If you haven’t tried coping statements lately, you are in for a surprise.
Getting straight talk about using coping statements has been a goal of mine. I have seen these skills in action and wanted to be able to us coping strategies or coping statements to help me lead a more balanced life. In my situation, I want to lead a balanced life with depression. Others may be struggling with other challenges.
In this article you will:
- Find Definitions of Coping Statements.
- See examples of coping statements, skills, and strategies.
- Identify what is coping behavior.
- Learn how to use Coping Statements and how not to.
Definitions of Coping Statements
Coping means to invest one’s own conscious effort, to solve personal and interpersonal problems, in order to try to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict. The psychological coping mechanisms are commonly termed coping strategies or coping skills. Wikipedia
The methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. These may help a person face a situation, take action, and be flexible and persistent in solving problems.
Self-Efficacy is another term that is getting around these days:
According to Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation.
Now I do not know about you, but to me, this Self-efficacy sounds like a coping statement.
The whole idea of a coping statement is to verbalize statements that will calm you down, and help you get back in control. For me, I hate not being in control. Getting hepped up by a situation, stress, anxiety, or my depression, my ability to succeed becomes suspect.
Reducing stress and conflict is the definition of coping statements and what they can do.
Investing in your effort is a key part of what coping statements are all about. Then you will be able to exert some control over the problem. As you become more consistent in using coping statements, you will also begin to feel more confident and in control.
Remember though, you can only control your thoughts about something or someone. You can decide how you will think about any situation that causes you stress, anxiety, or in my case, anything that impacts my depression.
Defining coping statements is the first step towards using them effectively.
Examples of Coping Statements, Skills, and Strategies
I have collected over 101 coping statements for my depression. And these can be adapted to any situation. Repeating one or more either to myself, or even out loud, my stress level is reduced, I feel calmer and more in control.
People can say hurtful things, sometimes without realizing it.
And when they do mean it, there is a flood of endorphins that agitate me and make it harder to concentrate. This makes it harder to calm down and feel in control. With out the use of coping statements and/or coping strategies, these feeling can overwhelm me.
Here are the first ten on my list:
- Stop, and breathe, I can do this!
- This will pass.
- I can be anxious/angry/sad and still deal with this.
- I have done this before, and I can do it again.
- This feels bad, it is a normal body reaction. It will pass.
- This feels bad, and feelings are very often wrong.
- These are just feelings; they will go away.
- This won`t last forever.
- Short term pain for long term gain
- I can feel bad and still choose to take a new and healthy direction.
“I have done this before, and I can do it again” is one of my favorite coping statements.
Often, the situation is something I have seen or been through before. Understanding this makes it easier to picture a positive outcome. I can take a moment to step back and picture what I did last time this happened. Even better, I can visualize the positive outcome that was the result of this situation.
Knowing that I have done this successfully, I visualize that success.
This calms me, gives a sense of control and let’s me face the situation armed with an attitude that will give me the best outcome.
Now I did not make up visualization. [ This is a great strategy]
Athletes have used this for decades. I have applied it to my golf game. Before striking the ball, I stand behind it. Look at the fairway, or green and see what type of shot is needed. Then, I see myself hitting that shot. I see the ball rising and then dropping where I intend it to hit. Then it bounces and rolls towards the target.
I only have one specialty shot and I call that my “drop dead” shot.
I visualize the ball going almost straight up. It rises over water or a sand trap near the green. Having hit it so high, it barely moves when it hits the green. If I have judged the distance correctly, I have been known to do a little fist pump as it stops near the hole.
For me, saying coping statement out loud works.
Especially when I visualize what I am saying. This can be seeing myself doing it in the past or picturing how I will do it right now. With the confidence I have after this exercise, I feel more in control and can face the situation.
Here are another Ten Coping statements I have collected:
- I choose to see this challenge as an opportunity.
- Using my coping skills, I can get through this.
- Learn from this and it will be easier next time.
- Keep calm and carry on.
- Fighting this doesn’t help – so I’ll just relax and breathe deeply and let it float away.
- This feeling isn’t comfortable, but I can handle it.
- By relaxing through these feelings, I learn to face my fears.
- I can feel anxious and still deal with this situation.
- This is not a real emergency. I can slow down and think about what I need to do.
- This feeling will go away.
Now that I think about it, I use visualization in another way.
I have developed a strategy based on mindfulness meditation. When I meditate, the goal is to be in the moment. I often focus on my breathing. As I do this, thoughts come into my mind. Before mindfulness, I would fight these thoughts thinking to myself, “my mind is supposed to be empty,” And the more I would try not to think about the thought, the larger it would become until that was all I could think about.
Today, I use visualization when I have unhelpful thoughts.
First, I acknowledge that I am having the thought. It might be, “oh, my life would be easier if I did not have depression.” Then, instead of engaging it and trying to make it not be in my head, I turn on my visualization strategy. I picture the thought on a big green leaf floating along a shallow, but fast moving, river. Watching the though as it floats on the leaf, it quickly gets smaller as it floats down river.
Soon, it has rounded the bend in the river, and it is gone.
I personally use this strategy a lot. It is helpful for things as mundane as being called into the office. As I walk towards the door, my mind can race to a thousand possible reasons why I am being called into the office. And 999 times out of a thousand, it is because my advice is needed, or I am needed for other positive reasons.
Unhelpful thinking can throw me a curve ball, making me anxious and causing my stress level to instantly go through the roof.
