Coping Statements for my anxiety and depression helps me live a balanced life. It turns out that I was using them at times before I understood what they are. For years it was unclear to me why they work. But because of my hospitalization last year for major depressive disorder, I was introduced to the science behind coping statements.
As I found tools to help me with anxiety and major depressive disorder, I started collecting a few coping statements. This led to writing down a few more positive coping statements and then a few more.
I soon realized that I had close to 100 Coping Statements that I use to control my anxiety and depression. And I sometimes use them for life’s challenges that don’t exactly fall into a mental health classification.
My research suggests that anyone could feel more in control if they used coping statements. These not only work for anxiety and depression but are effective for many mental health and addiction challenges. My personal challenge is a diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
In This Post, You Will Find
- What are Coping Statements?
- Should I Use Coping Statements for my Anxiety and Depression?
- Where can I find research that has been done to support Coping Statements?
- How to use coping statements to lead a balanced life
- My List of 101 Coping Statements for Anxiety and Depression
What Are Coping Statements?
Coping statements are truthful positive statements used to replace the negative and untrue thoughts that take over when you feel anxious, stressed, angry, and/or when facing other overwhelming situations.
“Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman theorized that coping could be divided based on its function, into problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. Problem-focused coping includes those strategies that involve acting on the environment (e.g., seeking support from others to solve the problem) or the self (e.g., cognitive restructuring). Emotion-focused coping includes those strategies used to regulate one’s stressful emotions (e.g., using substances, emotional ventilation).” Read more of their theory in the Encyclopedia of Adolescence
Recent coping research also reflects an awareness that coping with a stressor is a dynamic process that involves flexibility in strategies across the coping process, depending on the current demands of the situation.
What does that mean to me?
Life changes and what worked last time may not work this time. By collecting 101 Coping Statements for anxiety and depression, I can adapt my positive statement to replace unhelpful thinking. And I can change that positive thought as the situation unfolds.
Should I use coping statements for my anxiety?
The short answer is YES!
Please use coping statements for your anxiety, depression, mental health issues, or any addiction. I do and it helps me not be so hard on myself. I can create all kinds of unhelpful thinking around just about any situation. And using coping statements helps focus me and gives me reasons to rethink my attitude toward the event.
This is the key reason you should use coping statements.
The world will throw things at you. And the world is a strange place. What is not even on our radar can become the focus of our entire existence. This is often true when someone losses a close family member to suicide. With the goal of helping others, so they do not experience the same situations, foundations are created and outreach is performed
Knowing you cannot change the event, focus on what you can change:
Here is an example. And I cannot help dipping into Monty Python’s, No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Only a handful of scientists expected a global pandemic featuring COVID-19 and the coronavirus. And how it has been handled worldwide differs. Restrictions, guidelines, and recommendations, all are ways we are dealing with the pandemic as humans on this planet.
Each one of us is making up our minds about these restrictions and what they mean to us. Everyone knows two new words now: SOCIAL DISTANCING. And the CDC and WHO have their ideas of how we should behave. Then there are layers on top of that from different federal agencies, state governments, and localities.
So we are in a pandemic and science says there is a real threat from this virus.
You cannot change that. However, you can use coping statements to gain a better perspective on the pandemic and your attitude toward it. Coping Statements from “I will learn from this experience, even if it seems hard to understand right now,” to “I can be anxious/angry/sad and still deal with this” help us frame our response to the pandemic.
At my day job, these coping statements are just as effective for me when I hear my name called over the radio at work and I am asked to come to the office. My mind immediately goes to guilt, an inhibitory emotion that blocks my core emotions. Using coping statements I will tell myself, “these are just thoughts – not reality” and “what am I scared of?” By the time I get to the office, I am much calmer and can hear whatever it is, and take care of it. Leaving the office I can tell myself “that wasn’t as bad as I expected.”
Where can I find research that has been done to support coping statements?
Scouring the Internet, I found a significant amount of studies done on the use of Coping Statements.
Some are related to anxiety, some studies look at coping statements people with depression might find helpful. Then there are those linked to chronic pain. Science Direct states that: Coping strategies are psychological patterns that individuals use to manage thoughts, feelings, and actions encountered during various stages of ill health and treatments.https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/coping-strategies
The National Center for Biotechnology Information did a study on the Effects of coping statements on experimental pain in chronic pain patients. The findings are still relevant today, although this study was conducted in 2009.
