Coping Skills for Anxiety or Depression 13/30 How to Process Emotions (2023)


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Coping skills can be really important for anxiety. They often soothe or comfort us, and they help us calm down and make better choices. However, coping skills do nothing to solve our problems in the long term, and some of them, if used exclusively, can be harmful. Coping skills help us take a break from our discomfort, but also from our life purpose. So that’s why I get a little bugged when I hear that the only skill someone is learning in therapy is how to cope.
Using coping skills to get through a crisis and get calm and then coming back and resolving the problem is the best long-term practice. This ability to pause before choosing an action is an essential skill of emotionally resilient people.

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Therapy in a Nutshell, LLC, and the information provided by Emma McAdam are solely intended for informational and entertainment purposes and are not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding medical or mental health conditions. Although Emma McAdam is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the views expressed on this site or any related content should not be taken for medical or psychiatric advice. Always consult your physician before making any decisions related to your physical or mental health.

In therapy I use a combination of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Systems Theory, positive psychology, and a bio-psycho-social approach to treating mental illness and other challenges we all face in life. The ideas from my videos are frequently adapted from multiple sources. Many of them come from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, especially the work of Steven Hayes, Jason Luoma, and Russ Harris. The sections on stress and the mind-body connection derive from the work of Stephen Porges (the Polyvagal theory), Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing) Francine Shapiro (EMDR), and Bessel Van Der Kolk. I also rely heavily on the work of the Arbinger institute for my overall understanding of our ability to choose our life's direction.
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Do, you ever feel like your brain falls out when you're emotional? Do you act stupid when you're infatuated? or you make bad decisions when you're scared or angry? Well, most people, do.

And, there's a good reason for that.


The rational part of your brain shuts down when it perceives a threat.

It, doesn't want complex thinking to get in the way of survival.


Examples of this, for our ancestor could have been needing to run away from a tiger or needing to eat something high in calories, so they didn't starve to death or falling in love so that they could reproduce.


We experience all these same emotions when things get intense, but the circumstances are quite different.

Our brain may enter survival mode when getting feedback from our boss at work or when we have to talk to a big group of people.

We may shut down when getting a bad grade on a school assignment or when we get rejected by a crush.


These circumstances, allowing the brain to regress into survival mode, into our emotionally reactive limbic system is not the best.


We all need a way to slow things down and think clearly so that we can make better choices, help us move through these uncomfortable situations.

Instead of just reacting to them., Our brain and our emotions are incredible, powerful, wonderful, things, but sometimes emotions make us act kind of stupid.


This video you're going to learn 25 coping skills to help with anxiety, depression, and intense emotions.

Coping skills are techniques you can use to get out of your emotional brain back into your rational brain so that you can think clearly again.

The other day I had a client who was 20 minutes late, and do you know what I did? I read key insights from Extreme Productivity and half of The Worry-Free mind on the Blinkist app.

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Out; you're, gonna love, it., When I was volunteering in Argentina for a year and a half.

We had a situation where we had been working really hard to help people, really pouring our souls out to try to help people improve their lives, and we were like physically, emotionally, spiritually, giving everything we had.

One day during a meeting.

One of our local leaders, the man who was supposed to be supporting the work we were doing.

He basically told us that all the people we were working with were losers and that there was no hope and that we were doing a terrible job.

We finished that meeting late at night.

We were exhausted.

We were angry, we were discouraged.


My coworker called the president in tears.

We were ready to just quit in that area, and our leader listened carefully and he said Hey Hermanas, go to bed.

Things will look better in the morning.

And and he was right.


We took a break.

We came back to the problem refreshed after a night's sleep.

We were able to go back to that leader with clarity to, you know, confront the issue.


We were able to do a lot of good in that town.

So in this video you're, going to learn all about coping skills., If you're, feeling like you're in crisis.

If you feel like you're, going to make bad choices, if you're afraid you might self-harm, or if you're, just so emotional that you can't think clearly, halt.


This is an acronym to help.

You remember that if you're hungry, angry, lonely, tired.

Or, if you're on substances or if you're, severely depressed or severely anxious or whatever, pause., Slow yourself down and reach out to the resources.

