Positive Coping Methods
Positive coping methods are those that help to reduce anxiety, lessen other distressing reactions, and improve the situation in a way that does not harm you further and which improves things not only today, but tomorrow and in the future as well. Positive coping methods can include:
- Muscle relaxing exercises
- Talking to another person for support
- Exercise in moderation, including walking, jogging, or swimming
- Taking a self-defense training or martial arts
- Hot baths
- Positive distracting activities, including recreational or work activities such as: cooking, gardening, taking a walk, playing tennis, going to the park, drinking tea, bowling, watching a movie, writing a letter, calling a friend, listening to music, cleaning, or doing arts and crafts.
- Stretching or yoga
- Breathing exercises—slow, deep breaths
- Joining a support group
- Calling a rape crisis center hotline
Negative Coping Methods
Negative coping methods can make problems worse. They may reduce your anxiety immediately, but “short-circuit” more permanent change and cause additional problems. Negative coping methods can include:
- Continuing to avoid thinking about the assault
- Social isolation (keeping to yourself)
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Binge eating (overeating)
- Avoiding counseling
- Cutting or hurting oneself
- Aggressive or violent actions
- Workaholism (working too much)
Ideas for coping with Memories of Sexual Assault
Here are some steps to help you actively stay in the present or “here and now”:
- Keep your eyes open and actively look around you. Look around the room or area where you are. Turn the light on if it is off.
- Say a safety statement: “My name is (name). I am safe right now. I am in the present, not the past. I am at (location) and the date is (date).”
- Touch objects around you (a pen, your purse, a book, your clothing, your chair) and notice how they feel.
- Carry something in your pocket or purse (ring, a rock, any safe object) that you can touch whenever you have thoughts of the assault.
- Saying a coping statement: “I can cope right now. This feeling will pass.”
- Think of people you care about (look at photographs of your best friend).
- Run cold water over your hands.
- Jump up and down.
- Eat something and notice how it tastes.