t totally prevent a self-destructive act, at least delay it as long as possible)
– Focus on now (do what you can to make today better)
– Praise yourself (notice what you did right)
– Stay in contact with supportive people
– Go to a support group
– Listen to music. Sing. Dance.
– Go to the library
– Go to the bookstore
– Go to the museum or art gallery
– Take responsibility
– Set a deadline
– Make a commitment
– Rethink (think in a way that helps you feel better)
– Remember the positive things about using healthy coping strategies
– Remember the negative consequences of using problematic coping strategies
– Detach from emotional pain (grounding; distract, or walk away)
– Learn from experience
– Solve the problem
– Practice being kind with yourself
– Use kinder language
– Be kind to myself and do what I can to reduce my cognitive vulnerability
– Think kind thoughts about yourself
– Think about time in your life (even if few) where you felt good about yourself. Try to get in touch with the feelings of strength and success that went along with those events.
– Examine the evidence (evaluate both sides of the issue)
– When feeling overwhelmed, make a pros/cons list and limit your decisions until you feel less overwhelmed
– Identify the belief (e.g. Shoulds, deprivation reasoning)
– Reward yourself
– Create a new script
– Find (new) rules to live by
– Setbacks are not failures
– Tolerate the feeling (no feeling is forever)
– Tell yourself the feelings, even difficult feelings, are normal
– Ask yourself what you are feeling (go through a checklist of your common “feeling triggers” – am I lonely, sad, anxious, bored, scared.)
– Give yourself permission to feel emotions (don’t judge your feelings)
– Express your feelings (cry, smile, etc.)
– Find a creative outlet for feelings (music, drawing, painting, poetry, etc.)
– Get a journal and write to yourself
– Take time to soothe/nurture yourself
– Actions first, feelings will follow (don’t wait until you feel motivated; just start now)
– When in doubt, don’t
– Fight the trigger (take an active approach to protect yourself)
– Notice the source (before you accept criticism or advice, notice who’s telling it to you)
– When a negative belief pops into your head, try to remember where it really came from, who originally planted those beliefs? Think about challenging them with other information you know about yourself, which proves the beliefs to be false
– Make a decision (if you’re stuck, try choosing the best solution you can for right now)
– Be aware of any tendency you have to make general statements about yourself. Being human means having good days and bad days.
– Do the right thing
– Reach for community resources
– Get others to support your recovery
– Notice what you can control

– What safe coping skills can you use today?

I recommend writing down the ones you want to try, maybe on index cards, or putting them on notepaper, or even in your phone, to refer to whenever you need it.

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