So in the rest of this video, we're going to talk about some of the coping skills you can use, and we're going to develop a little bit of a crisis plan for the people you can connect with in case, you know.

Something comes up that feels a little too big for you to handle in the moment.

Coping skills are activities that we can do that help us calm, down., Many of the best ones incorporate brain and body and don't have negative side effects like emotional eating or drugs do, right.


This is just a short list;.

There are hundreds of things that people can do to calm themselves.


And, as you may know, from my previous video Why I Hate Coping Skills, I'm, obviously not a huge fan of relying only on coping skills, but coping skills really do serve an important function in the short term.


Often soothe or comfort us and help us calm down and make better choices.

But coping skills do nothing to solve our problems in the long term, and some of them, if used exclusively, can be harmful.

Coping skills help us take a break from our discomfort, but also from our life purpose.


That's why I get a little bugged when I hear that the only skill someone is learning in therapy is how to cope.

Use coping skills to get through a crisis, to get calm, and then come back and resolve the problem.

This ability to pause before choosing an action is an essential skill of emotionally resilient people.


We develop emotional muscles.

We develop greater capacity to accept and resolve issues that come up for us.


There will be times when we can't process the whole issue.

All at once.

One definition of trauma is something that happens to us faster than we can process it.


We react immediately when we haven't had a chance to work through our thoughts, feelings, and physical reactions.

Then our actions often make things worse.

On, the other hand.

If we just avoid the problem, we also suffer.

So, when an issue is just really big, or perhaps the time or place, isn't right or safe for processing, we can use coping skills to keep ourselves calm or safe until we can go back to the problem and resolve it.

As, you go through this list.

It's important to find a few coping skills that work for you in various settings.

So find some that you can use at home, some for work, and others for when you're in a group of people.

So, let's jump in.

First, there are sensory.

Coping skills.

These are helpful because they incorporate various parts of the brain and body and they can soothe the core brain, that limbic brain where the fight flight freeze response stems.


These include stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, taking a walk, listening to music, feeling a comfortable texture - like a child holding a blanket or an adult, holding a rosary, - smelling an enjoyable smell, getting a massage, exercise, taking a hot shower or a cold face, wash, knitting or sewing, or building something.


Let's talk about cognitive coping skills.

These can help us process through the thoughts related to the emotion.


These can include writing everything down like with a brain, dump, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, prayer, coloring, guided imagery, and progressive muscle, relaxation.

Let's talk about active coping skills.

These can help us feel safe and supported while facing challenges, right.

So there's playing an instrument, making some music, humor, watching a funny clip on YouTube, watching TV.

So be really careful.

- TV and most things with screens are powerful distractions that take up and turn off much of the brain and essentially prevent the brain from resolving issues.


If you find yourself getting trapped watching too much TV, then I would say: don't use this one as a coping skill., It's, fine in the short term or even in a crisis, but in the long run it's not going to help you out.


Other coping skills include reading a book, doing a crossword, getting out in nature, planting some seeds, give yourself a facial, or expressing your emotions through art or music.


Let's talk about some connection: coping skills., Hug, someone, pet, an animal, talk it out with a friend, write, a letter to someone, or write out your difficulty in an email before talking with them.

Now, using coping skills to avoid our problems can create a dependency on that activity.

I've actually worked with people who have addictions to many of these coping skills.

So I've, seen addictions to TV, to shopping, to food, drugs, alcohol.

I've, seen addictions to Scrabble, video games, social media, eating, exercise, and other coping skills.

So again.

The way to tell if a coping skill is helpful is not only if it makes you feel good, but if it helps you return to resolve the problem.

Healthy coping skills.

Leave you feeling better, the more you do.


But I mean better in the long run.

So write down three activities that you can use to calm down when you're feeling overwhelmed with emotions, and try to think of at least one that will work in a different environment., So work, home or school etc., and then write down three people who you could contact in case of a mental health crisis.

Who are your three go-to people that you could call if you're in crisis.

Now? If you're experiencing a severe mental health crisis right now, please go to your local hospital or call 9-1-1.

