A Spice Rack of Coping Skills

During my first year of marriage, I accidentally set the stove on fire. I didn’t realize that wet fish and boiling grease don’t mix. Although I still don’t have the Mind of a Chef, I no longer burn vittles. I have progressed from the early years of seasoning my chicken with only salt and pepper to using a variety of spices such as garlic parmesan seasoning, onion powder, poultry seasoning, Cajun spices… My dishes have gone from simple edibility to savory, flavorful, and downright interesting fare.

I’ve learned over the years that spices are very important to a good cook. In the same way that special seasonings create a variety of flavors, a repertoire of coping skills provides a variety of ways to approach the obstacles of life. As a therapist, I often meet clients who have only two or three methods to deal with anger, depression, shame… Their coping skills usually consist of (1) go smoke a cigarette, (2) cry, or (3) call a friend. There is nothing wrong with crying or calling a friend, but we need more in our spice rack than that. Just like it takes more than salt and pepper to season brisket, most of us need more than a few coping skills to deal with life, effectively.

Over the years, my clients and I have brainstormed lists of coping skills that help in dealing with difficult feelings and life stressors. Below are some of the ideas generated. I hope you find these helpful. Feel free to pass them on.

Read Bible
Deep breathing
Attend a support group
Take up a hobby
Make something
Eat a healthy snack
Look outside
Watch a funny movie
Read a book
Listen to music
Go for a walk
Go for a drive
Visualize a calm place
Hug self
Large movements
Talk to a friend
Warm bath
Take a trip
Get your nails done
Spend time with animals

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