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Coping Skills 102 – The Good and The Bad

Well folks, you got your first glimpse into what a coping skill is from my Coping Skills 101 post: now it is time for Coping Skill Training 102, The Good and the Bad!

“Good and Bad? How can a coping skill be bad?”

Oh, my friend, we need to talk.

So, let’s back track to the basics of what a coping skill is.  If you recall from my previous post, a coping skill is an activity, behavior, or strategy that an individual can utilize to achieve a reduction in emotional distress.  Now, if you look at that definition you will realize that nowhere in there does it say it always has to be positive. In fact, many of us do fall victim to engaging skills that may not be the best for us. Why you may ask? Simple. It makes us feel good for the moment in time that we are suffering.

Let’s discuss.

So, have you ever heard anyone say something to the effect of “I broke up with my boyfriend, the only thing that will help me now is some chocolate and a pint of ice cream” or “I’m so stressed about money, maybe if I go to the casino, I will feel better AND win some cash.” Now these sound like good ideas, right? Maybe in the moment but you have to look at cons in the decisions you make.  Let’s discuss the first example. I can all but appreciate the need to quell our feelings by indulging ourselves, but what if that person has been struggling with diabetes and this can jeopardize their health? What about the second example:  Yes, maybe the adrenaline rush of going to the casino may provide short-term excitement, but what happens if he loses?  These are just a few scenarios where coping skills may prove to be anything but beneficial at the end of the day.

“Alright, so what is a good coping skill?”

Positive coping skills are really defined as any skill that you are using that provides short-term comfort and does not cause any undue problems because of its use.  For example, a person who utilizes meditation or guided imagery to self-calm typically does not identify any long-term consequences because of this. Many people like to utilize distraction such as exercise or engagement in a craft activity.  Now I would ask, will either of these activities cause any harm because of its use? If the answer is no, then I would vouch to say that these are positive coping skills, my friends!

            Coping skills come in all different shapes and sizes.

They can be an activity that gets your mind completely focused on the task at hand.  They can be the use of your senses where a certain taste or smell completely shifts your focus.  It can also be the use of the three Ms; Music, Mindfulness, and Meditation.  There are literally hundreds of different skills you can utilize.  Now don’t worry, I won’t go through every single skill out there, BUT I will encourage you to ask yourself “Will there be any consequences by engaging in this?” If the answer is no, then carry on my friend, and hopefully these skills work for you!

Still not feeling better or just unsure what skills to try?  Check us out at Spectrum Health and Human Services.  We know what it’s like to struggle and we will do our best to help you navigate through these tough times.  You can give us a call at 716-539-5500!  Remember, learning to manage day to day stressors is not an easy task so feel free to take advantage of any service available to help! Our Community of Caring offers Mindfulness  every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10am.  As a proud agency provide for NY Project Hope, our Hope and Cope: Techniques for Making Life Easier group sessions are free and open to everyone, including Keep Calm Yoga on Tuesday at 10am and Flow into Friday Yoga, Friday at 9am.

Katrina Norris

Clinical Director

Springville Counseling Center

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