Coping skills work if you work them!
A coping skill is something to try when you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions. It's a way to help your body and mind take a break so that you can come back to the situation at hand and attend to problem solve.
Sometimes there's not a solution and then it's time to work on acceptance.
It's important to note that coping skills are meant to be PLANNED and TEMPORARY.
They are not meant to make you feel happy. They are meant to help you manage a difficult situation without making a self-destructive choice that could make the situation worse.
Here's our three-step plan for using coping skills effectively:
Know the warning signs of overwhelm. Catch that very first sign that your emotions are shifting and become aware of your urges and behaviors that coincide with your difficult mood. It may be helpful to rate your mood from 0 to 10 so that you can assess the situation and best communicate your feelings to others.
Choose a coping skill to try and commit to it for at least 15 minutes. Rate your mood again and decide if the skill you chose has been helpful. If it has, you can continue with this or try something else. If it hasn't, choose another skill from your list. (It's helpful to have a list of skills to try BEFORE you're in crisis since thinking rationally when your emotions are high is more difficult.
Re-evaluate and rate your mood. Return to step one as needed. If you feel calm and capable of having a conversation, it may be helpful to try to problem solve or talk out the situation with a trusted friend or professional.
Check out this AMAZING list of coping skills that our campers came up with in DBT Summer Camp...
Want a list of 100 more positive activities to help your teen cope?
Invite them to do some activities together with you and encourage them to engage in a few on their own or with friends too! It's all about surrounding your teen with positive supports and healthy activities so that they can have a break from overwhelming emotions until they are calm enough to problem solve or work through the situation that's causing distress.