Coping Skills
Adonai your God is right there with you,
as a mighty savior.
He will rejoice over you and be glad,
he will be silent in his love,
he will shout over you with joy.”
zephaniah 3:17 (CJB)

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When a person has mental illness, it's extremely important to have a set of coping skills in place for times when he/she or loved ones and caregivers notice signs of relapse. As one of my psychology professors said, it's not a matter of if, but when, a relapse will occur. Please see this page for coping skills specific to people who self-injure. Note that in this section, the word "you" refers to the person with mental illness. Of utmost importance is the safety plan. It's a written action plan that helps guide you through a crisis when you feel that you might harm yourself. You put a list of warning signs, coping skills, phone numbers of family members and friends, safe environments and activities, and numbers of suicide prevention lines as well as clinicians, emergency rooms , psychiatric hospitals, etc. Work with a counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist and/or caregivers to help you put together a safety plan.

Okay, so let's get to some coping skills that may work for you. It takes trial and error to find out which ones will be effective for you.


  1. Take a bubble bath
  2. Enjoy a spa day.
  3. Call an occasional mental health day--spend the day doing one or more of your favorite activities that will help you relax and rejuvinate
  4. Read a favorite book or watch your favorite movie
  5. Have a favorite snack
  6. Practice deep breathing or meditation
  7. Create a kit or box with some of your favorite items.
    Example: My coping box is a plain cardboard box decorated with pink and yellow puff paint. It has hearts, crosses, Bible verses, and on the top, it says, the "I'm worth it box." Inside, I have sour candy, a soft doll, safety scissors, old catalogs and magazines to cut and lotion. These are all coping tools that target different emotions that cause me to want to harm myself. This one takes some thought!
  8. Matching: This requires you to think about what is making you want to harm yourself and asks you to find a way to release that emotion. For example, when I'm angry, I might cut or rip one of the old magazines or catalogs. When I'm feeling sad, I might hold the doll. When I'm having obcessive thoughts about self-injury or suicide, I could try the sour candy to break the cycle.
  9. Talk to friends, family or other trusted individuals. If you don't have anyone you feel you can trust, you can always call Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Here is a great page on handling mental illness relapse.
Additional Resources IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS Contact me