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Learn how coping statements can help you manage your stress.
What are Coping Statements?
During times of stress and uncertainty, it is normal to have negative and distorted thoughts. While these thoughts serve a purpose, for example, encouraging you to protect yourself from danger, they can also become overwhelming and immobilizing. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches a process of reviewing your thoughts, looking for distorted thinking, and replacing any unhelpful thoughts with more helpful and realistic thoughts.
I highly recommend using that process, but it can also help to proactively seek out and create coping statements. Coping statements are helpful ways to frame a difficult situation. Often our negative thinking tends to follow a repeated pattern. The best coping statements help to counteract the specific distortions and core beliefs that you find yourself getting stuck on over and over. Reminding yourself of your coping statements on a regular basis can help to reframe your thinking and break some of these patters.
Coping Statements for Managing Stress During Uncertainty
Here is a list of coping statements that I have found helpful for my own thinking as I navigate through stress and anxiety. Some of these will resonate with you and others will not. I encourage you to read through the list one by one. If there is any statement that makes you feel a little lighter, a little calmer, or a little braver- write it down and remind yourself of it whenever you feel stressed.
- Civilization has gone through challenges before and survived
- I have gone through challenges before and I’ve survived
- My response doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s
- I am happy to have people I care about in my life
- I can use the tools available to me to connect
- I can feel grateful and scared at the same time
- I know how to take care of myself
- I trust myself to take the actions I need to take
- I can’t control other people
- It’s not my responsibility to control other people
- Bad news usually gets more attention than good news, but both exists, even now
- I don’t have to plan or control the future
- I can take things day by day
- Most people are just trying to do their best
- I am doing my best
- Even though I feel badly right now, it doesn’t mean I will always feel badly
- Things could get worse, but they also could get better
- I have skills/talent/knowledge that I will still have even if my job situation changes
- I can react to changing circumstances as they arise
- My productivity does not determine my self-worth
- I am stronger than I think
Again, if there is a statement that shifts your thinking, even if it is ever so slightly, write that down. Put the list somewhere that you can see every day and turn to it when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Creating Your Own Statements
It can be even more powerful to create your own coping statements. Here are the steps to do this:
- Allow yourself to feel all the of the emotions that you are feeling right now. This includes anything that you have been holding back or trying to resist.
- As you are feeling your emotions, write out what you are feeling and thinking on a piece of paper.
- Once you’ve written out your thoughts, take a breath and take a step back. Review what you’ve written as if you were an outsider.
- Look for trends in your thinking. What repeated thoughts or beliefs are coming up over and over again?
- Write out those specific thoughts/beliefs. Then write a coping statement that lowers the intensity of the thought or counterbalances it with another point of view. You don’t need to be overly positive or falsely optimistic. The goal is to find something that you can realistically.
- Practice thinking this coping statement on a regular basis.
Coping Statements aren’t meant to fully remove fears, worry and stress, but they can help to balance intense feelings. I hope this exercise has helped you to feel a little lighter and little stronger and resilient in this challenging time.