list of coping skills for adults

List of Coping Skills for Adults

Life can get stressful, overwhelming, or emotionally difficult at times. Healthy coping skills and self-care strategies can help you better manage these challenging situations of life.

Here is an extensive list of positive and adaptive coping skills for adults that you can turn to.

List Coping Skills for Adults

We’ve categorized coping skills into seven broader categories.

Let’s read!

Relaxation Techniques

  1. Deep Breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths signals your nervous system to calm down. Inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your abdomen rise. Exhale slowly out through pursed lips. Repeat this for a few minutes until you feel more relaxed.
  2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense and relax each muscle group in succession. Notice how your muscles feel when tense versus when relaxed. This helps reduce muscle tension.
  3. Guided Imagery: Picture a peaceful, calming scene like a forest. Engage all your senses focusing on the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and how things feel. Imagine the details vividly. This transports you to a serene mental space.
  4. Mindfulness Meditation: Non-judgmentally observe the present moment. Sit comfortably and bring attention to your natural breathing. If your mind wanders, gently return focus to your breath. Start with 5-10 minutes daily. Apps like Headspace and Calm provide guidance.
  5. Yoga and Stretching: Try yoga flows, poses or gentle stretches to release muscle tension and calm both the mind and body. YouTube has many free yoga videos.
  6. Listen to Calming Music: Soothing instrumental or nature music can induce relaxation. For example, sounds like ocean waves, birds, or rainfall.

Physical Self-Care

  1. Get Enough Quality Sleep: Make sleep a priority by having a consistent bedtime routine. Remove electronics 30-60 minutes before bed, keep your room cool and dark, use a white noise machine if helpful. Being well rested enhances resilience.
  2. Eat Nutritious Foods: Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts/seeds and lean protein. Avoid skipping meals – low blood sugar can worsen mood. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  3. Exercise and Move Your Body: Go for a walk, jog, bike ride or do an exercise video to release feel-good endorphins that boost your mood naturally. Any amount of movement helps!
  4. Take a Hot Bath or Shower: Let the warm water relax tense muscles. Add Epsom salt to soothe soreness. Light candles and play soft music to create a spa-like atmosphere.
  5. Get a Massage: Ask a friend/partner for a quick shoulder rub, or book a professional masseuse. This releases muscle knots and makes you feel nurtured.
  6. Go Outside and Get Some Sun: Spending time in nature and sunlight naturally lifts your spirits. Take your coffee/tea, blanket or book outside. Around 10-15 minutes daily helps replenish vitamin D too.
  7. Engage Your Senses: Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This grounding exercise brings you into the present.
  8. Take a Nap: If exhausted, sleep restores both physical and emotional health. Keep naps 15-20 minutes to avoid grogginess.
  9. Laugh Out Loud: Watch or read something hilarious, play with pets or kids. Laughter temporarily relieves stress and makes you feel lighter inside.

Emotional Self-Care

  1. Talk to a Friend or Family Member: Verbalizing feelings helps release emotion better than keeping it inside. Friends often give fresh perspectives. Validate each other’s experiences and feel closer.
  2. Write in a Journal: Keep a notebook just for you. Write freely about stressful events, painful emotions or future hopes. This helps you process experiences so you can make meaning out of them.
  3. Cry if You Need To: Crying releases built up emotional tension. Let those tears flow somewhere private, or ask a close friend or partner to simply listen kindly. Pain shared is pain lessened.
  4. Learn to Say No: You don’t have to accept every invitation or favor asked of you. Give yourself permission to decline so you don’t get overloaded. Say no firmly but kindly, then treat yourself with the saved time/energy.
  5. Set Healthy Boundaries: Protect your time and energy by establishing fair boundaries with others. For example, tell a draining friend, “I have capacity to talk 1x a week for 30 minutes.” Then enforce it. This frees mental space.
  6. Practice Positive Self-Talk: Shift the way you talk to yourself inside your head. Be as kind and understanding to yourself as you would a good friend. Challenge every negative thought rationally. This builds confidence and resilience.
  7. Try a Gratitude Practice: Reflect on people/things you feel grateful for. You could say why out loud, write thank you notes, or keep a bullet journal list. This simple shift cultivates appreciation and positivity.
  8. Seek Personal Therapy: If you need more focused support processing complex emotions or past experiences, meet regularly with a licensed mental health therapist. Having an objective professional help guide your growth can be invaluable.
  9. Avoid people who Treat You Poorly: Reduce contact with individuals who continually mistreat, disrespect or judge you instead of support you. Surround yourself with positive people who uplift you.
  10. Take a Mental Health Day from Work/School: If completely emotionally drained, give yourself permission to take a sick day to prioritize self-care. Use the time to decompress however is most restorative to you.

