6 Things To Do When Coping Skills Don’t Work

A woman is upset and looks like she is crying

Did you know that the majority of people have their own unique set of coping skills, whether that was on purpose or not.

By the time we reach adulthood, we have often developed our own systems and strategies to deal with stressful times or times of intense emotion.

But what do you do when coping skills don’t work anymore?

Reasons why your coping skills no longer work

You are burned-out

Speaking from personal experience, when I experienced burn out my coping skills would no longer work. I had become too overwhelmed that I had nothing left to even begin to use my coping skills at all. It’s like my mind and brain would immediately shut off.

When you are burned out you have no resources left to even attempt to cope.

You are using them too frequently

Sort of like above, if you are having to use your coping skills all the time, without a break to recover in between, they can stop working.

You need a chance to recharge in between, and if you aren’t getting that.

You are using them as a solution

Coping skills aren’t meant to be the solution to the problems you are facing. They are just meant to be a strategy that helps you deal with an exceptionally hard time.

If you never deal with what caused you to need the coping skills in the first place, you will be stuck in this cycle of never really dealing with anything that can cause more problems down the line.

You have experienced trauma

Trauma can do crazy things to our bodies, minds, and souls. If we don’t heal from our trauma, but instead try to use coping skills as a band-aid to deal with it, our coping skills can stop working.

You are going through changes

If you are experiencing a time of immense change in your life, such as a move, or a change in an important relationship, or even something like the pandemic, this can change the way your coping skills work.

10 Things to do when coping skills don’t work anymore

1) Discover what triggered your need for the coping skills

What was happening in that moment that you felt the need for coping skills in the first place? Was it a specific situation? A person? A feeling?

Whatever the reason, you need to be able to identify the cause in order to know how to fix it.

2) Try a similar alternative

Maybe going for a run was a coping skill for you, but you are so overwhelmed that you can’t leave your house so you don’t know what to do.

What about trying a workout from home instead? You might find that even walking, or jogging up and down the stairs or around your backyard could help.

3) Keep a list of other coping skills nearby

When you are stressed out and can’t think clearly, it can be difficult to brainstorm some other options of coping skills that you have not tried before.

Keeping a list of different coping skills handy, can help you to try something new in a moment of need.

Who knows, you might actually discover something new that works and that you can include in your normal rotation of skills that you reach for.

4) See a mental health professional

This could be an indicator that it is time to see a mental health professional or make a trip back to a professional if you have seen one already.

They are trained and educated on exact ways to help you, and they can take a look at your situation and make a solution specifically for you and what you are going through.

5) Heal your trauma

For me, it took a long time to realize that when the coping skills that I had used my entire life were no longer working that it was a sign that I needed to heal the trauma that I hadn’t even realized I was carrying with me.

My trauma had become even too much for my coping skills to help with. After all, coping skills are not meant to be the solution, just something to get you through a hard moment.

6) Give it time

You might simply need some time for your body and mind to adjust to whatever you are going through, give it some time and then try that coping skill again to see if you still feel the same.

To reiterate, coping skills are not meant to be a solution to your problems in life. They are simply meant to be a skill or tool that you use to get you through a difficult time.

Figuring out why you need that coping skill to begin with and working on fixing the problem should be your end goal.

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