Then, by using a coping statement, I bring myself back down. The anxiousness dissipates and I am no longer stressful. Once again, I’ve done this before, I can do it again. Reminding myself that the past 73 times I have been called into the office, it was because someone needed me. It was not because I had done something wrong.
My coping statements and my visualization keep me in a stronger place, a place where I have control.
This is another 10 on my list of 101 coping statements:
- I’ll just do the best I can.
- By facing my fears I can overcome them.
- Worry doesn’t help.
- Whatever happens, happens. I can handle it.
- Having done this before, I can do it again
- Stay focused on the present. What do I need to do right now?
- It will soon be over.
- It’s not the worst thing that could happen.
- Step by step until it’s over.
- I don’t need to eliminate stress, just keep it under control.
WHAT IS COPING BEHAVIOR?
Coping behavior is defined as:
Coping is best defined as problem-solving behavior that is intended to bring about relief, reward, quiescence, and equilibrium.
In my previous example, I became anxious about being called into the office. My stress level went through the roof and waves of unfounded guilt would wash over me. My mind would gravitate to “I must have done something?” Unhelpful thinking would rush towards my brain.
But when I employ coping behavior, my mind is not dragged down the nearest rabbit hole.
I can visualize being in the office. Then I can say to myself “I’ve done this before; I can do it again.” And I can remember all the times in the past I have been called to the office and it was not because of something I had done. Even before reaching the office, I would have changed my attitude, which would bring me relief.
And the outcome would be a positive experience.
Right now, coping behaviors are easy for me. I get what needs to be done. Knowing how depression works, I see the underhanded ways it sneaks unhelpful thinking into my head. It wants me to be anxious. Depression loves it when I am unsure and in conflict.
In the dark days of my depression, seeing this was not as easy.
Two years ago, I could only see a wall. And even that was hard to visualize because I felt jammed up against it. There was no planning for the future. I did not have a path forward.
But I did find coping statements.
Keeping a few in my pocket, and my wallet, I could bring them out and read them to myself. And sometimes, I would believe them. Now things are markedly different. I have spent two years learning how to lead a balanced life with depression. And I am a believer in coping statements.
And exhibiting coping behaviors has been one of the best tools I have found to keep me in control while managing situations.
Using Coping Statements – The Good and the Bad
Now I must always keep in mind that there are many, many things I cannot control:
- The weather
- A global pandemic
- The outcome of probability events (dice games, card games, etc.)
- What other people do
- What other people think
It is important to remember that, in the end, there is only one thing that I can control.
What is that?
I can only control my attitude towards an event, person, situation, etc. With so much I cannot control, it would seem like only having one thing I can control would be limiting. But it most certainly is not. Being able to decide how I will see an event is extremely powerful. It is a superpower that many do not even know they have.
People often give up control.
I would have done so and so if it weren’t for “what they would say.” Personally, I have never met “they.” But I get that. Sometimes how we decide to think about a situation can be frightening. You can feel alone. Yet knowing that I have made the decision, I am ready to live with the consequences.
Using coping statements in the wrong way, you can easily place the blame for an event at someone else’s feet.
Blaming someone else, you are giving away your control of the situation. It is because Mom won’t give me money that I cannot go to the movies. If it weren’t for the pandemic, I would have a new job.
Giving away your attitude, you become the victim.
And if you haven’t guessed it, that is bad. I know there are many examples of people giving up and not giving up. Those that never give up, often succeed. Those that give up, have a harder go of things.
Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “if you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right.”
As I climbed out of the abyss two years ago, I latched on to coping statements. At first, I did not realize I was doing it. But I knew I needed to find a better way to think.
As I have written extensively about, the morning I went to the hospital, I could only see three choices:
- End it all.
- Keep doing what I have been doing and keep expecting a different result.
- Get professional medical advice.
I’m way to chicken to end it, so this has always been a non-starter. Doing what I’d been doing and thinking it would end differently was my way of giving up control. And when depression would figure out a way to crash my world, all I could think to do when I surfaced, was to sweep it under the rug. I didn’t care what it was or why it happened. All I cared about was hiding it and pretending it never happened. That was the attitude I chose.
And for over 40 years, I got away with it.
Or so I told myself. I know that others could see things I would not look at. I had given up control of much of my life. Each depressive episode was longer and deeper than the previous one. And I was not having any part of taking responsibility for the things I was doing.
“It was depressions fault.”
I gave up control over my attitude. And I have paid the price for the better part of my life. But now I am using coping statements to change how I think about events. I am using coping strategies, including visualization, to face life and chose how I will view and relate to events.
I finally understand that I cannot change anyone else, I can only change me.
So how do I use coping statements?
How to Use Your Coping Statements
- Read them out loud (if possible) and repeat them until you start to feel better.
- If one statement, in particular, helps calm you most, just continue to repeat that statement to yourself – like a mantra.
- Try to breathe slowly and deeply – into your diaphragm – as you read your statements.
For me. using Coping Statements today is much easier than it was two years ago.
I wish I had discovered them sooner. And I wish I had understood what I was doing when I was using them without knowing I was using them. Many times, I was choosing to ignore my depression. This was a choice I made, to not engage it, to not try and understand it, and especially to not say it out loud.
Now I choose something different, and my attitude reflects it.
I want to know everything I can about depression. And I want to learn all I can about coping statements and how I can use them to live a balanced life with major depressive disorder.
Learn more about coping statements on my website. Use the drop-down blog menu and click on Coping. Included is my post My 101 Best Coping Statements for Anxiety and Depression