In Canada, a Graduate student did his thesis on Inducing Adaptive Coping Self-Statements in the Learning Disabled Through a Cognitive Behavioral Intervention. His work in the late 1980s, much like the work above supports the use of Coping Statements as a way to improve one’s attitude toward a situation or event. This shift in attitude can sometimes also result in a change in circumstances, often to the benefit of the person changing his or her attitude.
Google found About 130,000,000 results (in 0.41 seconds) searching for “Studies of Coping Statements.”
The proof is out there that this works. Using Coping Statements for Anxiety and Depression is a tool anyone can reach for. And, like most things in life, it only works if you do.
How can I use coping statements to lead a balanced life?
Coping patterns are important because they facilitate a person’s handling of a stressful experience,” Burns-Nader said. “If someone is going through a tough time, positive coping patterns provide extra resources that can help that person deal with the demand of a stressor.”Apr 3, 2013www.sciencedaily.com
Often, working with a professional to help you practice coping statements is recommended. The psychiatric medical community and LCSWs have been exceeding helpful in my understanding of the power positive coping statements have. And I am using professional experience and expertise. In fact, I have switched back to an LSCW who is out of network in order to work with him. I have found that he and I are connected. I stopped seeing him when my work insurance kicked in, but the therapist I saw in-network didn’t click.
In fairness to her, shortly after we began sessions together, this pandemic thing became serious and everyone stopped meeting in person. I dropped out of therapy completely for several months of the Pandemic, then realized unhelpful thinking was sneaking back into my head.
“I have depression, depression does not have me.”
When I first used this statement, I had no idea it was really a coping statement. All I knew was that it helped me clarify what was going on in my head. Having a mantra I could repeat whenever things got tough was lifesaving. 17 months ago, I was still coming to grips with my depression. Having ignored it, concealed it, worked around it, and never acknowledged it, I was naive to my options to counter its sneaky ways.
Using this one coping statement, “I have depression, depression does not have me” was my first step towards recovery and leading a balanced life.
As the months rolled by since I was hospitalized with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, I have collected many additional coping statements. When you Google search coping statements, there are hundreds of lists. Some websites share the same list, making it unclear who the original author is. At the end of my list, I have included links to the website lists that I use.
Here is my collection of 101 coping statements.
- Stop, and breathe, I can do this
- This will pass
- I can be anxious/angry/sad and still deal with this
- I have done this before, and I can do it again
- This feels bad, it is a normal body reaction. It will pass
- This feels bad, and feelings are very often wrong
- These are just feelings, they will go away
- This won`t last forever
- Short-term pain for long-term gain
- I can feel bad and still choose to take a new and healthy direction
- I don`t need to rush, I can take things slowly
- I have survived before, I will survive now
- I feel this way because of my past experiences, but I am safe right now
- I’m stronger than I think
- It`s okay to feel this way, it`s a normal reaction
- Right now, I am not in danger. Right now, I`m safe
- My mind is not always my friend
- Thoughts are just thoughts. They are not necessarily true or factual
- I will learn from this experience, even if it seems hard to understand right now
- This is difficult and uncomfortable, but it is only temporary
- I choose to see this challenge as an opportunity
- I can use my coping skills and get through this
- I can learn from this and it will be easier next time
- Keep calm and carry on
- Fighting this doesn’t help – so I’ll just relax and breathe deeply and let it float away.
- This feeling isn’t comfortable, but I can handle it.
- By relaxing through these feelings I learn to face my fears.
- I can feel anxious and still deal with this situation.
- This is not a real emergency. I can slow down and think about what I need to do.
- This feeling will go away.
- By staying present and focused on my task my anxiety will decrease.
- These are just thoughts – not reality.
- Anxiety won’t hurt me.
- Feeling tense is natural. It tells me it’s time to use coping strategies.
- Things are not as bad as I am making them out to be.
- Don’t discount the positives
- I’ve done this before so I can do it again.
- I’ll be glad I did it when this is over.
- I’ll feel better when I am actually in the situation.
- I’ll just do the best I can.
- By facing my fears I can overcome them.
- Worrying doesn’t help.
- Whatever happens, happens. I can handle it.
- Having done this before, I can do it again
- Stay focused on the present. What do I need to do right now?