And I'd like you to research for your crisis, plan, you know,! What are some of the mental health resources in your area,? So what hotlines could you use.

Now for example, in my country and state? There are a few resources.

There's, the national suicide prevention lifeline and there's Safe Utah.

Both of these.

Allow you to chat with a crisis.

Counselor live either on the phone or through text messaging.


If you'd like to learn more about coping skills and self-care, you can check out my course on on that topic.

The link is in the description.


You work to develop your coping skills, you'll, develop a greater ability to slow yourself, down, make better choices, and get through those crises that do come.


Thank you for watching, and please take care.

This video is one skill from my 30-skill course: How to Process Your Emotions, where I teach 30 of the most essential skills for resolving depression, anxiety, and improving mental health.

Emotion processing is an essential skill for working through intense emotions, but most people have never been taught how to do.


I'm, putting every single main video lesson on YouTube for the world to access for free.

You, watching these videos, sharing them, contributing to my Patreon and my sponsors make this possible.


You would like to access the entire course in one place: ad free with its workbook, exercises, downloads, extra videos, live Q&A's, additional short readings and links to extended resources.

The link to buy the course is in the description, below.


What are the 5 types of coping strategies? ›

There are five main types of coping skills: problem-focused strategies, emotion-focused strategies, meaning making, social support, and religious coping.

What are some coping skills to improve mental emotional health? ›

Problem-Based and Emotion-Based Coping Skills
  • Establishing healthy boundaries.
  • Creating a to-do list.
  • Walking away from a stressful situation.
  • Asking for support from friends, family, or a professional.
  • Practicing time management & problem-solving skills.
May 18, 2022

What are some coping skills for anxiety? ›

Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:
  • Keep physically active. ...
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  • Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  • Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  • Make sleep a priority. ...
  • Eat healthy foods. ...
  • Learn about your disorder.
Jul 20, 2021

How do you process emotions? ›

Process Feelings
  1. Draw how you're feeling.
  2. Make a gratitude list.
  3. Punch a pillow.
  4. Scream.
  5. Let yourself cry.
  6. Rip paper into small pieces.
  7. Vent. Venting is not the same as asking for help, it's taking an opportunity to share your feelings out loud.

How do you process difficult emotions? ›

6 Steps to Mindfully Deal With Difficult Emotions
  1. Step One: Turn toward your emotions with acceptance. ...
  2. Step Two: Identify and label the emotion. ...
  3. Step Three: Accept your emotions. ...
  4. Step Four: Realize the impermanence of your emotions. ...
  5. Step Five: Inquire and investigate. ...
  6. Step Six: Let go of the need to control your emotions.
Sep 14, 2016

What are 3 examples of emotion-focused coping strategies? ›

5 emotion-focused coping examples and strategies
  • Journaling. Journaling can be an excellent way to become more aware of and deal with painful emotions. ...
  • Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a way to notice your emotions about a stressful event in a nonjudgmental way. ...
  • Forgiveness. ...
  • Acceptance. ...
  • Talking about it.
Jun 6, 2022

What are the 4 A's of coping? ›

Happy events, such as a wedding, as well as unhappy events, such as overwork, can cause stress. When your stress level exceeds your ability to cope, you need to restore the balance by reducing the stressors or increasing your ability to cope or both. Try using one of the four A's: avoid, alter, accept or adapt.

What are the four R's of coping? ›

In a series of graphics, Earnshaw breaks down the 4 Rs: relabeling, reattributing, refocusing, and revaluing—a therapy technique developed by psychology Jeffrey Schwartz that's often used in treatment for OCD.

What are 3 positive coping skills? ›

Some common coping mechanisms may challenge you to: Lower your expectations. Ask others to help or assist you. Take responsibility for the situation.

What are 3 strategies you could use when faced with anxiety? ›

Coping Strategies
  • Take a time-out. ...
  • Eat well-balanced meals. ...
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. ...
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. ...
  • Take deep breaths. ...
  • Count to 10 slowly. ...
  • Do your best.
Sep 8, 2010

What are the 5 C's of anxiety? ›

The 5Cs are competence, confidence, character, caring, and connection. The anxiety dimensions are Social anxiety, Physical symptoms, Separation anxiety, and Harm avoidance.

