Coping Skill: Know Your Warning Signs

Continuing with the development of new coping skills, I want to offer you the idea of getting to know your warning signs.

Warning signs are the ways you start to act or feel before you feel the big thing that sets off a cycle you’re trying to break, or makes you behave in a way you’d like to change.

Here’s my thought. If you can start to notice what’s happening before things progress, you can start to intervene earlier, and ultimately learn to cope better.

Some examples of warning signs:

  • you raise your voice
  • your stomach is upset
  • you feel a tightness in your chest
  • your mind starts to race and you lose focus
  • you get really quiet
  • you begin avoiding people, places, or work to be done

This came up this week in our family. A lot of us struggle with consistency, but for one of my crew, this particularly shows up in school. There are months when everything is going great, and then weeks when everything isn’t. These weeks come in waves, and we call them “slumps.”

We recognized the pattern just recently, and the other day decided to dig deeper to tune into the period before the slump.

I asked, “What do you feel? What do you tell yourself? Do you have any clues that you’re heading into a slump?”

These questions gave us some useful answers, and some actual warning signs we can look out for. We came up with a strategy of keeping track of these warning signs in a daily log – which is actually on an app (go technology!) – so that an awareness is developing and a shift can occur before it starts to feel overwhelming.

One thing I like about this idea? It puts the focus on our abilities and strengths to make a change. It’s so easy to get upset with our Self, or feel judgmental when we make the same mistake over and over … but if we look at things from a slightly different perspective – that we can use what we have to change – we can exist in a more positive internal space … a space of abundance and ability, rather than negativity and lacking.

As a side note, if you want to know more about your strengths and how to deploy them into your world, go take this free character strengths survey at So useful!

I invite you to take a few moments now to examine what your warning signs might be. How do you feel before things get really challenging? What happens in your body and your thinking? 

Can you start to keep track of these things? What might change if you identified them earlier in your stressful moments?

All of this information allows you to stay regulated and functional in moments of challenge or adversity. And that, my friends, means you are coping well.

Thank you, as always, for sharing this space and your time with me. I appreciate you being here.

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