5 Positive Coping Skills That Will Change Your Life

Updated October 21, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Every day we are forced to deal with a barrage of emotions. Some of these emotions we feel more intensely than others while others are fleeting. The third set of emotions that we are forced to feel are those that are almost always present. These emotions may even threaten to overwhelm us sometimes. Some of these emotions include sadness, anxiety,  fear, and stress. Dealing with these emotions in large amounts daily requires strategy and a conscious effort to keep these emotions at bay. In most instances, when dealing with these emotions, people need to develop healthy and positive coping messages.

coping skill or strategy is a reaction that is often involuntary, which a person may adopt sub-consciously to deal with a recurring situation. Most coping skills are not adopted consciously. These sub-conscious coping mechanisms are usually more hurtful in the long term to the individual who has adopted the coping strategy than they are helpful. Most positive coping skills are honed and developed over time to become beneficial to the individual who is adopting them. There are several different categories of positive coping mechanisms available, and in this article, we will discuss a few of these coping mechanisms. It is essential that you develop a healthy coping mechanism for daily living, especially if you deal with one mental issue or the other.

Social/Interpersonal Coping skills

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Science has proven that inter-personal relationships and social support go a long way to counteract the effects of stress on a person. Relating with friends and just unwinding goes a long way in helping a lot of people unwind from a stressful situation. Also, participation in social groups can help recognize the development of a disorder or a potential disorder. These social situations also help parties involved, to have a support system in case certain feelings overwhelm them from time to time. Social and interpersonal coping skills do not necessarily have to be something as complex as having a group of friends with several activities. However, that in itself is not a bad coping skill. For some people, a social coping skill may be as simple as having weekly dates with someone that they trust. Social interaction can be limited to one specific person or several people, mainly depending on the nature of the person who is applying these social and inter-personal skills. Other social and interpersonal coping mechanisms may include volunteering joining a book club, or even adopting and caring for a pet. Remember, the end goal here is to ensure that some form of interaction can be used to keep you out of your head.


Coping skills allow you to divert your thoughts from an overwhelming situation to something much small yet equally mentally tasking. Most diversion coping mechanisms are used as a temporary solution for much more lasting coping mechanisms. A lot of times, people can select their diversions for coping naturally. A diversion can be watching a recipe video on YouTube, or selecting a movie to watch. In some cases, people dance or sing loudly for some time as a way to release stress. Reading a book is also a perfect positive coping mechanism. Whatever you may decide on or naturally identify as a diversion coping mechanism, your diversion should be positive. As good as naturally finding a positive coping system may sound, it is still a great idea to identify and apply a diversion proactively. By identifying a diversion that you feel will be beneficial to you, maintaining control of your diversion becomes possible. Taking a walk, frequent vacations, reading a book, going shopping, volunteering, or watching a tv show are all good ideas of diversions that you could adopt.

Cognitive Coping Skills

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Cognitive coping involves training the mind to identify negative emotions and stress-inducing situations. When an individual identifies negative patterns of thinking. These are patterns that often lead to feelings of hopelessness or despair. Words like “should” and statements, which are mostly just conclusions the party has come to as a result of over thinking, are all identified clearly. The purpose of this mental exercise is to help the individual fully identify the thought patterns, which may ultimately lead to negative emotions and bad feelings.      Although this is mostly a mental activity, feel free to document these thoughts, visual documentation may serve as a reminder for a situation where it is difficult to put your mind in the right headspace. After identifying all of these negative thoughts and the patterns you can move to the next stage. You can now begin to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. Thoughts like “I can’t do this” are replaced with positive affirmation saying, “I am competent.” It is advisable to have several positive affirmations to address negative mental situations. Having several truths which you can tell yourself when you begin to feel a way that you have identified as being negative. Some exercises that you may engage in include keeping a daily positive journal, making a gratitude list, making a list of daily positive affirmations, making a ‘forget it list” for the thoughts you want to put out of your mind, etc. All of the activities you may engage in as cognitive coping should be aimed at reducing the negativity in your thoughts and replacing these negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

Tension Releasing Coping Skills

One of the most effective ways to distress is to be involved in one form of tension relieving activity or another. In most instances, stress may build up in individuals up to the point where they need an outlet to express their frustrations. In such a situation, some form of exercise which leaves the individual feeling exhausted and refreshed is usually a good tension reliever. Finding and adopting a tension relieving coping mechanism is personal to every person; there is no one-size-fits-all hack to this coping strategy. Since stress is not something that you can predict or hold back, it is essential to have a coping skill that can be applied anywhere. Most people develop short and long term stress coping skills and techniques. One short term tension coping skill that is easily adoptable by anyone is meditation. Taking a moment to calm your mind and focus on the here and now is a good strategy for letting go of stress.

You may need to allow your mind to actively pay attention to smells, sound, and touch sensations to de-stress yourself. Another tension releasing coping skill can merely be receiving a hug from a loved one when you are home. Hugs have been proven to relieve stress. Science has shown that getting a hug from a loved one releases a hormone known as oxytocin, which is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress. One effective long term tension coping skill is eating a balanced diet. In the long run, eating correctly and not responding to a situation goes a long way in reducing stress in a person. It is essential to cultivate the habit of eating well despite your emotions and not as a coping mechanism. In the long term, this particular coping technique allows your body to feel better and react to situations better. Physical activity is also a great tension in coping skills. Joining a gym taking a self-defense class or learning some martial arts are great ways to vent in a controlled environment. These activities go a long way in balancing out your emotions. In most cases, selecting a physical activity to engage in works perfectly as a coping strategy.

Praying, Meditating and Enjoyment and Nature

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Connecting with your inner self or a higher prayer on a spiritual level is a great coping mechanism for many people. Focusing on the connection that you have with nature or with a higher power can be enough to take your mind of all negative emotions, which may threaten to cloud it. There is an inner desire in every one of us to feel worthwhile and connected to the universe. By satisfying these needs, there is a calmness that exudes from within which help you focus and gives you clarity. Sometimes all you need to deal with the stress of life is a little faith.

At BetterHelp, our trained professionals and specialists are available to help you select what coping mechanism works best for you. Our licensed professionals are also available to be your support system as you lean into selecting a coping mechanism. Your mental health is very important, and the need to maintain a healthy mental balance cannot be overemphasized. If you are dealing with minor or mild mental disorders, there is a possibility that you can manage this condition by adopting any of these coping strategies without the need for further treatment. It is essential that you contact our experts and BetterHelp, who will help you select the best path to striking a mental health balance. You can contact us now at BetterHelp.com for further inquiries.

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