Coping Skills – What are they and why do we need them?

Welcome to the first installment of a series of posts that will be focused on coping skills. In this
first post, I’d like to focus on two things- what exactly are coping skills and why do we need

Oftentimes, when we experience any sort of change in life it can lead to experiencing
psychological stress. Psychological stress refers to a person’s emotional, behavioral, and
biological response to a “perceived threat” in their environment. This type of response activates
what is called the Sympathetic Nervous System in our bodies. The SNS regulates blood pressure,
heart rate, and affects the immune system. High rates of stress lead to a compromised body,
physically. Mentally and emotionally, psychosocial stressors often prompt reactions of
depression, anxiety, impaired concentration and decision making capabilities, a feeling of
disconnect from the environment and those around you, and intrusive/negative thoughts.

Psychological stressors can in all shapes and forms. Events that are perceived to be both positive
and negative can prompt a stress response. Some examples include a break-up, getting a new job,
moving to a new city, experiencing the loss of a family member, and so on. As a response to
stress and the side effects that accompany it, the body and the mind will search for a way to cope
in an effort to battle the body’s reactions and try to maintain stable mental health and emotional

Developing coping skills can help you tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful or
uncomfortable situations in life. Of course, a person can develop both healthy and unhealthy
coping skills. For example, a negative coping skill would be utilizing excessive amounts of
alcohol in order to deal getting fired from a job. Within this series, we will be exploring a new
healthy coping skill each week.

Learning and honing an array of coping skills will allow you to not only be able to tackle any
major stressors that may be currently affecting your life at this moment, but will give you the
chance to better deal with events that occur in the future. Not every person finds the same
success in each coping skill, so remember to keep at it and find the strategies that work for you!

In the next post, we will be exploring the use of breathing exercises…

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