Acne Positivity – Coping Toolkit!

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When we feel overwhelmed or stressed, it can be tempting to tell ourselves (or each other!) Just relax, calm down! When we are stressed or freaking out, that is easier said than done.

That’s why preparing a “coping tool kit,” a set of strategies for dealing with stress can be really powerful. It's like having a first aid kit, but for your mind! This can also help in breaking the stress-causing acne, acne-causing stress cycle. (Stress also impacts almost every other aspect of your mental and physical health! So of course, your skin responds too!) While it takes more than stress to cause acne, it doesn’t help!

Your tool kit should contain simple easy things that help you feel peace in your heart, breathe, and soften your muscles. Coping strategies like deep breathing, drinking a cool glass of water, listening to a favorite song, looking at a photo that you love, enjoying a mint, breathing in the scent of a candle, can all help with a quick mental reset. And just like a first aid kit should be ready and waiting to help on the spot with a physical injury, a coping tool kit works best when you don’t have to come up with ideas or materials when you are in the middle of feeling stressed or experiencing a crisis. Set aside some time, when you are feeling ok to come up with a list or even gather some materials for your coping tool kit so that it is ready the next time you find yourself impacted by stress or other unwanted emotions.

Also, like a first aid kit has materials for different injuries such as a bandage for wounds, or an ointment for a burn it is helpful to have different categories of supports in your coping toolkit. A well-rounded coping toolkit should include: physical, emotional, social, and “on the fly” coping techniques so that stress, sadness, nervousness, anger, and overwhelm can be treated from every angle. Here are some ideas:


  • Deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth
  • Take a walk around the block, run, dance
  • Choose some pleasant scents such as mint, eucalyptus, lemon, or others to breathe in
  • Mindfully drink a cool glass of water or hold and sip a warm cup of tea
  • Pet or gently hug your dog or cat

Emotional and/or Social: 

  • Identify your feelings, write about them in a journal
  • Listen to a musical playlist that allows you both to sit in your feelings and brings you relief
  • Scream into a pillow or sing the words to your favorite song out loud
  • take a break
  • Call family or a friend
  • Make an appointment with a counselor
  • Create or do something that gives you joy_ go solo or with a friend!

On the Fly: On the fly methods should be something you can do quickly and at the moment even if you are at work or school. Depending on how you feel, doing something “on the fly” might be best followed up by something that allows for a little more time later. 

  • take 5 deep breaths
  • stand up and stretch
  • send a quick text to a friend
  • say a prayer
  • Press your hands together as hard as you can
  • complete a 2 minute guided meditation

Now, unlike a first aid kit, yours will be personal to you, and might not look like anyone else’s and that is perfect! It should be “filled” with strategies that suit your coping style, that help you to experience your emotions, acknowledge them and maybe even let them go or move through them.

Stress, like acne, is a part of life! Most people experience acne at one point in their life, and everyone is guaranteed more than a little stress. But that doesn’t make it easy or fun! It completely stinks and it can feel like there is nothing to be done but live through the stress. But as my favorite skin doc says, “Stop that Stinkin’ Thinkin’” and instead go to your coping toolkit as a resource to help put a stop to the stress/acne cycle.  You deserve it, because you were made a masterpiece.

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