Mental Health Recovery-Coping Skills
If our lives (or our mental health recovery journeys) didn’t have any stress we wouldn’t need to cultivate such great coping skills. But because we do have stress in our mental health recovery journeys, developing coping skills is incredibly important. Developing coping skills is of vital importance to anyone trying to get into a durable, long-lasting recovery.
Helpful and Unhelpful Coping Skills
When I was going to see a therapist at a community mental health provider (who shall remain nameless at this time), there was a class called coping skills that included such things as:
- Go to a store clerk and ask for change. Do it until you feel comfortable.
- Practice half smiling every day. (It’ll make you feel better and eventually it will turn into a real smile.)
- Use affirmations every day.
- Tape affirmations all over your house so you can see them.
These might have been very good coping skills for many people. The problem was that none of them fit who I am as a person very well. If I was going to practice some coping skills, it should have been something like:
- Shine your sink once a day. (Thanks flylady. I couldn’t keep up but you did change my life.)
- Read a joke or two every day or watch a funny movie so you want to smile.
- Instead of using affirmations, using the words (or something like them); I am in the process of becoming…. It’s hard to use affirmations when one doesn’t believe in them. I know all about the “fake it until you make it” philosophy, but I try for more real every time. And little pieces of paper all over my house are totally overwhelming to me.
What Should our Mental Health Recovery Coping Skills Be?
At the same time coping skills are skills that we need to have if we want a mental health recovery that is solid and long-lasting. What should we look for in coping skills that will help our mental health recovery? After all there are all kinds of coping skills out there (If you just want to look at a list of coping skills—the list is here.) and for the coping skills to work best they need to fit who we are.
For coping skills to work best, they need to be used fairly regularly. The last thing I want is to be in a crisis or in the middle of a panic attack and then whip out a coping skill that I heard about that only makes me feel worse. And I learned the hard way that coping skills that worked for my best friend or for my counsellor won’t necessarily work for me.
Revisiting Mental Health Recovery Coping Skills to See if They Will Work Now:
I would like to say that now that I am better, some of the coping skills that wouldn’t work for me before (when I was feeling less healthy), work for me now. For a long time I was uncomfortable with feeling soothed and that is what many of my favorite coping skills do now. They soothe me. They soothe my ragged, jagged feelings and take some of the pain and anxiety away.
I’m glad that I took the time to retry coping skills that hadn’t worked for me in the past. Yoga is something that I thought I would never be able to relax enough to do. I still don’t like to meditate, but yoga does work for me now. After all my mental health recovery journey and life are a process. What is most important is learning to enjoy life as it happens.
What are my favorite coping skills?
The three R’s. Reading, writing and riding my motorcycle. I also like to spend time with friends, travel and go camping.
Coping Skills That May Help With One’s Mental Health Recovery
Here is a list of some coping skills that people shared with me when I asked them what their favorite coping skills were.
- Writing Poetry
- My Cat
- Not Going to Church
- Having a Service Animal
- Going to a Park
- Cleaning House
- Going to the Beach
- Find Distractions (Change thinking)
- Taking a Hot Shower
- Practicing Until I Do Something Well
- Washing Dishes
- Riding a Bike
- Baking Bread
- Learning it’s OK to Say No
- Making Videos
- Tai Chi
- Making Candles
- Watching Funny Movies
- Taking Baby Steps
- Taking a Hot Bath
- My Dog
- Eating Well
- Going for a Drive or a Ride
- Burning Scented Candles
- Going Swimming
- Hanging Out With Positive People
- Keeping a Journal
- Face My Fears
- Burning Scented Candles
- Jigsaw Puzzles
- Curling Up with a Good Book
- Playing Board Games
- Word Search Puzzles
- Drawing Pictures
- Going to Support Group
- Going Out to Eat
- Hanging Out With People Who Care
As you can see, the list of Coping Skills is long and varied. Hopefully there are some that will meet your needs.