COPING WITH VOICES
What are coping strategies?
Coping strategies are practical techniques that can help us to manage day-to-day life. We all rely on coping strategies when dealing with difficult emotions, situations or relationships. Some people who get anxious using public transport might listen to music or audiobooks as a means of distraction. Others who are afraid of being in confined spaces might practice deep breathing or visualisation exercises to reduce the feeling of panic.
At times, some voice-hearers might feel completely overwhelmed by their voices, and may feel paralysed and unable to do the things they want or need to do. However, there are many creative ways in which people who hear voices do learn to cope with, manage, or live alongside their voices and emotions. Some people have even found that their voices have given them helpful suggestions along the way, or have proven a source of strength, reassurance or assistance at times of difficulty. Others find that once they start experimenting with different coping strategies, their relationship with their voices can change.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to coping strategies – we’re all unique.
On this page, you’ll find a coping strategy toolkit which contains some ideas to get you started. You can find a coping strategy by choosing any of the categories, or you can browse through them all here.
If you’re concerned that some of your coping strategies might be causing you or other people harm, you can skip straight to this section. If you’re feeling hopeless and looking for immediate help, you can jump straight to In crisis? where you’ll find different ideas for how to get help quickly.
I’m worried that my coping strategies are causing me harm – what can I do?
Finding a coping strategy that works for you
Voice Collective is a UK-wide London based charity that specializes in supporting young people who hear voices, see visions or have other unusual experiences. They have been thinking about different ways of coping with distressing voices for a long time, and much of what they have to say is useful for people of all ages. In the view of one of their founders, Rachel Waddingham, it is helpful to think about coping strategies in terms of
Voice Collective identify six different types of coping strategy:
Designed to help you feel calmer, safer and more secure. Useful if your voices threaten you, or make you feel scared or anxious.
Can help you block out the voices or make them seem quieter and further away. Useful if you need a break from your experiences or want to concentrate on something else.
Designed to change the power balance between you and the voices. Can help you feel more in control of your experiences.
Useful when you want to express your feelings and the experiences you are going through. Can be carthartic and/or a way of letting off steam.
Can help you to be kinder to yourself when you’re distressed by your voices, emotions or other difficult experiences. May also involve being compassionate towards the voices themselves.
Helpful if you’re feeling isolated and alone, or disconnected from yourself, your body or the world in general.
COPING STRATEGY TOOLKIT
In the Coping Strategy Toolkit below you’ll find some different coping strategy ideas that we have collected through talking with voice-hearers, their friends and families. We’ve chosen to classify them using the Voice Collective system because we hope you’ll find it useful.