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Building Better Coping Skills


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Zoe Markopoulos -Psychologist (MAPS, CEDP)

Coping skills are ways in which you learn to manage and reduce stressors that occur in life, such as pressures in the workplace or relationship conflicts. Coping typically involves adjusting to or tolerating stressors, while attempting to maintain good health and wellbeing.

Productive and Unproductive Coping

There are various ways to classify coping skill. For example, helpful or productive coping includes relaxation or exercising, while unhelpful or unproductive coping includes escapism or wishful thinking as though the stressor does not exist. Certainly you have days where you just want to escape your stressor by seeing a friend or cleaning the house, however this usually will not help you to cope with stressors in the long-term. Further, excessive use of alcohol or gambling as coping skills can create social, health and financial problems.

Helpful  and Unhelpful Coping Skills

Understanding how you cope with stressors will allow you to assess whether the coping skills are helpful or unhelpful. No single coping skill will work for everyone continuously. The effectiveness of your coping skills may also depend on the particular stressor. Given that how you choose to manage and reduce stressors can affect your health and wellbeing, it is important to learn and acquire only helpful coping skills. This can be achieved by choosing and applying a number of coping skills, and reviewing which coping skills were helpful or unhelpful. Some common coping skills include:

  • Talking to someone you trust.
  • Engaging in problem solving.
  • Journaling.
  • Setting aside regular time for yourself.
  • Overcoming negative patterns of thinking through positive self-talk.
  • Reducing your load – accepting you cannot do everything.
  • Considering the big picture – ask yourself how important is this?
  • Building your optimism.
  • Building your gratitude.
  • Relaxation.
  • Distancing yourself from the source of stress.

You can learn how to improve your coping skills and ultimately be more resilient. Some of the benefits of helpful coping are that you experience more positive emotions, have better sleep and are more likely to achieve your goals. Obtaining and maintaining helpful coping skills does take practice, however using these skills becomes easier over time and is worthwhile, as it can improve your health and wellbeing.

Image - Z MarkopoulosIn her professional practice, Zoe Markopoulos applies her psychological and educational expertise in the effective delivery of psychology services to children and families. She recognises the importance of fostering resilience and addressing the social, emotional and educational needs of students. Zoe predominately aligns her work with the principles and techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy, positive psychology and mindfulness. A significant part of her work involves psychological counselling and assessment, developing and implementing evidence-based programs, and consultation. Zoe is also interested in self-care activities to help maintain physical, mental and emotional health.

Zoe has contributed to academic publications focused on coping, bullying, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, children and families. She is a member of the Australian Psychologist Society and is regularly involved with the College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists (Victoria), as a committee member. Zoe is currently completing the Psychology Board of Australia Registrar Program in Educational and Developmental Psychology.

Disclaimer: The information published in this column is based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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