10 Ways to Cope With Borderline Personality Disorder

Here’s how To Cope with Borderline Personality Disorder!

If you suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD), then your emotions can be quite overwhelming. Some symptoms of BPD, such as erratic mood shifts, self-harming behaviors, suicidal thoughts, and intense emotional experiences, might affect the quality of your life, especially when it comes to impulsive behaviors.

These symptoms could all be related to one core feature: emotion dysregulation. Given this type of emotion dysregulation, you might deal with strong emotional responses and have difficulty managing such responses.

Unfortunately, most patients with BPD turn to unhealthy behaviors to cope with their emotional pain, like violence, self-harm, and even substance abuse.

borderline personality disorder
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Benefits of learning various coping skills

As emotion dysregulation is such an essential feature of BPD, many treatments for these personality disorders emphasize the relevance of building coping skills.

It’s important to know how to manage your emotions when they arise. What are coping skills, exactly? They are healthy ways of addressing situations and their resulting emotions.

Learning healthy ways to cope might bring a plethora of benefits. Such techniques could include:

  • building confidence in your ability to handle very difficult situations
  • improving your ability to continue to function properly even when you’re dealing with stressful circumstances.
  • reduce the intensity of the emotional distress you might be feeling.
  • reduce the likelihood of doing something harmful, like engaging in self-harming behaviors. Sometimes, patients with BPD do this to escape from emotional distress.
  • reduce the likelihood of engaging in behaviors that would ultimately destroy your relationships, especially when you are upset.
    reducing your overall experience of emotional dysregulation.

Luckily, there are thousands of coping skills that you could try to use to manage stressful situations and the emotions that arise as a result. Here are some of the most important coping skills that could work for you:

Play music

Music can be a very efficient and healthy way to explore your emotions. This is particularly helpful when you’re not very good at expressing your feelings.

Research also supported the idea that music could really make a difference in the mood. For instance, when you are experiencing feelings of sadness, you might prefer somber music.

There’s even a study published in the Journal of Positivity Psychology that showed how listening to upbeat songs could help improve people’s moods and even increase happiness.


Exercise can definitely have a positive impact on mood and emotion. There’s one 2022 study in pre-print that showed how physical activity could effectively improve emotional regulation ability.

However, researchers noted that the duration of exercise sessions could also impact the effects. However, another interesting study focused specifically on BPD discovered that a 20-minute exercise session didn’t have a significant negative impact on BPD.

Obviously, more research is needed to understand how different types of exercise could affect emotional regulation in people who suffer from BPD. Regular exercise can also be a useful coping skill when you’re dealing with very strong emotions.

Engage in an activity.

Behavioral activation is an effective strategy that requires changing the behaviors that play an essential role in feeding emotional responses. It’s often used in cognitive-behavioral therapy to aid people with depression, but it could also help people with borderline personality disorder.

Researchers also suggest that people with BPD engage in maladaptive behaviors as a response to life’s ups and downs. Utilizing behavioral activation could help people with this condition learn effective coping strategies that would ultimately aid in emotional regulation.

To use behavioral activation, you have to engage in highly engaging activities, especially when you have a hard time managing your emotions. Television and computer activities don’t really count here because they are too passive.

Find needed support.

There’s one study that proved how social support could be essential in mediating symptoms of perceived stress and depression in people with BPD.

But in reality, it’s much more complicated than this because people with borderline personality disorder also experience a wide range of social disadvantages and relationship issues.

People with BPD have poorer social support, more frequent negative interactions with others, and worse integration overall within their social groups.

Poor relationships, added to early trauma, could also contribute to the condition’s development. If you suffer from BPD, you need to take some steps, such as:

  • spending time with others
  • Working on your relationship skills
  • Seek professional help to improve your relationship skills.

Reaching out to other people could help when you’re dealing with strong emotions. You could call a supportive friend or a family member and ask for help, or call a helpline if you don’t have anyone in mind when you’re going through a crisis.

borderline personality disorder
Photo by Evgeny Hmur from Shutterstock

Ride it out.

The ability to control impulsive behaviors is a very important part of emotional regulation. People who have borderline personality disorder struggle to be efficient about it.

Building your capacity to tolerate distress and ride out an emotion until it passes could prevent emotional outbursts from happening. However, with enough practice, you could build your distress tolerance skill:

  • Learn how to be aware of your emotions and try to identify what you’re feeling.
  • Remind yourself that what you’re feeling won’t last forever.
  • Accept your feelings.
  • Remember that your thoughts don’t really dictate your actions.

Be mindful

Mindfulness involves completely focusing on the present moment while calmly accepting that you’re feeling and thinking about some things. This practice is an essential component of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a specific type of therapy that was specifically designed to treat borderline personality disorder.

You could become more aware of your internal states by learning how to be more mindful. If you understand your feelings, you could also become more aware of automatic negative thoughts that sometimes contribute to emotional problems and impulsive behaviors.

Ground yourself

Grounding is a very effective strategy that can help you cope with feelings of distress and anxiety. If you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, some grounding techniques could help put your mind back in the present moment.

When emotions seem to overwhelm you (it can happen when you’re “zoned out”), you could do something to ground yourself. Just grab an ice cube and hold it in your hand for a couple of moments, or snap a rubber band against your wrist.

This way, you will bring yourself out of negative thoughts. There are other sensory-based grounding techniques that could include holding a specific object, listening to noises in your environment, smelling food and flowers, or even taking a warm bath.

Breathe deeply

Deep breathing could deeply impact your emotions, mood, and anxiety levels. Research suggests that using deep breathing strategies could ultimately help decrease acute distress and promote long-term well-being.

This technique is often used as part of the distress tolerance skills used in DBT. Breathing deeply is probably one of the simplest relaxation methods.

You can sit or lie somewhere quiet and bring your attention to your breathing. Try to breathe evenly, slowly, and deeply. Watch your stomach rise and fall with every breath. It will help you stay grounded in the present.


If you’re a religious or spiritual person, or if you even thought about attending religious ceremonies, praying and attending weekly congregations could prove to be extremely helpful in times of extreme stress.

As research has found out, spirituality can have a positive impact on your process of coping with emotions and on your overall well-being. There’s one particular study that showed how people who had regular spiritual experiences had fewer negative emotions and more positive feelings.

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