Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Ultimate List of Coping Activities

(adapted from The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook)

These activities have often come between me and acting on eating disorder symptoms or using substances. By delaying the response to urges and engaging in an activity first, I put one step between relapse and me.

This “ultimate list” only contains a small percentage of the activities that can be used for coping. To add to this list, please email ideas to:

Make a coping box:
A coping box is a place for you to put activities and affirmations that you can go to when you need them. Making the box can be a coping activity in and of itself. Go to an arts and crafts store and buy a wooden or sturdy cardboard box. Get any materials you’ll want to use to decorate it – magazines, paints, markers, glue. Decorate the box by painting, coloring or creating a collage on it with calming colors and inspiring words. Then write coping activities, tools and affirmations on slips of paper to keep in the box.

- Call a friend
- Go out and visit a friend
- Invite a friend to come over
- Organize a party
- Do yoga, tai chi or Pilates, or take a class to learn
- Sit or lie down, take deep breaths, and do some stretches
- Go for a walk in a park, or someplace peaceful
- Go outside and watch the clouds
- Ride a bike
- Go for a swim
- Go hiking
- Go to your local playground and join or watch a game being played
- Sit and throw a tennis ball against a wall
- Get a massage
- Get out of the house, even if it’s just to sit outside
- Go for a drive, or a ride on public transportation
- Plan a trip to a place you’ve never been before
- Take a nap, or go to sleep
- Take a cooking class
- Go outside and play with your pet
- Give your pet a bath
- Borrow a friend’s dog and take it to the park
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Go outside and watch the birds and animals
- Find something funny to do, like reading the Sunday comics
- Watch a funny movie (collect funny movies to have on hand for when you’re feeling down)
- Go to the movie theater and watch whatever’s playing
- Listen to music
- Watch television
- Go to a sporting event, like a baseball or football game
- Play a game with a friend
- Play solitaire
- Play a video game
- Go online to chat
- Visit your favorite websites (maybe you are doing that already!)
- Create your own website or blog
- Join an online dating service
- Sell something you don’t want on the internet
- Go through your old clothes and bring them to Good Will or Salvation Army
- Do a puzzle
- Call a crisis hotline to talk to someone
- Go get a haircut
- Go to the spa
- Go to a library
- Go to a bookstore and read
- Go to your favorite café for coffee or tea
- Visit a museum or local gallery
- Go to the park or mall and people-watch
- Pray or meditate
- Go to your church, synagogue, temple or other place of worship
- Write a letter to a friend, family member, or your Higher Power
- Call a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Learn a new language
- Sing along with your favorite songs
- Turn on loud music and dance around your room
- Take photographs
- Join a club
- Plant a garden
- Work outside
- Knit, crochet or sew—or learn how to
- Make a scrapbook with pictures
- Paint your nails
*this has been one of the most useful tools for me – it keeps your hands tied up until your nails dry – a crucial delay
- Change your hair color
- Take a bubble bath or shower
- Sign up for a class that excites you at a local college or online
- Read your favorite book, magazine, newspaper or poem
- Write a list of things you like about yourself on a picture of you
- Write a poem, story, movie, or play
- Write in your journal or diary
*journaling is one of the my most used coping tools—don’t worry about what to write, just write.
- Word purge
*write all of your stresses, worries, fears and negative thoughts on paper, then tear it up and throw it out
- Write a loving letter to yourself when you’re feeling good and keep it with you to read when you’re upset
- Draw a picture
- Paint a picture with a brush or your fingers
- Write about someone you admire and why
- Make a list of ten things you’d like to do before you die
- Create your own list of pleasurable activities


  1. I love the tip about painting your nails - very smart! And of course I believe in word purge too :-)

  2. yes, word purge is great for a writer - like you!

  3. I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the
    layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify
    it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is
    rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

    Feel free to visit my web page -

  4. hi!,I really like your writing very so much! percentage we communicate more about your article on
    AOL? I need a specialist on this house to unravel my problem.

    Maybe that is you! Taking a look forward to peer

    My web blog; book of raw online spielen ()