What is the top five ways to cope with anxiety? ›

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety
  • Challenge Anxious Thoughts. Those who experience anxiety have to deal with a lot of irrational and negative thoughts. ...
  • Recognize Your Negative Thinking Patterns. ...
  • Cultivate An Optimistic Outlook. ...
  • Take Time for Yourself. ...
  • Create An Anti-Anxiety Toolbox.

How do you process emotions and let them go? ›

Letting It Go: Getting Past Negative Emotions
  1. Identify the emotion. Is it anger? ...
  2. Remember that emotions aren't "bad" or "good". ...
  3. Feel the feeling for a bit, without judgment. ...
  4. Offer yourself some perspective. ...
  5. Practice releasing the emotion (and releasing yourself from its grasp).

What is an example of emotional processing? ›

For example, someone who has suffered the loss of a significant other would be reminded about or asked to speak about the dead person. If they still respond with an intense emotional reaction then it can be assumed that satisfactory emotional processing has not taken place.

What are the skills of emotional processing? ›

Emotional processing is defined as: approaching, accepting, symbolizing, tolerating, regulating, making meaning of, and utilizing or transforming emotions.

Why do I feel like I can't process emotions? ›

Alexithymia is when a person has difficulty experiencing, identifying, and expressing emotions. It is not a mental health disorder but has links with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and various other conditions. It can occur with autism.

What is emotional processing therapy? ›

Emotional Processing Therapy is a therapy that regards the person's emotional life as the central point of treatment. It is all about emotions, how to deal with them and the best way to resolve emotional pain. Emotional Processing Therapy could be the main approach or an adjunct to other therapies.

What are the three common emotional processes? ›

Emotional experiences have three components: a subjective experience, a physiological response and a behavioral or expressive response.

What are the two emotion-focused coping methods? ›

Drug therapy can be seen as emotion-focused coping as it focuses on the arousal caused by stress, not the problem. Other emotion-focused coping techniques include: Distraction, e.g., keeping yourself busy to take your mind off the issue. Emotional disclosure.

What is one way to practice emotion-focused coping? ›

The benefits of emotion-focused coping typically include less stress, anxiety, and depression, and improvements in overall well-being. There are many ways to practice emotion-focused coping, including meditation, journaling, and finding social support.

What is emotion-focused coping and anxiety? ›

Emotion-focused coping is a construct which represents a variety of cognitions and behaviors initiated during stressful encounters and aimed at tolerating or reducing the physiological activation and emotional reactions of the stressed person without solving the actual problem.

What are the five C's for coping with stress? ›

The five C's - clarity, choice, control, conditioning and confidence- are tools that can help one learn to respond to stress in a healthier, more productive manner, said Jeffrey Mangrum, a Chicago-based trainer.

What are the 4 A's of anxiety? ›

When deciding which option to choose, it's helpful to think of the four A's: avoid, alter, adapt or accept. Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it.

What is coping checklist? ›

Definition. The Ways of Coping Checklist (WCCL) is a measure of coping based on Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) stress and coping theory. The WCCL contains 66 items that describe thoughts and acts that people use to deal with the internal and/or external demands of specific stressful encounters.

What is the 5 4 3 2 1 coping technique? ›

This technique asks you to find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Using this with someone who feels anxious will help to calm them down and reduce their feelings of anxiety.

What are the big 5 coping? ›

Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Openness are associated with a stress-is-a-challenge mindset, greater coping flexibility, and a lower level of psychological distress.

What are the 8 different coping strategies? ›

8 Popular Coping Methods and What They Mean
  • Distancing. ...
  • Confrontation. ...
  • Seeking Support. ...
  • Self-Controlling. ...
  • Accepting Responsibility. ...
  • Problem Solving. ...
  • Positive Reappraisal. ...
  • Escape/Avoidance.
Dec 21, 2015

What is the most used coping mechanism? ›

Among the more commonly used adaptive coping mechanisms are: Support: Talking about a stressful event with a supportive person can be an effective way to manage stress.

