Top 10 Coping Skills for PTSD and Mental Health

Hello All,

Mental health and coping skills/strategies are things that each and every one of us deal with, especially if you are reading this right now. In 2016 I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in social work and went on to work in the field for just about two years. I was a case manager for individuals whose primary diagnosis was Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). If you don’t know too much about the ins and outs of mental illness, BPD is a mental illness that stems from past trauma(s) and is often accompanied by a PTSD/CPTSD diagnosis.

Through my education, my work experience and my own lived experience I have learned many different coping skills/strategies throughout the years. Now, for me, these are more geared toward PTSD and anxiety; however I feel that most means to help us cope can be used or slightly altered to help anyone, especially through a trying time.

As we all know too well, the world is in a tough place right now. Many who were already dealing with complex issues with either their physical or mental health, added a whole new complexity to their daily living. That could mean adjusting their daily routine, working from home, being isolated,. Whatever it looks like for you, every single person could use some ideas on how to push through it. These are some things that have worked for me, and hopefully will help someone else.

What are the best coping skills?

  1. Focus on a Hobby- What do you love doing? Painting, reading, listening to music? Sit down and do it. Make yourself make the time. Sometimes all I do is make excuses why I can’t do something I enjoy. I say I don’t have time, or I’d rather be resting, but when I have sat down and given myself even 20 minutes to do something I enjoy, it changes my entire mood almost every time.
  2. Meditation/Yoga- This is something that, personally, I have been trying to reincorporate into my routine. Even if you take a minute a day when you wake up or before you go to bed just to focus on your breath, that counts. Any time you take throughout the day to re-center and focus on yourself and your intentions, is meditation.
  3. The 5 Senses- What would this mean? If you notice that you are not grounded as much as you would like to be, notice your 5 senses. List 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell and 1 thing you can taste. Either acknowledge them mentally, or physically write them down. Make a note in your phone that you can add to whenever you feel you need to. Or have a friend that you can send it to. Anything that helps you to come back to center in the moment that you feel out of it.
  4. Talk Positive to Yourself- This might sound silly to some people, but we talk negative to ourselves, so why not positive? This is something that I still struggle with. It’s so hard to do. I was listening to the Spiritual Shit podcast recently where Mel Robbins was the guest, she discussed her book “The High 5 Habit“. This resonated highly with me, she talks about high 5-ing yourself in the mirror daily to reinforce positivity within yourself. Be Positive♥
  5. Ask for Support- Know that it is okay to ask those around us that we trust for help and support. I am aware that this is not always readily available for everyone. Seek counselling, reach out to a friend, or family member, call a support line, go to a meeting. Whatever it is that you need support with, it’s okay to ask and not carry it all alone.
  6. Self-Care- Physically do some form of self care. This can be changing your clothes, brushing your hair, putting on a lotion or going for a walk. I know personally that sometimes even moving from bed is too much to do. Take a sip of water if that’s what you can do for that day. It’s okay to start small.
  7. Do the Opposite Action- Whatever you are feeling, try and do the opposite. If you are feeling sad or anxious, watch something funny or motivational. If you are feeling uninspired, write some motivational phrases. Sometimes when we are feeling a negative emotion we have the habit of leaning into it. We put on sad music or a movie to make us cry. I believe to an extent that is okay, we need to feel all of our emotions and sometimes we are so accustomed to shutting them off that we need to kickstart them to feel something. Try not to let yourself fall too far into that pattern.
  8. Engage in Spirituality- No matter what your belief system is, take time to focus on that. Personally, I lean more toward spirituality. In times of stress etc. I tend to pull out my tarot cards, even taking a minute and pulling one card to ground yourself. I also have been starting to grow my crystal collection so doing crystal work along side yoga/meditation has been helpful for me. No matter what you chose to focus on, just take time to re-ground yourself with your spirituality.
  9. Go to your Happy Place- This may sound silly, at least that’s what I thought for a long time. There was one night last year that I had a dream where I was truly in my “happy place” and I was visited by what I believe to be my higher self. Before this dream I struggled my entire life to ever even visualize where my happy place would be. Take even 30 seconds just to visualize your happy place and spend some time there. Or if you don’t have one, think of something meaningful to you that brings you happiness and peace. A favorite pet, your favorite memory, anything that brings you a sense of comfort.
  10. Clean Something- I still struggle with this on a regular basis. I have found however, that when I push myself a little bit to clean just one thing, it makes me feel so much better. Take 5 minutes and clean a mirror or a window. Or put the dishes away, put a load of laundry in. It’s okay to start small. I have had to teach myself over the years that it is okay to not do it all at once. As with life, it is okay to take small steps instead of giant leaps.

Coping skills look different for everyone and there are a million lists of ideas everywhere through a quick Google search. I hope this list can help. Even reading this right now, shows that you are trying and that alone, is self care.

Leave any comments of questions you have or things you want to see from me.

Love and appreciate you all ♥

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