Hacking the Code of Marital Conflict

4 Ways to Build a Coping Portfolio

A coping portfolio is a valuable tool for managing stress and difficult situations. It is essentially a collection of skills, habits, and resources that an individual can use to cope with stressors and stay emotionally resilient.

I’m Alan Hickey, therapist at Silver River Counseling, and in this article, I’ll share with you the four different types of coping skills and how to build a personalized coping portfolio.

A coping portfolio includes a variety of resources and techniques, such as:

  • A list of trusted friends or family members to reach out to in times of stress
  • A collection of inspirational quotes or affirmations
  • A list of self-care activities
  • Information on local support groups or mental health resources

It could also include coping skills such as:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Journaling prompts

The exact contents of a coping portfolio will vary depending on the individual’s needs, preferences, and stressors.

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The first type of coping skill is separation. Simply put, this is you creating a physical distance between yourself and a stressor.

For example, one might choose to leave the room, walk away, or throw the object that is causing frustration. It is important to note, however, that while separation can be an effective strategy in the short term, it may not always be practical or possible in the long term.

It can also lead to avoidance of the problem rather than addressing it. Additionally, separation may not always be the best solution for the particular situation or relationship.

Here are some examples of separation skills that can help calm yourself enough to be more present with other people or situations:

  • Temporarily leaving the room to give yourself a breather
  • Going outside for a brief walk
  • Walking to the kitchen or water fountain to pour yourself a glass of water
  • Excusing yourself to the restroom



The second type of coping skill is distraction. Distraction involves creating a mental distance between a person and a stressor.

One way to apply this technique is by engaging in activities that require concentration, such as solving puzzles, reading a book, or practicing a musical instrument. Another method is to engage with nature, such as taking a walk or visiting a park.

By doing so, individuals can calm their minds and reduce the impact of stress on their overall wellbeing. It is important to note that while distraction can be a helpful tool in managing stress, it is not a permanent solution and should be used in combination with other stress-reduction techniques for best results.

Some other distraction-based coping skills to put in your coping portfolio are:

  • A list of movies or TV shows to watch
  • A playlist of happy or calming songs
  • A puzzle or coloring book
  • A book or magazine to read
  • A list of funny or inspiring YouTube videos to watch



The third type of coping skill is confrontation. Confrontation involves activities that acknowledge the internal stress. These activities can be very helpful in coping with difficult emotions.

Venting to a friend can be a great way to let out your feelings and receive support from someone you trust. Journaling is also a good way to express your thoughts and feelings in a safe and private way.

When you’re feeling sad and haven’t cried, watching a sad movie can help you release pent-up emotions. Listening to music that resonates with the pain inside can also be a powerful way to confront or release difficult emotions.

So, feel free to add a confrontation-based coping skill to your portfolio:

  • Journaling
  • Calling a friend
  • Seeing a therapist
  • Listening to sad music



The fourth type of coping skill is diffusion. Diffusion is the releasing of the physical tension of the stressor through physical activity.

This can be done through physical activity such as cardio exercise, yoga, working out, or simply going for a brisk walk.

By engaging in physical activity, the body is able to release built-up tension, leading to a more relaxed state of being.

So, consider adding these diffusion-based coping skill to your portfolio:

  • Physical exercise
  • Yoga
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Lifting weights
  • Deep breathing exercise

Building a coping portfolio is a proactive way to manage stress and improve emotional well-being. By identifying and incorporating effective coping skills into daily routines, individuals can better manage stressors and stay resilient in the face of challenges.

So, if you’re ready to learn how to turn your coping skills into coping strategies and build your coping portfolio, schedule an appointment today.