How can I reduce stress and depression? ›

What you can do to address stress
  1. Be active. ...
  2. Take control. ...
  3. Connect with people. ...
  4. Have some "me time" ...
  5. Challenge yourself. ...
  6. Avoid unhealthy habits. ...
  7. Help other people. ...
  8. Work smarter, not harder.

What are 3 unhealthy coping skills? ›

Some of the most common unhealthy coping mechanisms are:
  • Avoiding issues. ...
  • Sleeping too much. ...
  • Excessive drug or alcohol use. ...
  • Impulsive spending. ...
  • Over or under eating.

How do I overcome overthinking and anxiety? ›

These tips can help you move in the right direction.
  1. Step back and look at how you're responding. ...
  2. Find a distraction. ...
  3. Take a deep breath. ...
  4. Meditate. ...
  5. Look at the bigger picture. ...
  6. Do something nice for someone else. ...
  7. Recognize automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) ...
  8. Acknowledge your successes.

What is a simple intervention for anxiety? ›

Some ways to manage anxiety disorders include learning about anxiety, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, correct breathing techniques, dietary adjustments, exercise, learning to be assertive, building self-esteem, cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, structured problem solving, medication and support groups.

What is the most effective method for anxiety? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally a short-term treatment, CBT focuses on teaching you specific skills to improve your symptoms and gradually return to the activities you've avoided because of anxiety.

What is the 3 3 3 method for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

What is the core root of anxiety? ›

It describes the arrival of a “core fear” — one's overriding interpretation of life as dangerous, and a “chief defense” — one's primary strategy for protecting oneself from that danger. The core fear and chief defense create a singular dynamic that, according to the model, is the true wellspring of basic anxiety.

What are the 6 anxiety reducing tips? ›

6 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety
  • If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, know that you are not alone. Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S., according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. ...
  • Eat a Nutritious Diet. ...
  • Get Moving. ...
  • Practice Positive Self-Talk. ...
  • Get More Sleep. ...
  • Distract Yourself.
Sep 26, 2017

What triggers anxiety? ›

Difficult experiences in childhood, adolescence or adulthood are a common trigger for anxiety problems. Going through stress and trauma when you're very young is likely to have a particularly big impact. Experiences which can trigger anxiety problems include things like: physical or emotional abuse.

How I healed my anxiety without drugs? ›

Anxiety Treatment Without Medication: 7 Holistic Ways to Cope
  1. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check. ...
  2. Avoid Stimulants. ...
  3. Get Enough Sleep. ...
  4. Just Breathe. ...
  5. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Do What You Enjoy. ...
  8. Where to Get Help.
Dec 6, 2017

What are the 4 steps when coping with your emotions? ›

Here is are the 4 Steps:
  • Step 1: Notice & Accept your Emotion. When you notice a negative emotion or thought entering your mental space, stop, take a deep breath and actively acknowledge your emotion. ...
  • Step 2: Metabolise the Emotion & Extract the Lesson. Ask yourself: ...
  • Step 3: Reframe. Ask yourself: ...
  • Step 4: Release.
Feb 27, 2018

What are 4 ways to express feelings and cope? ›

Accept your feelings rather than deny them. Avoid being judgmental of yourself and others. Practice how you'd express yourself by journaling your feelings. Be a good listener when people share things with you.

What are the 4 types of coping strategies? ›

Weiten has identified four types of coping strategies: appraisal-focused (adaptive cognitive), problem-focused (adaptive behavioral), emotion-focused, and occupation-focused coping.

How do you process emotions and heal? ›

Tips for healing from emotional wounds
  1. Take baby steps. ...
  2. Remember that you dont have to heal 100% to improve the quality of your life. ...
  3. Be patient and persistent. ...
  4. Set realistic expectations. ...
  5. View setbacks as part of the process and learning opportunities. ...
  6. Prioritize self-care and self-compassion.
Mar 22, 2019

What are the 7 primary process emotions? ›

Brain research supports the existence of at least seven primary-process (basic) emotional systems - SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, GRIEF (formerly PANIC), and PLAY - concentrated in ancient subcortical regions of all mammalian brains.

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