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During the recovery process, it is vital to develop healthy coping skills to

replace the role of the eating disorder. These skills may not happen

naturally and will require practice for them to begin to replace old,

unhealthy coping mechanisms. Different circumstances may call

for different types of coping techniques or the use of a combination

of skills. 

It can be hard to think of skills when in the moment, which makes it

easy to fall back on old, unhealthy ways to cope. Consider making a

coping box that contains a list of coping skills along with things like

markers, coloring books, your favorite playlist, lotions, puzzles, etc.

Keep this box in a place that is easily accessible when feeling


Add to the list below to create a list of skills that work best for you. 

Distraction Techniques

Distraction skills can help you redirect thoughts that are fueling overwhelming emotions or urges. These skills can

be useful for getting through intense moments but should not be used as a means to avoid dealing with underlying issues.

Write in your journal
Listen to music - consider upbeat or meditative
Watch a sunset
Color in a coloring book
Play a game
Work a crossword puzzle
Clean out a junk drawer
Go through stacks of mail or magazines
Go for a walk
Play an instrument
Play with a pet
Paint a picture
Watch a movie - avoid sad movies
Read a book
Organize a closet
Watch YouTube or TikTok videos
Write a gratitude list
Call or text a friend and talk about anything
Play with your hair and makeup
Paint your nails

Grounding Techniques


These activities are especially useful for those with PTSD. They can help you to stay in the moment and combat flashbacks, dissociation, and unwanted memories.


Notice your breathing, taking deep, slow, full breaths

Notice and list the colors in your surroundings 

Listen to the different sounds in your environment

Notice the feel of the air, the furniture beneath you, the floor beneath your feet

Taste what your drinking or eating, notice the flavors and spices

Notice the smells in the air

Plant your feet firmly on the ground

Touch and describe items around you

Count the beats in music

Ask for help, reach out

Tear up paper

Chew ice chips

Write down who and where you are

Change your environment

Describe the experience of what you are doing, (washing dishes, folding clothes)

Play a memory game


Soothing Techniques 


These techniques help you bring intense emotions or physical sensations to a manageable level and tend to be more calming and relaxing.


Take a warm bath

Apply body lotion

Practice imagery (imagine yourself in a place of peace, a beach, the mountains, floating in a bubble, etc.)


Listen to soothing (not sad) music

Cuddle with a pet or stuffed animal

Light scented candles 

Sit in the warm sun for a while

Apply or diffuse essential oil

Wrap yourself in a blanket

Watch your favorite show or movie

Color or paint

Drink a hot beverage


Use a weighted blanket


Opposite to Emotion Action


This technique helps you to move beyond emotions that tend to keep you stuck and fuel unhelpful behavior. Those emotions may elicit the desire to isolate, reinforce the emotion through unhelpful behaviors, or latch onto emotions that don't fit the situation. This skill requires you to act exactly opposite of where your emotions are trying to lead.


Listen to upbeat music


Get outside

Call a friend

Reach out for support

Watch a happy movie

Challenge your thoughts

Make plans with a friend (and keep them)

Nervous african woman breathing calming
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