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Coping Mechanisms & Techniques

Helpful thinking skills and ways to process your emotions in a healthy, grounding manner.

· Coping Mechanisms

The 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique

This skill is used for grounding you and bringing you back to the present moment during times of anxiety, panic, or extreme emotion.


5 (FIVE) things you can see around you. Nature, objects, people, anything in your surroundings.

4 (FOUR) things you can touch. your clothing, the ground, your phone/ device, a chair etc.

3 (THREE) things you can hear. This can be any sound, voices, music, wind, white noise etc.

2 (TWO) things you can smell. Maybe your hair still smells of shampoo or your clothes of detergent. Maybe the air smells of coffee or your pencil of wood and paint.

1 (ONE) thing you can taste. Do you have gum or a mint, perhaps a soda with you? Are you eating a meal? (URMC)

Mental Reframing

This skill involves taking thoughts that are often negative, and reframing them in a different perspective to seem more manageable and rational. For example, you could reframe the thought "It will feel horrible if I fail my quiz tomorrow" to something like "I will do the my best on the quiz, and ask for help with the material after. i am so much more than quiz grade." (NAMI)

Emotion Awareness

Being emotionally aware involves learning to identify, process and accept your emotions, rather than trying to push them away or run from them. You can't control your thoughts and feelings, but you can choose how to respond. Accept that you are feeling a certain way, let yourself feel it, then take action to minimize the power of the feeling over you. (NAMI)

Radical Acceptance 

Learning to entirely, unconditionally accept something that you have no control over is an effective way to relieve anxiety and pressure. You cannot get rid of or avoid suffering, but you can prepare it, learn how to respond, and take measures to care for yourself accordingly. (NAMI)

Opposite Action 

This technique involves acting in an opposite way from how your thoughts tell you to. For example, identifying urges to isolate or panic can be fought by socialization or self soothing. This effectively proves that you have the incredible strength to recognize thoughts without letting them control you. (NAMI)


Not to be confused with ignoring or suppressing emotions, temporarily distracting yourself with more relaxed or pleasurable activities can both allow you to regain mental energy and come back to your pressing experiences with a fresh state of mind or new perspectives.  

Venting/ Talking About It

As long as the person you are venting to, is trustworthy and emotionally ready, venting can be a great way to set down your struggles with someone who can offer other perspectives and emotional support.

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