Mobilising your coping skills
So you feel like you have been doing OK in life up until now but that lately things are going a bit wobbly?
Or maybe you have experienced some recent changes and you are not sure how to integrate them fully into your life?
Or maybe you feel like you have fallen into a heap on the ground and you are not sure where to go from here.
What are they?
Your coping mechanisms are what will help you stand back up again, re-balance the wobbles and adapt to the changes. They keep you moving smoothly through your life, effectively managing distractions and disruptions to your plans along the way. They are the methods you use to keep yourself conscious, balanced and productive rather than numb, unconscious, spiraling out of control, procrastinating or completely dropping the ball.
They include things like:
- journaling/regular writing
- regular exercise
- music: both playing (if you can) and listening to
- poetry: both writing and reading
- dancing: where you think you "can" or not, this is great for getting energy flowing
- working with colour: in your home, your office space, your clothing, your surroundings in general, let colour do a lot of the work for you in changing moods and sitting in your feelings
- breathing: this means consciously noticing your breath, noticing its speed, depth and power - just for a minute (and feel the benefits straight away)
- creativity: cut and paste, glue stuff, colour in, explore the Child part of you for release from the heaviness of your headspace
- cooking is a creative pursuit too
- talking to others about how you are and how they are - sharing.
- turning off the noises: tv, radio, phones, machines of all kinds - just for a minute.
Use What you Have
You already have a range of coping skills: they are what got you this far in life. Some of them are helpful and have been assisting you in moving towards your goals, or achieving objectives. Their affect has been to help you in ways that you welcome, in ways that help you live a valued life that you are proud of and happy with.
Others are not so constructive. They are the ones that keep you from reaching your goals, they are the self-sabotage techniques you use to somehow, consciously or otherwise, prevent yourself from living a life you feel good about and happy with.
Some of your coping skills were learned young and were very effective for what you needed back then - but some of these are no longer useful. They belong in the world of Child rather than the world of Adult or Parent. It's time to review them and let some of them go - replacing them with more effective skills. They take you places you no longer want to go. It's hardest to let these ones go because you may not be sure what you will do if you don't have them to rely upon to help you control the feelings of anxiety, pain, isolation, fear, disconnection etc.
Exercise your coping skills regularly - daily, not just once in a while. Take the time to stop and check in with yourself a couple of times each week. Use these occasions to acknowledge how you are doing, and what you may need more or less of in order to keep the balance.
The key thing to remember is that your coping skills are not tools you pick up sometimes and leave aside other times: they are there with you in various formats throughout your daily life. Living mindfully and consciously will ensure that you learn to know when to apply certain skills (like stopping and relaxing) and when to apply others (like sitting in the discomfort and staying focussed on seeing an issue through to its end).