We can’t control that life will throw us a curve ball when we least expect it. But we do have a choice in our reactions to it and if we chose healthy or unhealthy coping skills.

Healthy coping skills will help carry you through, build you up, and re-focus you during a struggle. Unhealthy coping skills are an escape that tend to be self-destructive. It ends up being more of a temporary relief that will often magnify the problem.

Escaping through addictive substances and behaviors, procrastinating, anger/violence, self-harming, and withdrawing are all examples of toxic ways to cope with stress and hard times. None of these help you solve the problem, feel better about it, or equip you to deal with it. They’re all avoiding the issue and will often make you feel worse and not better.

When you’re going through a hard time in life, here’s some healthy coping skills to help you make it through.

Focus on positive truths

We believe so many lies. We create catastrophic scenarios, apply false meaning to something, or absorb the messages of shame as truth. It’s time to start focusing on and surrounding yourself with things that are positive AND true to help you cope.

Lean on your people

I love the concept of “tribe”. A trusted community that does life with each other and leans on one another to help, encourage, and love in the good, bad, and ugly times. We have that in our church and are so blessed to have people to lean on when we need it. Find your people and don’t be ashamed to lean in and get vulnerable.

Get back to the basics

We over complicate things. Our standards are often too high, and we see the ideal fantasy as the goal to strive for. Sometimes one of the best ways to cope is to simplify. Set small, realistic, and attainable goals about things that actually matter and then work to meet them- one step at a time.

Stay rooted in the things that matter

In the words of Elsa… “Let it Go!”. When we have too many things on our plate that crowd our ability to focus on our priorities, we need to let some things go. Make sure your priorities and values are reflected in the way you spend your time.

Practice REAL self-care

REAL self-care might not always be how you want to spend your time, but it’s a real act of caring for yourself down the road. Relaxing by getting a massage or pedicure are awesome, but if you’re doing it to enable yourself to procrastinate on something that is stressful and weighing you down- it’s not really self-care. Real self-care might be saying no to something or someone, or living within the boundaries of a budget. Think of it as doing things that actually TAKE AWAY your stressors instead of adding to them.

Ask for help

We CANNOT do this life alone. None of us are super heroes, so there’s no shame in leaning on others to help you. People can’t read your mind, so you may need to vulnerably ask and let them know exactly how they can help support you. God created us to need Him and others in this life. Stop fighting against it.

Give yourself permission to rest

As an overachiever myself, I’m not always the best at resting. But it’s extremely important to prioritize and do regularly. If you aren’t well rested, there’s no way you’ll survive the storms that life will throw at you.

Remember that these healthy coping skills can be used when going through a hard time, but they can also be used to PREVENT the hard times from hitting you so hard. Making these a normal part of your life is a great way to be healthy and stay healthy regardless of what hurdles life throws your way.

Is your favorite coping skill an unhealthy or healthy one?