6 Types of Coping Skills for Depression and Anxiety

Coping Skills for Depression and Anxiety

The real world isn’t easy. Luckily, there are different types of coping skills for depression and anxiety that we can use to get through it.

Life is full of challenges, and we all experience moments of stress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil. For anxious people, it’s a little hard. If you got the package deal with depression included, it’s even harder. And let’s not even mention being neuro-divergent.

Even people who have really great brains struggle with adult life and reality. To get through it, we need to develop coping skills. These are essential tools that help us navigate these challenges and maintain our mental and emotional well-being.

There are various types of coping skills for depression and anxiety, each offering unique strategies to cope with life’s ups and downs.

Best Depression and Anxiety Coping Skills

In this article, we’ll explore the six main types of coping skills for depression and anxiety and provide practical examples to help you manage and overcome difficult situations.


distractions coping skills for anxiety and depression

Distractions are coping techniques that involve redirecting your focus away from unwanted thoughts or events. These activities provide a break from emotional distress and offer a moment of relief.

Here are some examples of distraction techniques:

  • Watching a TV show or movie: Dive into a captivating storyline that takes your mind off your worries. At the moment, I’m trying to learn Spanish so I really have to focus on what I’m watching, which really draws me into the present.
  • Playing a game: Engage in a fun and immersive game to shift your focus. Embrace the magic of play! I love diving into a video game like Watchdogs. Hogwarts Legacy or The Witcher to engage in a little fun.
  • Outdoor activities: Take a walk, go for a drive, or simply spend time in nature to clear your mind. If you like gardening, that’s a great distraction that really allows you to connect with nature.
  • Listening to music: Music has the power to uplift your spirits and create a positive distraction. Sing and dance along! You can even play a musical instrument if that’s something you can do.
  • Taking a shower or bath: The sensory experience of water can be soothing and help you relax.
  • Reading: Lose yourself in a good book to temporarily escape your concerns. The fantasy genre is by far my favorite, anything Sarah J Maas and I’m sold.
  • Self-expression and creating: You can use activities that allow for self-expression and creativity. Write, draw, paint, or craft: Express yourself through creative activities that promote a state of flow. You can also lose yourself in a hobby.
  • Engaging in opposite actions: Challenge your emotions by doing activities that evoke opposite feelings. For instance, if you’re anxious, engage in an activity that boosts your confidence.
  • Clean or organize your environment: Cleaning and organizing your environment can help create a sense of order and reduce distractions, allowing you to focus on the present moment.

Mental Coping Skills

mental coping skills for depression

Mental coping skills involve utilizing your cognitive abilities to manage your thoughts and emotions effectively. These techniques enable you to regain control over your mental state.

Here are some examples of mental coping skills:

  • Brainstorming options or solutions: Think critically about your challenges and explore potential solutions.
  • Rationalizing your thoughts: Analyze and reframe your thought patterns to reduce emotional distress.
  • Making a gratitude list: Shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life by listing things you’re grateful for.
  • Lowering your expectations: Adjust your expectations to reduce disappointment and pressure. This is especially useful if you have really high standards for yourself (join the club!).
  • Writing a pros and cons list: Objectively assess a situation by listing its advantages and disadvantages.
  • Focusing on the present: Ground yourself in the here and now to prevent rumination about the past or future.
  • Psychoanalyzing: Explore your thoughts and emotions to gain insight into your mental processes. This can be useful but it can also cause to detach from your emotions instead of feeling your feelings.
  • Notice what you can control: By recognizing what aspects of a situation you can influence, you gain a sense of empowerment and can direct your efforts where they will make the most impact.
  • Observe repeating patterns: Identifying recurring patterns in your thoughts and behaviors allows you to address any unhelpful tendencies and work towards personal growth. You can use the FEAR acronym to dive deeper into what’s holding you back.
  • Write a list of goals: Setting clear goals provides you with direction and motivation, helping you channel your mental energy towards achieving what matters to you.
  • Prioritize important tasks: Prioritizing tasks helps you manage your mental workload efficiently, ensuring that crucial responsibilities receive the attention they deserve.
  • Write a list of your strengths: Acknowledging your strengths can boost your self-confidence and reinforce a positive self-image.
  • Embrace optimism: Focusing on the positive aspects of situations and employing positive mantras and affirmations can reframe your thought patterns and enhance your mental well-being. But don’t get stuck in toxic positivity.

Physical Coping Skills

physical coping skills for anxiety

Physical coping skills revolve around taking care of your body to support your emotional well-being. By nurturing your physical health, you can reduce stress and anxiety.

Here are some physical coping techniques:

  • Stretching: Release physical tension through stretching exercises. Yoga is a great way to really stretch out your body (and it’s beneficial for anxiety)
  • Exercising: Engage in physical activity to boost endorphins and enhance your mood.
  • Getting enough sleep: Prioritize rest and ensure you’re well-rested to face challenges with a clear mind. Stick to a good sleep schedule and keep in mind that there’s also more than one type of rest.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet: Fuel your body with nutritious foods that promote overall well-being. Focus on what you’re feeding your body and what nourishes you.
  • Practice deep, intentional breathing: Deep, slow breaths help calm your nervous system.
  • Limiting or avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and other substances: Some substances can worsen anxiety and stress; consider moderating or avoiding them. Even sugar isn’t great for you.
  • Grounding techniques: Use techniques like informal mindfulness or meditation to stay rooted in the present moment.
  • Try TRE and other techniques: Engage in Tension and Trauma Release Exercises to let go of some of the stored tension in your body. You can also practice techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, tapping, and body scanning
  • Hack your chemicals: Tap into your happiness chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins.

