Coping statements are another way to frame your thinking.
When we worry about things that we are expecting to happen, anxiety can twist a simple thought into a fear-inducing stress producing nightmare.
It’s easy to laugh at Mark Twain’s observation about himself.
“I have experienced a great many bad things in my lifetime, some of which have actually come true.”
It seems to me he had met anxiety a time or two. The reality of anxiety is not often rooted in facts. But that doesn’t make its impact on us any less real.
In the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, (*) the author’s talk about how for some people:
Emotional and physical pain feels more intense and occurs more frequently.
This distress comes on more quickly and can feel like an overwhelming tidal wave. Often, these situations feel like they will never end, and the people experiencing them do not know how to cope with the overwhelming emotions.
In previous blog posts, I wrote about my 10 unhealthy thinking styles and 12 better questions I can ask to see past whatever depression and anxiety have created. The two mental health issues often work in tandem. They double up their strength and together slam me against the wall with a colossal power-punch.
I cannot tell you how glad I am to have made the decision to get professional help.
Until a few months ago, I had no idea what I was fighting, or why I was feeling everything (anxiety) or (depression) nothing. Not facing it seemed like a good strategy, but what turned out to be Major Depressive Disorder never really went away. Not facing it kept the skills and tools hidden from me because I did not know I needed them.
Now, more than ever, I know what anxiety and depression can do.
I have faced it for the first time and will be the better for that. I have found tools that I can use to reframe how I think about situations.
My anxiety level is heading back down, but it has been stratospheric at times. Coming across these and similar tools on the SMART website has helped me get the edge over anxiety. For your own copy, you can download them here.
22 Coping Statements for Dealing with Anxiety
- I don’t have to make myself anxious about anything or put myself down if I stupidly and foolishly do make myself anxious.
- My anxiety is bad, but I’m not bad.
- I don’t always have to feel comfortable, and it isn’t awful when I don’t.
- I can bear-and bear with-anxiety: it won’t kill me.
- It is not necessary to be in perfect control of my anxious moments. To demand that I be in control only multiplies my symptoms.
- Others are not required to treat me with kid gloves when I feel uncomfortable.
- The world doesn’t have to make it easy for me to get a handle on my anxiety.
- Anxiety is a part of life; it is not bigger than life.
- My over-reactive nervous system is a part of my life, but it’s not bigger than life.
- I can take my anxiety with me when going places and doing things that I am reluctant to do (or stay isolated).
- Controlling my anxiety is important, but hardly urgent.
- Comfort is nice, but not necessary.
- I don’t have to be the one person in the universe to feel comfortable all the time.
- I’d better not feel calm, relaxed, and serene all the time because if I did, I’d have one dickens of a time motivating myself.
- Anxiety and panic are burrs in my saddle: highly inconvenient and uncomfortable, but hardly awful.
- I don’t have to hassle myself or put myself down for not coping better with my anxiety.
- This, too, will likely pass.
- I can blend in with the flow of my anxiety; I don’t have to go tooth-and-nail, head-on with it.
- If I feel anxious, I feel anxious… tough!
- I may have my anxiety, but I am not my anxiety.
- I don’t have to shame or demean myself for anything-including creating tight knots in my gut.
- Feelings of awkwardness, nervousness, or queasiness may interfere with my projects, but they do not have to ruin them.
The list is helpful, but I would not think, in #1, that I was stupid or foolish for feeling anxious.
It is a part of the disease I have. It is not how I choose to feel when I am not anxious. But I can see what the authors are thinking. And some people label more than others. Before the hospital, I wasn’t aware of labeling. Now I hear it everywhere.
Labeling is the one unhelpful thinking style out of 10, that I use the least. In the first days after I got out of the hospital, I wrote that labeling was something I did not do. I was guilty of the other 9 unhelpful thinking styles, but I never labeled. Then I learned the truth. I was labeling myself, too.
When I reframe the labeling into a positive statement, things get better.
When I use these coping statements as I think about my anxiety, I can be more realistic about what I am thinking. “Anxiety is bad, I am not bad.” This is a great way of reframing my thoughts.
Yes, I am anxious and that is not good. But being anxious doesn’t make me a bad person.
I am going to put a copy of these 22 coping statements in a strategic place and practice using them. Another tool to keep my anxiety and depression from being my boss.
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