One of the primary difficulties with incorporating new coping skills is that when you need them, you are in crisis, which often means you don’t know that you need them or can’t remember them!
This is why it is important to practice coping skills when you’re not in crisis.
The barrier to practicing when you’re not in crisis is that…you’re not in crisis, so you want to enjoy your peace instead of preparing for the next crisis.
This is a mistake. And I rarely make that kind of judgment. You must practice coping skills in order for them to be available to you when you need them.
Here’s an analogy: let’s say you’re going to live in the woods for a month. When is the best time to learn to pitch a tent and hunt and gather (which plants are edible versus toxic, how do you fish and hunt and what supplies will you need?)?
The best time to learn how to live in the woods is *before* you plan to live in the woods.
How much preparation would you need if you’ve never camped, hunted, fished, gathered, made a fire in the rain, cooked over a fire, collected drinking water? To be successful, you would want to learn and practice new skills for weeks or months at least.
You could pitch a tent in your yard, fish locally, watch videos on preparing game, buy raw provisions at the store and practice preparing them at home, and find reliable experts to learn from.
Coping skills for panic attacks, flashbacks, intense emotions, emotional dysregulation, and other health crises can be likened to living in the woods because both are survival skills.
You can choose to go camping or not go. Coping skills are needed any and possibly every day of your life. Right now.
Think of all the preparation required to live in the woods for only one month. You’ll be living in your mind for decades!
So start practicing now! Talk to a therapist or visit your local library or browse Amazon for self-help titles today. Your survival skills need practicing now.