Creative Self-Expression

  1. Try Arts and Crafts: Crafting activities like painting, coloring, knitting, jewelry making, needlepoint etc. have therapeutic benefits. The act of creating helps regulate emotions.
  2. Cook or Bake: Follow an old recipe or try something new. Cooking engages multiple senses and distracts your mind from worry. Share treats with friends/family too.
  3. Take Photos: Mindfully notice beauty around you – sunset colors, an interesting landscape, your pet enjoying sunbeams. Capturing images creatively helps you be present.
  4. Write Creatively: Try journaling, fiction, poetry or songwriting. Expressing yourself through words without censoring can be cathartic.
  5. Dance Freely: Play upbeat music and let your body move however it wants, even silly dances. Bouncing around helps release emotional tension. No one’s watching!

Relaxing Activities

  1. Watch a Favorite Movie or Show: Lose yourself in an entertaining story and loveable characters. Laughter triggers release of feel-good hormones too!
  2. Read an Engaging Book: Reading takes your mind to imaginative places as you envision characters and scenes. Check the best seller lists or ask friends for uplifting page-turner suggestions!
  3. Complete Puzzles or Play Games: Try sudoku, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles or educational brain games. These quiet but engrossing activities boost mood.
  4. Take a Warm Bath: Add Epsom salts and essential oils to turn bathing into an aromatherapy spa treatment. Light candles too for ultimate relaxation.
  5. Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks: Great for filling time while commuting, doing chores, falling asleep etc. Stories distract the mind from repetitive worries.
  6. Do Gentle Stretches: Try basic yoga poses, gentle twists or reaching stretches while listening to calming music. This releases physical and mental tension.
  7. Drink Tea Mindfully: Savor the warmth, aroma and flavor of herbal or black tea. Slow down and tune into your senses – sight, smell, taste, touch.
  8. Snuggle a Pet: Stroking soft fur lowers blood pressure. Feel the unconditional love and affection from your loyal companion.

Getting Out and About

  1. Take Yourself on a Date: Treat yourself to dinner at a favorite restaurant, movie, concert, shopping trip, museum visit or park walk. Enjoy fun solo activities.
  2. Meet up with Friends: Arrange to catch up with positive friends who energize you. Have meaningful conversations while enjoying each other’s company over coffee, dinner or an activity.
  3. Go for a Nature Walk: notice birds singing, critters scurrying, leaves rustling. Allow sights/sounds/smells to ground you. Brisk walking naturally boosts mood too through endorphins.
  4. Change Up Your Scenery: Get out of your everyday environment by exploring a new neighborhood, cafe, bookstore or park. Exposure to new sights helps shift perspective.
  5. Take a Weekend Getaway: Book a quick 1-2 night trip somewhere relaxing like the beach, mountains or a quirky fun city. Exploring an inspiring destination refreshes the spirit.
  6. Volunteer to Help Others: Boost your mood by using your time/skills to support a cause you care about. Sign up for shifts at the animal shelter, soup kitchen or museum. Giving back feels fulfilling.
  7. Attend Community Events: Whether festivals, farmer’s markets, craft fairs, music in the park etc. – join in activities that connect you closer with people in your town.

Miscellaneous Coping Ideas

  1. Play with Pets or Children: Their playful innocence and unconditional affection makes it easy to get lost in the moment having fun. Laughter is contagious too!
  2. Work on Fixer-Upper Projects: Channel nervous energy into home improvements – organize drawers, repair leaky faucets, repaint a room. Cross things off your to-do list.
  3. Ask for a Hug: Non-sexual physical touch from loved ones releases oxytocin, easing worries. Hug your kid, partner, friend, sibling or parents.
  4. Take a Cold Shower: Blast yourself with cold water for 30 seconds if stressed. This instantly helps reset and calm nervous system responses when emotional.
  5. Scan Your Body for Tension: Tune into physical sensations across your body. Relax any areas holding tightness, allowing muscles to soften. Releasing bodily stress aids emotional regulation.
  6. Use Stress Relief Items: Keep objects specifically for stress relief like stress balls, fidget toys, Play-Doh or scented aromatherapy products. Use them whenever overwhelmed.
  7. Listen to White Noise: Drown out worrying thoughts with soothing background noise. Try a fan, sound machine, or online ambient noise like rain or ocean waves to calm the mind.
list of coping skills for adults
list of coping skills for adults

I hope this comprehensive list of over 50 coping skills spanning relaxation techniques, physical/emotional self-care, creativity, enjoyable activities and miscellaneous ideas gives you lots of options to pull from!

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