Updated: Oct 28
Everyone has heard of coping skills, but what are they really? When working with others, I have noticed a difference in how people define what coping skills are and what they are not. In general, coping skills are activities, thoughts or behaviors one uses to deal with, or adjust to, any changes or stressful events in one’s life.
Now, what are the activities, thoughts or behaviors? Well, one can go into deep detail on this subject and come out with a research paper, however, I like to keep things simple. So, if you want to know more than what I go into detail here, there are extensive articles out there on the web that will give you just that. Knowledge is power and when it comes to your life, take control, don’t hesitate to search for more information!
What does coping skills have to do with fitness, health and weight loss?
We are more than just health and fitness; we are so many things to so many people and we tend to stretch ourselves further than we probably should. Having goals in health and fitness is great, but we need to remember that the other areas in our lives, actually impact our wellbeing, both for the good and the bad. In fact, every area of your life impacts another in some form or another.
Coping skills will be needed to help manage the bad as so those things do not force us to regress in our goal progress. For example, stress from your job can impact the time we spend exercising, like decreasing it, or in some case, can lead us to making unhealthy food choices to comfort ourselves.
This then can turn into a vicious cycle, which I have seen countless times. You get stressed out at work, you start grabbing comfort foods and foods that are easy to make which is not what you have been eating, you start to physically feel different, stress over that, exercise less, which decreases your energy levels, reach for comfort foods to make you feel better, and so forth. These both can affect the success rates of our fitness goal or increase the time it takes to achieve those goals.
Thus, my mission with Body and Mind Strong is to help you achieve your health and fitness goals and maintain long-term success by incorporating behavioral coaching with online fitness training.
What is a Bag of Tricks?
When discussing coping skill with someone who is dealing with changes or stressful events, I discuss what I like to call a “Bag-of-Tricks” and how everybody needs one, and a full one at that. The most common types of coping skills are Diaphragmic Breathing, deep breathing exercises, and Visualization, which is imagining yourself in a calm and soothing place. But wait, there’s more!
Before I discuss the common coping skills mentioned above, I ask them what they like to do for fun. Normally, they don’t mention much and state they don’t have many “hobbies”. So, we dive down further and have them look at the smaller activities they enjoy, or just find relaxing.
Then I go into discussing the Bag-of-Tricks and the common coping skills. Next, I let them know, it is those plus everything else they like to do for fun or find relaxing. The reason… Coping skills are about distraction from negative thinking of feelings and can help you from going down a negative mental rabbit hole which can lead to unhealthy behaviors.
So, let’s bring this full circle.
You had a stressful day at work, you decide to still hit the gym even though you don’t feel like it as you know it is a good coping skill for you. You work out, not as long as normal, but you still showed up and you left feeling good mentally. You get home, and since you feel better mentally, you reach for healthier food choices instead of some of your normal comfort foods. This leads you to feel better about your choices which keeps you motivated to keep working on your health goals.
Now, this was just an example, but I hope it resonated with you in some way or you can associate the pattern to something currently going on in your life.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As a coach, we will definitely work on helping you have your own bag of tricks to help you manage stress in your life while working on your health and fitness goals. But keep in mind, coaching is NOT the same as counseling. If you are finding yourself struggling with aspects of your life, do not be afraid to reach out to a counselor who will help you process and manage certain issues.
To find a mental health counselor, I would first recommend checking to see if you have an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) with your company. Most EAP’s will offer free counseling sessions, but the number of sessions will depend on which program your company purchases.
Next, follow up with your insurance company and find one through them. Usually, you will just need to go to the website of your health insurance, put in your insurance plan and then search for mental health services. When in doubt, call the insurance company to find what your insurance covers and how to find a mental health counselor.
Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help, your mental health is important!!!
Alrightly then, if you have any questions for me, health & fitness topics you would like to request, or are interested in working with me on your health and fitness journey to a healthier, happier, stronger you, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t let your mind get in the way of what you can achieve!
Renee Thomas is the founder of Body and Mind Strong who brings extensive experience, education and passion to help others achieve their goals and improve their lives. She has over 18 years of experience helping others achieve their goals in both healthcare, fitness and education environments. Renee is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer and Health Care Life coach, and recently obtained her Master's in Business Administration/Finance. In addition, she has helped others with behavior modification since 2008 as a master level Behavioral Health Counselor.