Healthy Coping Skills
After nearly a decade of being in the Social Work world, I've probably heard and used the words "coping skills" at least a million times.
So what are coping skills and how on Earth are they going to help you through your loved one's addiction?
A coping skill can be anything.
We all have coping skills.
Some are healthy, some are not so healthy.
The goal of any coping skill is to ease whatever hurt we are experiencing.
But the goal of a healthy coping skill is to ease the hurt, while at the same time promoting safety and wellbeing.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have some useful tools that you could utilize during times of intense difficult emotion that would not only get you through the struggle, but leave you better off in the long run?
Dear Heavenly Father,
We pray for those struggling with an addiction and those impacted by a loved one's addiction. We ask for strength and courage to endure the difficult times we face here on Earth.
We pray that you would lead us to healthy coping skills and away from unhealthy coping skills.
We pray that you give us wisdom and guidance to make wise choices that align with your will for our lives.
When we are tempted by what this world says we should do to make ourselves feel better, convict us to search your word for the Godly answer to what we should actually do to get through our struggles.
We thank you for your mercy and grace.
Use us for your glory.
In Jesus Name,
Prayer is not only a coping skill, it's THE BEST coping skill
Have you ever heard the phrase "prayer changes things."
Well, it does.
The Bible talks about prayer hundreds of times.
We're told to pray without ceasing.
To pray about everything and with thanksgiving.
To pray for others and to ask for anything!
These are some bold statements.
If you have any experience with faith and trusting God then you know he wouldn't tell us anything that isn't true.
We can believe him!
However, there were times when I begged God to heal my loved one from her addiction and it didn't happen. At least not the way I wanted it to happen.
So how do we reconcile that?
How can his Word tell us to ask and it will be given to us and at the same time our prayer is not immediately granted like a genie.
He works in mysterious ways. While I was praying that she be healed from her addiction - God ultimately granted my prayer by calling her home to him. While I wish I could have had time with her while she was sober here on Earth, above all else I'm so grateful that she isn't suffering anymore. He really does provide peace that surpasses all understanding. I don't quite understand it, but what I do know is that we are to pray for his will to be done.
His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways.
So next time you are struggling and at a loss, searching for what to do. Reach out to The One who created it all. Be still and pray.
10 Healthy Coping Skills
As I said earlier, anything can be a coping skill.
Here is a list of our top 10 must try healthy coping skills.
We already talked in depth about our number one, most highly recommended coping skill: prayer.
Let's try out a few more.
Lift weights, go running, even a brisk walk, anything will do!
Get your heart pumping and the natural dopamine flowing.
Exercise is beneficial to your mental, physical, and emotional health.
When you are struggling with a difficult emotion get moving!
3. Arts and Crafts
Many people find drawing, painting or coloring to be therapeutic, even if you don't see yourself as a particularly creative person.
Today's rehabilitation centers and therapy offices are filled with "adult coloring books."
Jump on the bandwagon and see if a little time concentrating on something crafty can help ease your difficult emotions.
4. Deep Breathing
This might be the simplest of all the coping skills.
It's so easy, that a lot people write it off without giving it a try.
Don't be that person!
When our emotions are running high, we tend to take short, shallow breaths and deprive our brain of oxygen.
Taking deep breaths can slow down your thoughts, while slowing your breathing.
5. Talk it out
Sometimes all we really need is a listening ear.
Other times we need advice, positive feedback, or constructive criticism.
Whatever it is you're looking for, share your feelings with a trusted friend, spouse, or therapist.
Talking through our struggles can lift heavy burdens from our shoulders.
Your Praying Friend is always available to pray with you.
A listening ear may not always be readily available.
Other times, we may just need to get our thoughts straight or work through somethings on our own. It's hard to have a conversation about difficult situations or emotions, when you may not completely understand them yourself.
This is where journaling can help.
Sometimes we are so focused on just getting through the day or a specific circumstance that we haven't given much thought to how we feel or what we are going to do.
Utilize your journal to develop a plan of action or simply as a resource to release bottled up emotion.
If you find yourself battling writer's block or struggling with where to begin, check out these helpful journaling prompts.
Gratitude is one of my most favorite coping skills!
It's so hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are busy counting your blessings.
When we are wrapped up in the chaos of a loved one's addiction we can easily slip into a victim mentality or "poor me" frame of mind.
That's not to minimize the things we experience, they are rough.
However, practicing gratitude just might be your saving grace.
When our loved one is making poor decisions and negatively impacting our life or our minds we can regain control by drawing our attention to all the things we are thankful for.
For more information on gratitude check out our previous post.
8. Join a Support Group
If there's one thing COVID has taught us - it's how to connect online.
There are so many support groups offered through Facebook and Zoom now, there's no excuse for not building a network of encouraging friends that can relate to your experience and help you through these difficult times.
However, if you can get to a meeting in person that's even better!
ALANON is offered in many areas.
Churches and your local rehab may also offer services.
Do a quick search and see what you can find.
Get connected with others that have gone through what you're going through.
You are not alone!
Women Connect is a great resource that focuses on women helping women.
The facilitator is amazing and the weekly Zoom meetings are always uplifting.
Sorry guys, that one is just for the ladies, but if you need help finding resources in your area shoot us an email and we will do our best to assist you!
9. Me time
Self-care, better known as "treat yo self" is trending these days.
But what does that word really mean.
It means we can't pour from an empty cup.
It means we can't take care of others if we don't first take care of ourselves.
It's the same philosophy as the stewardess on the plane reminding you to place the oxygen over your face, prior to assisting anyone else with theirs.
If you pass out, you're no help to anyone else AND now you've actually made the problem significantly worse, right?
So take care of yourself. Whatever that looks like for you - you decide.
It might seem contradictory to talk about serving others immediately following self-care, but they're in that order for a reason.
Once your cup is full - share it.
"It is a blessing to be a blessing."
Serving others is full of irony.
When we bless others it helps us to feel fulfilled and in turn we are blessed.
Often times we are consumed with desperation, just urning to help our loved one.
If they are not open to receiving help at this time, focus that energy on someone who is.
It could be something as simple as checking on an elderly neighbor or smiling at a stranger.
When we spread love, even through our struggle, we are choosing joy!
Who can you help today?
We hope you found this list of coping skills helpful.
We'd love for you to share this message with a friend.
Until Next Time,
Your Praying Friend
Substance Abuse Counselor