Interpersonal Coping Skills

interpersonal coping skills

Interpersonal coping skills involve connecting with others and maintaining healthy relationships. Social support is crucial for managing emotional distress.

Here are some interpersonal coping skills:

  • Talking to someone you trust: Share your feelings and concerns with a friend or family member.
  • Spending time with friends and family: Strengthen your bonds by spending quality time with loved ones.
  • Setting boundaries and saying no: Learn to assert yourself and protect your emotional well-being. No is the most powerful world in the world, but it’s also the hardest one to say (and the hardest to hear).
  • Using assertive communication: Express your thoughts and feelings openly and respectfully. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
  • Using humor: Laughter is a powerful tool to cope with stress and lighten your mood.
  • Helping someone in need: Providing support to others can be emotionally rewarding and reduce your own distress.
  • Spend time with a pet: Pets offer unconditional love and comfort during challenging times. Plus, who doesn’t love a good snuggle? I have two cats who play a huge role in my day-to-day coping.
  • Ask for help or seek professional support: Reach out to a therapist or counselor for guidance and assistance. I still see a therapist every week and I’m a better person for it.
  • Volunteer: Giving back to your community can boost your sense of purpose and connection.
  • Join a social group or support group: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can relate to your challenges. Having people who understand your anxiety is a game changer.

Personal Coping Skills

personal coping skills

Personal coping skills revolve around self-compassion and self-awareness. These techniques help you take care of yourself and nurture your emotional well-being.

Here are some personal coping strategies:

  • Crying: Allowing yourself to express your emotions through tears can be a healthy release. But it can be hard to let go. I still haven’t learned how.
  • Listening to your needs: Pay attention to what your body and mind require to feel balanced. Try to understand your emotions and what they’re trying to tell you.
  • Practicing self-talk and guiding yourself through your feelings: Challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts with intentional thought processing. Aim to reframe negative or unhelpful thoughts. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
  • Not taking things personally: Recognize that not everything is a reflection of your worth or actions. This is a whole lot easier said than done and takes a lot of practice to get right.
  • Acknowledging and feeling your feelings: Don’t suppress or deny your emotions; allow yourself to experience them. Not as easy as it sounds, but apparently, it’s really great (I haven’t figured it out yet).
  • Pausing before reacting: Give yourself a moment to collect your thoughts and emotions before responding. Pauses are super powerful.
  • Dropping some involvement: Recognize when you need to let go of certain commitments or responsibilities. Take a serious look at your stress bucket and see where you can let go.
  • Scheduling time for yourself: Prioritize self-care and allocate time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  • Pacing yourself and taking breaks: Avoid burnout by maintaining a sustainable pace in your daily life.
  • Structuring your day: Implement a routine that helps you stay organized and focused.

Spiritual Coping Skills

spiritual coping skills for anxiety and depression

Spiritual coping mechanisms connect with your inner beliefs and values. These activities provide a sense of purpose and support during challenging times.

Here are some examples of spiritual coping skills:

  • Prayer: Connecting with your spirituality through prayer can provide comfort and guidance. If you don’t believe in any specific deity, you can also just speak to the universe.
  • Meditation: Cultivate mindfulness and inner peace through meditation practices.
  • Spending time in nature: Connect with the natural world to find solace and rejuvenation.
  • Attending a spiritual gathering: Joining a religious or spiritual community can offer support and a sense of belonging. My version of a spiritual gathering is certain types of yoga.
  • Seeking spiritual guidance: Consult with a spiritual leader or advisor to gain perspective on life’s challenges. This can even be a spiritual person in your life.
  • Getting your tarot cards read: I love getting my tarot cards read (I even do it for myself) They provide insights and guidance that align with your spiritual beliefs and help you navigate life’s challenges. They allow you to look at things from a different perspective, and I’ve had so many WOW moments with them.

Coping Skills vs Coping Mechanisms

Coping skills and coping mechanisms are both strategies that individuals use to manage stress and difficult situations. However, they differ in their effectiveness and long-term impact on well-being.

Coping Skills vs Coping Mechanisms

Here’s a table to sum up the differences.

AspectCoping SkillsCoping Mechanisms
NatureHealthy and constructiveMay be healthy or unhealthy
Long-Term ImpactLead to long-term benefitsOften provide short-term relief
AdaptivenessAdaptive responses to stressMay involve avoidance or suppression
GoalAim to address root causes of stressOften do not address underlying issues
ExamplesMindfulness, exercise, deep breathing, seeking social support, problem-solvingExcessive alcohol or substance use, emotional eating, excessive screen time, denial, avoidance behaviors    

Healthy coping techniques help you manage stress and build resilience, while unhealthy coping mechanisms may provide short-term relief but ultimately worsen your emotional well-being.

The Benefits of Anxiety Coping Skills

Coping skills for depression and anxiety are vital tools for managing life’s challenges and maintaining your mental and emotional health. You’re likely already doing a couple of things on this list, but there are some really valuable techniques that I wasn’t even aware of.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily life, you can navigate difficult situations with resilience and self-compassion.

Don’t forget, that if things get too much, seeking professional support and guidance is okay. It can be incredibly useful when coping with overwhelming emotions and stress.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *