Coping arsenal
The tools you use to deal with difficult situations in your relationship make up your “coping arsenal”.  The more coping strategies you have on hand, the better you’ll be prepared to meet each challenge that comes along.

By: Family - Family - 11/15/2018

The tools you use to deal with difficult situations make up your "coping arsenal".  When you face a new kind of stress within your SOF family or outside of it, the ways you normally deal with problems might not work, so the more coping strategies you have on hand, the better you'll be prepared to meet each challenge that comes along.  And relationship stressors can be some of the most challenging to deal with.

For example, if your go-to way of coping when your teenager is defiant is to vent to your partner, you might overlook taking direct actions to fix the problem.  Or if you've always been the action-oriented problem-solver, you might disregard the importance of being a good listener when your partner or child needs someone to hear them out. And you might struggle to ask for what you need.

You can think of coping skills in general as either "problem-focused" or "emotion-focused."  It's a good idea to have some of each.  Take stock of your current coping strategies, and then consider these suggestions for expanding your arsenal in both categories.  Exercising a variety of coping skills is also important to model for your children.  Kids learn how to deal with stress from their parents.

Problem-Focused Tips

  1. Take a direct approach.  Are there ways you can directly tackle the problem?  You might find it easy to quickly dismiss some ideas, but first make a comprehensive list.  You might discover a novel approach if you don't instantly abandon some ideas.

  2. Practice self-restraint.  Maybe you're trying to take on too much or giving in to impulses that won't actually help.  Consider slowing down and thinking through things thoroughly before you act.

  3. Plan.  Try making a specific plan with steps to work through your cause of stress.  A problem that initially feels overwhelming can feel more manageable if you break it down into smaller chunks or steps.  Then you can focus on just one step at a time as you move closer to overcoming the bigger problem.

  4. Get advice.  Asking what others think about what you're going through can give you a different perspective and help you find different approaches.  Be clear about what you need.  There's a difference between seeking advice and looking for someone to rescue you.

Emotion-Focused Tips

  1. Reinterpret the situation.  It might help to look at your situation in a different way.  Try looking at it as an ongoing challenge rather than a threat.  Focus on what you can control, and accept what you can't.

  2. Accept how you feel.  You can't force yourself to feel different instantly.  Instead, try tuning in to how you feel rather than pushing the feelings away.  You might find that the feelings don't linger as long.

  3. Engage in a little healthy distraction while keeping perspective.  Put the problem into perspective.  If there's nothing you can do about it right now, sometimes it's useful, in the short term, to distract yourself from it.  If you can't solve the problem this moment because of circumstances outside your control, keep busy doing other things until the time is right.

  4. Find emotional support.  This isn't the same as getting someone's input.  Instead, focus on telling someone what you're feeling and ask for empathy—to just listen and be supportive without offering advice.

  5. Seek spiritual strength.  For some people, a belief in something greater than themselves can be an important source of support and strength in times of stress.  Finding purpose rooted in your spiritual beliefs might help focus and motivate you.

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