Coping Skills


In a high school, I hear the kids use counsel-y words like “trigger” and “coping skills.” They’re often trying to be funny, which is sort of great because humor is a coping skill!

Coping skills are methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. Positive coping skills are things like going for a walk, breathing techniques, writing, or serving others. Positive coping skills take practice to develop and use consistently but become second nature over time. More importantly, positive coping skills help us develop resiliency, problem-solving skills, and typically do not negatively interfere with relationships. For two, free extensive lists of positive coping skills, check out 100 Coping Skills for Managing Anger, Anxiety, and More (scroll to the bottom) and 99 Coping Skills.

There are coping skills that can be considered negative. Negative coping skills would be things we turn turn to do deal with stress but tend to cause more harm than good. Things like procrastination, substance use, and over-eating are examples of negative coping skills. When we do these things, we tend to feel guilty afterward, which causes more stress and does not actually help us cope: They act as quick band-aid that increases happy hormones for a brief moment but cause us to crash and burn after the moment is gone. (This can actually lead to addictive behaviors because we’ll continue to chase that good feeling.) Negative coping skills also tend to harm or interfere with relationships we have with our support system. Below is a list of negative coping skills.

Negative Coping Skills List.jpg

Some coping skills like shopping, sleeping, or watching Netflix can be positive or negative depending on how much the activity controls the life of the person using the skill. For example, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, it’s often because I am actually tired: My brain is not rested enough to process the information around me. I find that an hour nap does me a world a good, and I’m able to wake up a face my issues in a new ways. I have students who take 3 hour naps after school because they are overwhelmed and stressed. This is an issue because a) they are avoiding tackling the work that is causing the stress and b) the long nap interferes with a healthy bedtime. These students will stay up until 3:00 a.m. and do school on only 4 hours of sleep. This isn’t a one-time a month thing for some kids: It’s their typical routine. This is an example how a coping skill can be utilized both positively and negatively.

After looking at some examples, what kind of coping skills do automatically use?  If your skills are more on the negative side, how can you incorporate more positive coping skills into your typical routine? (Hint: When you do something on a regular basis when you’re not stressed, it’s easier to remember to do that thing when you are.)

Counselor’s Brochure & Getting Ready

School Counselor Brochure

I found this really helpful post recently – 20 Things School Counselors Should Do Before the School Starts – as I binged on Pinterest in preparation for my new position. I’m not sure I’ll even use it or if what I created will be helpful, but as I wait for my start date, I wanted to be proactive. So here’s my personal brochure. And here’s access to an editable brochure in .doc format.

I’ve also purchased this School Counselor Planner from TeachersPayTeachers.


And, She’s Off!!!

A female jockey enjoying her win at the derby

God is amazing. And makes me laugh. He’s such a great Father. Almost as soon as I learned that I have the freedom to choose and follow my own desires that are aligned with His will, my dream job contacted me! It’s like I needed to learn a few things, meet a few people, & grow a little before I was prepared to take on what I knew I wanted but had convinced myself maybe wasn’t for me because I hadn’t achieved it yet (and God hadn’t allowed it yet).

I always said I wanted to work:

  • Where education and mental health intersect
  • In my own community
  • Where my kids are
  • Preferably at a place where I have the freedom to verbalize my faith since it’s part of my worldview and hard to keep it contained

Literally that’s the job I interviewed for the day after I wrote the last post (linked above) and was offered a week later!!! My kids aren’t there yet but will be for middle and high school. And the trajectory of my career and where our family will be for the next decade or so was set, so that gives me comfort since we’ve been so transient since…well…forever. I feel free to settle in roots and relax a little. That feels good.

So now I’m School Counselor Amy K. Go Falcons!


Freedom to Choose the Journey

in-his-heart-man-plans-his-courseImage Cred

All this time, I’ve been praying for closed doors. I’ve been operating out the theology that there’s only one right way/path/decision to make as far as career (and everything else for that matter) is concerned. Sometimes it would have seemed that I had no options and other times several fabulous options. I would pray What’s the RIGHT one? #oldestchildsyndrome #perfectionist

I also figured that I if I finally understood what the correct choice/path was, then I would have less of an opportunity to fail. #afraidoffailure

Until this morning, while the husband was reading the girls’ devotional to them, I didn’t realize that I was living timid and bound. He read Proverbs 16:9: In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord establishes his steps.

I’ve heard this verse several times – it’s part of why I thought the way I thought – the Lord establishes his steps. This thought was always comforting. If the Lord is the one establishing the steps (and I’m walking with the Lord) then I don’t need to worry about the choices I make. Except…

Except it seemed that I wasn’t making any choices. I’ve been living reactionary for the past few years and wondering when the Lord was going to show me what choice I had to make. When was He going to let me know what job I should take, what population I should work with, what kind of counseling was I supposed to do? This morning though, the first part of the verse of what God gave me ears to hear: In his heart, a man plans his course…

I was cleaning the kitchen and stopped dead in my tracks as if I were hearing this verse for the first time. There was no condemnation in the fact that a man wants to plan his course. In fact, it seemed to be normal and ordained and OKAY for a man (or woman, in my case) to plan his own course. It was like I was being given permission at that moment – more than permission…freedom – to make the choice for my life. It was okay to have a passion, an opinion, a direction (as long as it isn’t contradictory to His Word, obviously). And as long as I’m walking in step with Christ, being present with Him daily, He will guide my steps as I work my plan.

This comes with a different set of disciplines and faith. Instead of sitting on the sidelines and watching, waiting for God to tell me what to do, I need to take action with Him. This means diligent prayers. Diligent Bible reading. Discipline. Decisiveness.

So this is what freedom and free-will is all about. Well, it’s not what it’s all about, but it’s a part I didn’t give receive until today. He made me – and you – unique. We have gifts, interests, personality styles, perspectives, and so much more that no one else has. These do not need to be compromised when using them for both career and Christ. It’s like I thought giving up “myself” meant giving up my personality. Not true! This morning He spoke to me and said “I want you to follow your desires as you walk with me. I want you and I to walk with each other as you start this journey. Be teachable. Keep peace. Love others. But stay focused. It makes Me smile when you are chasing your dreams with Me.”

So here we go!