INSHAPE NEWS MIND MATTERS
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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. As such, building better coping skills involves adjusting to or tolerating stressors, while attempting to maintain good health and wellbeing.
Building Better Coping Skills That Are Productive
There are various ways to classify coping skill. For example, helpful or productive coping skills include relaxation or exercising. Unhelpful or unproductive coping skills are those that let you escape reality. On occasions, these skills include wishful thinking and pretending that the stress does not exist.
Certainly you will have days where you want to escape your stress. On these days you may visit a friend or cleaning the house. However, these activities are usually a short-term fix that will not help you to cope with the stress long-term.
Also, the use of illicit substances, excessive alcohol consumption or involvement in risky activities like gambling are not productive coping skills. So, while these pursuits can allow you to escape stress, they can also create social, health and financial problems.
Building Better Coping Skills That Are Helpful
Understanding how you cope with stress will allow you to assess whether your coping skills are helpful or unhelpful. Consequently, no single coping skill will work for everyone continuously. The effectiveness of your coping skills may also depend on the type of stress you’re encountering.
How you choose to manage and reduce stress can affect your health and wellbeing. Thus, it is important to learn and acquire only helpful coping skills. This approach is achieved by adopting one coping skill, testing it out, and then reviewing if it was helpful or not.
Some common coping skills include:
- Talking to someone you trust.
- Engaging in problem solving.
- 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.
- Distancing yourself from the source of stress.
You building better coping skills you will become more resilient. Some of the benefits of helpful coping are that you experience more positive emotions. Plus, you’ll 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. Also, their continued use can improve your health and wellbeing.
What happens if building better coping skills is too difficult for you?
Unless you create healthy coping skills you may develop poor lifestyle habits. These types of habits typically occur when you feel stressed and they can include: overeating, smoking or drinking alcohol excessively. Another habit may be failing to get enough sleep, which can impact your mental health.
By being honest with yourself and looking critically at your behaviour you can make positive changes. If you find you’re escaping stress by drinking alcohol and you feel it’s uncontrollable, then talk to an online sober coach. Sobriety doesn’t have to become a problem if you face it head on. You also don’t have to go through recovery alone. There are people who can help you.
Building better coping skills starts with you. Recovery from stress is about facing your problems, and setting healthy goals for the future. You can change your life for the better.
WHO IS ZOE?
In 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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