We take the money we earn and put it in the bank for when we need it. When we were kids, we’d take the monetary gifts we got from others and sock them away in our piggy banks for a rainy day or times of need.

A Coping Bank is similar. We take what we learn about coping alternatives to use when recovering from an eating disorder and put them away, in the backs of our minds, for when we need them. Yet during recovery that can be difficult, and during times of crisis it’s often hard to think of what we should do to cope.

Make your own Coping Bank and you can go and make a withdrawal when you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, confused, or any other difficult emotion, and in need of healthy ways to handle it.

How to make a Coping Bank:

Use a shoebox, an old piggy bank, a tupperware container, a juice bottle or whatever you can cut a slit in to make your deposits. It should also open easily so you can make withdrawals when you have to.

Decorate your bank with magic markers, crayons, paper, buttons, stickers, photos of loved ones, pets, affirmations, fabric, cartoon characters, or anything you like! Let the artist in you free.

Cut a small slit somewhere in the top or side of your item — this is where you will make deposits.

Write a whole bunch of healthy coping alternatives on small sheets of colored paper (like construction paper, stationery, old greeting cards or index cards).

Here are some examples:

* Write in your Journal
* Listen to your favorite music
* Write at least 5 affirmations
* Color in a coloring book
* Play your favorite instrument
* Tell one person how you feel
* Pop or stomp on bubble-wrap
* Have a water balloon fight
* Paint a picture
* Take a long hot bath
* Take a long drive
* Take a leisurely walk
* Watch your favorite movie
* Take a trip to the toy store
* Fingerpaint or doodle
* Build with blocks. Build a tower and knock it down
* Build with Legos
* Spend time with your pet
* Come up with your own, too!

Take all these little sheets of paper and deposit them into your bank. Try to get at least ten to fifteen ideas in your bank. You can always add more as time goes on. You can make deposits whenever the mood strikes you.

Place your Coping Bank on your dresser, next to your bed, in your china cabinet – some place easily accessible and where you’ll know where it is. Make a mental commitment to yourself to go to your Coping Bank when you need to use it.

Next time you are feeling sad, angry, overwhelmed, confused, or stressed out, and need to find healthy ways to cope, go to your Coping Bank and make a withdrawal. Pull out one of those sheets of paper and do what it says! Remember to put it back in your bank after you’ve read it, so it’s there for the future.