- It will soon be over.
- It’s not the worst thing that could happen.
- Step by step until it’s over.
- I don’t need to eliminate stress, just keep it under control.
- Once I label my stress from 1 to 10 I can watch it go down.
- Take a breath.
- I can always retreat out of this situation if I decide to.
- There is nothing dangerous here.
- Take deep breaths and take your time.
- This feeling is just adrenaline. It will pass in a couple of minutes.
- These feelings are not dangerous.
- Getting this going will reduce my worry about it
- This isn’t dangerous.
- I will just let my body pass through this.
- I have survived panic attacks before and I will survive this as well.
- Nothing serious is going to happen.
- This too will pass
- The way you look at pain makes a significant difference.
- I can control the pain.
- One step at a time – I can handle this.
- I need to stay focused on the positives.
- It won’t last much longer.
- This isn’t as bad as I thought.
- No matter how bad it gets, I can do it.
- It will be over soon.
- I am not my illness.
- Strong, healthy, smart.
- It’s not worth getting mad about.
- I won’t take this personally.
- I am in charge, not my anger.
- I am going to breathe slowly until I know what to do.
- Getting angry isn’t going to help.
- I can handle this and stay in control.
- Remember to breathe. Remember to breathe.
- People aren’t against me – they’re for themselves.
- I have depression, depression does not have me
- I can handle this
- I have done this before, so I can do it again
- Getting this going will reduce my worry about it
- Concentrate on what is going on….not how I feel.
- This is just anxiety; it is an unpleasant feeling, but I’ve never been ill.
- Concentrate on what I have to do.
- I know I am going to be OK.
- The feelings always pass.
- Relax and think positively.
- One step at a time.
- Anxious feelings are unpleasant, but not harmful or dangerous
- Relax now!
- Just breathe deeply.
- There’s an end to it.
- Keep my mind on right now—on the task at hand.
- I can keep this within limits I can handle.
- I can always call ________________________________________________
- I am only afraid because I decided to be. I can decide not to be.
- I’ve survived this and worse before.
- Being active will lessen my fear.
I use the above list having found them on many websites, including the ones listed here. Please check out the resources they provide. https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/positive.htm https://www.choosehelp.com/topics/mental-health/rehab-for-patients-with-mental-health-challenges https://www.sound-mind.org/self-talk-for-depression.html#.X4xNeNBKiUk
Negative self-talk doesn’t help. You can try to thought-stop but unless you’ve got a ready replacement, it probably won’t work (the mind’s not so good at staying quiet). That’s why preparing coping statements makes sense.
Remember. coping statements are truthful positive statements used to replace the negative and untrue thoughts that take-over when you feel anxious, stressed, angry, and/or when facing other overwhelming situations.
Replace, “I can’t take it anymore.” With, “This is uncomfortable, but I can handle it if I take slow and deep breaths.”
Verbalizing your coping statements can help you calm down and stay in control. They offer reassurance that you can make it through any difficult period.https://www.choosehelp.com/profile/John Many thanks to John for all of the helpful information I have found on his website.
I have found out through working with my therapist that my negative unhelpful thinking is a defense. And defenses are anything we do to avoid feeling core emotions. Once again, I cannot control events, but I can control my attitude toward them. This is where I find positive coping statements most useful. Turning my thoughts so that I can see a way out, is a major key to my recovery.
Understanding how sneaky depression can be, I am sensitive to and look for unhelpful thinking, combatting it with positive coping statements.
You may feel your situation is unique in that your triggers may come from a different place. But in the end, coping statements are a valuable tool for anyone seeking to lead a balanced life. I attend SMART Recovery meetings where most of the attendees are dealing with alcohol or narcotic addictions.
Yet the tools SMART teaches apply to my depression, too.
And the struggles each one in the group articulates, are common to everyone. Whether dealing with an addiction or a mental health issue, chronic pain, or even anger issues, coping statements are a way to direct your mind toward a positive outcome.
17 months ago, I had no idea my mind was engaging in unhelpful thinking styles. Now, there are times when I catch myself even as the words are coming out of my mouth. And because I can see what is happening, I can turn these around and create positive coping statements that keep me from circling the drain.
I encourage you to start using coping statements if you haven’t already discovered this tool.
What has been your experience? Are you using Coping Statements? Leave a comment below: