A coping skill is a technique or strategy that is used when anxiety occurs.

Reducing Anxiety:  Coping Skills

A coping skill is a technique or strategy that is used when anxiety occurs.  Anxiety can feel overwhelming and overpowering. Individuals might feel like they have a loss of control and do not know how to respond to what they’re experiencing. Coping skills provide the individual with helpful and effective ways to respond to the distressing emotion. 

Types of coping skills

  • Grounding: Helps the individual separate, and distract, from anxiety. Some types of grounding include thoughts, physical body, and visualization. Grounding can be used as needed when the emotion becomes overwhelming, or incorporated into one’s daily and weekly routine. 
  • Breathing: Anxiety can overcome the mind and body, leading to increased heart rate, difficulty breathing or irregular breathing, restlessness, and difficulty thinking. Slow and controlled breathing is the first step to regulating the physical body, which then allows for the management of anxiety. Breathing techniques must be done correctly, or else they can have the opposite effect (increased anxiety/physical discomfort), or none at all. 
  • Mindfulness:  This is often confused with meditation. Mindfulness is different from meditation and involves acknowledging the distressing thoughts and emotions, while focusing on the present moment. Oftentimes, individuals get caught up in their thoughts and emotions, and will try desperately to avoid them, or panic when they occur.  With mindfulness, distressing thoughts and feelings are given space to be present; however, the main focus is on in-the-moment factors that the individual does have power over.


How can therapy help

To most, the coping skills listed above are concepts. Many understand them but are unsure of how to use them and apply them to their particular experiences.  Fortunately, therapists are trained in different types of treatments and can assist clients in practicing these coping skills.


Don’t wait to get the help you need.  If you would like to take the next step towards finding a therapist, contact Ethera to get matched with a provider. 

About the Author:  Robyn Tamanaha is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, writer, and podcaster. She has a private practice in Orange County, CA and is the host of the podcast Books Between Sessions.