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
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.
Finding a coping strategy that works for you
Voice Collective is a 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.
I’m worried that my coping strategies are causing me harm – what can I do?
Any coping strategy might become problematic if it comes into conflict with other parts of life, for example, by causing physical health problems, relationship difficulties or financial issues. For example, drinking alcohol might feel helpful
Understanding the ‘why’ behind the coping strategy can be a starting point for exploring other options. The same coping strategy, drinking alcohol, might be used by different people for different reasons: to block out powerful voices, make the person feel more in control, numb emotions, connect with different memories or feelings, or feel more confident. Identifying why the strategy is being used, and validating it, can open up a conversation or reflection on what other strategies might be used in its place. You can search our coping strategies by theme to look for similar coping strategies.
For people who are worried about their drinking, services such as
Some people use self-harm or self-injury to cope with distressing voices. Self-harm is generally understood as “intentional self-poisoning or injury, irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act” (Nice guidelines). It includes cutting, burning, ingesting harmful substances (including overdosing), skin picking, banging head or limbs, and many more.
Self-harm is sometimes used as a coping strategy, and for some people, it is helpful
Self Injury Support, a service for women and girls who self-harm, have produced a range of resources on different ways of thinking about self-harm, and alternative coping strategies for dealing with difficult feelings. They also offer a range of support services for women and girls across the UK. The National Self-Harm Network
See also: In crisis?