Five Healthy Coping Skills For Facing Setbacks

Updated January 18, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Setbacks are unfortunately a part of living in today’s world. Sometimes, when you set goals and make moves to accomplish these goals, unforeseen and unhelpful setbacks can occur. This is where the need for healthy coping strategies comes in. Learning coping skills for facing setbacks will benefit your mental health. These coping skills will also help you turn setbacks into opportunities to grow on a personal level.

We All Have Setbacks, But The Way You Cope Makes A Difference

Why Setbacks Pose A Challenge To Your Mental Health

Reactions to setbacks are some of the greatest reasons why such setbacks can cause your mental health to take a hit, explains Psychology Today. The publication notes that some people have a tendency to employ drastic and extreme measures when confronted with setbacks. More often than not, drastic and extreme reactions to setbacks are not healthy; this is why knowing the right coping strategies makes such a huge difference.

The Emotional Factor

The emotional factor of setbacks is one reason why these challenges can greatly impact mental health. Many people become emotionally attached to the goals they set, even if they don’t consciously realize this. Being emotionally attached to goals is fine, but knowing healthy coping strategies when you're thrown off course is imperative. With the right knowledge and mindset, setbacks can easily be turned into positives that only sweeten the eventual victory of accomplishing the desired endgame.

Fear Of What Others Might Believe

Constructive coping skills for facing setbacks are important; of equal importance is not allowing the fear of what others might believe keep you from moving forward. In many cases, people are vocal about their plans, goals, and other intentions with the people they spend time with.

When setbacks arise, apprehension of what other people might think if they knew about these setbacks is often an additional roadblock. It is important to recognize when this is happening and remember that a person cannot control what other people think and that ultimately, what other people think does not have an impact on the outcome of how the setback is handled.

The Best Coping Skills For Facing Setbacks

In life, setbacks can arise suddenly, unexpectedly, and during the most inopportune times. Approach to healthy coping mechanisms can only benefit you and preserve the quality of your mental health. The following are five coping skills you can employ to help you deal with setbacks.

Find The Learning Opportunity

When faced with setbacks in life, finding the learning opportunity is one of the healthiest coping strategies. The American Psychological Association notes the importance of conducting a “situational analysis” when faced with setbacks; such an analysis is what helps turn a seemingly negative situation into a positive one.

What better way to do this than to determine ways you can learn from the setback you have faced? In the long run, coming to this realization can only benefit your mental health and ensure that you are better prepared for any setbacks which present themselves later.

Consider An Alternative Path Forward

Similar to finding the learning opportunity in setbacks, considering an alternative path forward is also on the list of great coping strategies. Make no mistake: looking at a different path forward doesn’t mean that you should switch or even give up on a goal; it simply means that there is almost always more than one way of getting somewhere. When dealing with a setback in your personal life, one of the best things to do for your mental health is to figure out a way to keep moving forward.

Finding an alternative path for going forward doesn’t always happen overnight…and that’s OK. Sometimes, determining another route takes time, thought, and reflection. Each of these things can also benefit your mental health and allow you to learn from setbacks.

Don’t Succumb To Negative Thinking

The National Institute of Mental Health details the plethora of ways that negative thinking can impact your mental health or exacerbate existing problems. In many cases, it’s fair to say that facing setbacks in life can (at least temporarily) increase the vulnerability of a person’s emotional and/or mental health. For this reason, not succumbing to negative thinking and remaining positive is easier said than done, yet absolutely critical.

Remaining positive as a coping skill does not mean denying that you’re faced with a setback. However, positive thinking means remembering that despite the present setback, you are still capable. Not succumbing to negative thinking will not only benefit your mental health, but it will also increase the likelihood of a temporary setback not becoming permanent. Sometimes, it’s not the setback that does people in, but the manner in which people react; this is why healthy coping strategies are so imperative.

Take A Break

Due to the impact that setbacks can have on emotional and mental health, sometimes, taking a break is one of the best coping skills. The willingness to take a break doesn’t mean giving up on a goal you’ve been working to achieve; it simply means clearing your head, regrouping, and later returning to the situation with a fresh mindset and potentially new ideas.

We All Have Setbacks, But The Way You Cope Makes A Difference

The temptation to try bulldozing through setbacks is often a factor; sometimes, this can work, but in other cases, you will be much better off to pause and come back at a later date and time. Many great goals in life take time, effort, and persistence to achieve.

Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

Keeping good company and spending time with people who have your best interests at heart is a fantastic addition to this list of coping skills. Believe it or not, being around other people can actually ease the process of coping in the face of setbacks.

Surrounding yourself with loved ones is not only good for your mental health, but it can also provide an outlet for you to vent and express your thoughts with others. In turn, you can release pent-up emotions and possibly even learn something from the feedback you get in return. Knowing the right coping strategies is great but being around people who can help you as you cope also makes a positive difference.

Final Thoughts On Healthy Coping Skills

Just about everyone has their own methods of coping in the face of setbacks. Whichever path you take, you should make sure that your chosen coping strategies are good for your mental health.

Some important information to remember is that not all setbacks are negative. As a matter of fact, there are times when setbacks can be blessings in disguise. Sometimes, you may be getting ready to make a mistake; a setback could actually prevent you from going down a wrong path or making a decision that you might regret later.

Regardless of what setbacks you may be facing, you can only benefit from developing healthy coping skills. In the long run, the right coping mechanisms can become habits for future times when you are faced with setbacks. Even if you have not always responded to past setbacks in the best way, it is never too late to turn over a new leaf or make a change.

Many of the greatest and most inspirational success stories are of individuals who faced, coped with, and subsequently overcame setbacks. You can do the same.

Seeking Professional Support For Coping With Setbacks

The five coping skills listed above can definitely come in handy when you find yourself facing setbacks in life. That being said, professional support while following your own coping mechanisms is also highly recommended. A professional may be able to provide personalized coping skills that are uniquely applicable to you and your situation.

Contrary to what some people might believe, there is nothing wrong with asking for mental health support or guidance. Doing so does not make you less of a person or detract from who you are; as a matter of fact, when you work with a mental health specialist, you are increasing the likelihood of actually growing as a person and becoming a better version of yourself.

If you determine that professional support is something you’re interested in, you can sign up for online therapy with BetterHelp. You will be able to connect with your therapist at any time in a variety of convenient methods: live video sessions, phone sessions, live chat, and messaging. Whether you are working on developing healthy coping skills, facing setbacks, or dealing with an entirely different issue, working with an online therapist can change your life.

Many participants have found that online therapy challenged them, allowed them to learn more about themselves, and develop life and interpersonal skills. Online therapy comes with many benefits and possibilities. An online therapist can help you develop coping skills, overcome setbacks, and take on any additional challenges in your life. BetterHelp looks forward to being in your corner as you take steps towards a brighter, fulfilling, and promising future.

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