Let’s talk about coping skills.
Those things we do to help us get though a tough patch.
Sometimes they are healthy, sometimes they are unhealthy.
So what do we do when we want to replace an unhealthy coping mechanism work a healthy one?
Or what about when a typically okay coping skill is no longer helpful or appropriate?
I’m looking for some new coping skills.
For celebration/relaxation, for example.
I might usually choose chocolate or a favorite alcoholic drink.
Now, I’m having to stay away from alcohol (and coffee, for that matter) because my adrenals (which handle stress management) are shot to hell, and stimulants make it worse.
And for other health reasons, I’m having to stay away from sugar, too. And most starchy carbs.
Obviously I have some unhelpful coping skills. Lol especially for someone trying to take better care of her health.
It can be more complicated than that though, right?
What about when I’m under some emotional stress and I really don’t want to deal? I mentioned last week that the months between November and March are a bit rough for me, emotionally. I tend to just watch TV. Something stressful. Ironically.
So I need some new options.
Options that allow me to celebrate. And options that allow me to cope. Cope in healthy ways, however. Ways that don’t undermine my larger health goals.
One thing I’ve learned is that there is no way around the difficult emotions. The only way is thru.
So let’s go thru.
Celebrating the good times
It’s gotta taste good, even if it’s not sugary or starchy-carb laden. Lol
It’s gotta involve people, especially people I care about.
Lamb chops and mashed cauliflower-potatoes.
Hand-held raw veggies with yummy cashew-artichoke dip, humus, or guacamole.
Those sound good, right? and I think they fit my requirements.
I’m learning to develop new, non-sugary, non-starchy comfort foods.
I’m learning to make sure that I include people in my life in those times when I want to celebrate. To share those wins with a friend.
You notice that I still have this thing about food. And I don’t think that’s all bad. But first and foremost I want that comfort I seek to be centered in community. (We’ll talk more about support networks later.)
Oh, and I should probably come up with some “celebratory” things for me to do that don’t involve eating anything. What do you think?
Coping during tough times
It’s gotta actually relax me
Not feed the adrenaline rush
Letting myself feel and think.
a trip to the cemetery,
a trip down memory lane with the help of some pictures,
cuddles with my boys,
a phone call with a friend.
Music that helps process the anger
The amazing thing about music is how cathartic it can be. Rocking out to your favorite tunes, allowing your emotions to release. I go through different stages what kind of music I need to listen to. Sometimes it’s calm and mellow. Sometimes it’s loud and obnoxious and angry. Sometimes it’s light-hearted and fun. I really like using music to set the mood reflect my mood.
Sometimes I need to just let the cars crash and burn:
Sometimes I forget the important things
Oh, and then there’s the part I forget sometimes — lack of sleep and dehydration affects my ability to handle life in healthy ways. Oops.
I don’t usually tend to notice this until I am starting to raise my voice with my children and I’m getting irritated with things that I normally have the patience for. It helps to own it to verbally speak it and admit it.
Of course none of this is a substitute for getting actual medical help.
Don’t let the stigmas of mental illness keep you from seeking professional help. All of the things I mention here are great in addition to therapy/medication. Not to replace it in a muscle-your-way-thru kind of way.
The most difficult time for me to find a coping mechanism that works well and is healthy is when I don’t have many options.
When what I really want is to get outside by myself alone but I am the only parent at home with my children, getting out alone is impossible, especially in the winter time. When what I really want is to smash and break things, well, I am just generally too responsible for that and I don’t. It is tempting in those moments to just stuff my emotions, to eat them, and hope I don’t have to actually deal with them later. But I’ve been around the block enough times in the last few years to know that that is just not a good idea.
So the challenge for myself and for you is to lean in incrementally to positive change.
To choose coping mechanisms that are healthy that are good options for the current circumstances.
Coping mechanisms that do not sabotage my overall goals for healing.
Coping skills that help me find a way through instead of playing the avoidance game.
What coping mechanisms are working well for you?
I’d love to hear about it: