Coping hardly or hardly coping. Rediscovering healthy coping mechanisms in 2022
Sitting out with a journal and pen under a tree the other day, I spent an hour jotting down thoughts that had come up and actions that needed to be done in order to keep those thoughts at bay. I wanted to get a grasp of why overwhelm had come up and as such, alone time and writing had usually done the trick. Once that had been done, I felt a weight lifted from my chest as I sauntered home with peace of mind. That was before finding the next thing to worry about and then, finding a solution to that too (eventually).
You see, four years ago, that would’ve been different. There would’ve been a bit more panic, some phone calls and procrastination. There would’ve been less coping and more frustration. Thankfully, there have been opportunities to see what has worked and hence, some progress with coping.
As per a previous post, I shared a reminder that, some of us think to speak while others speak to think. We all process things differently and this can affect how we cope in various situations and how we behave and aim to understand each other. Our thoughts are our own and they can influence how we feel and then, behave. Using different mechanisms to understand our thoughts and beliefs is therefore important. Learn some techniques to manage your thoughts.
You see, there is a thin line between healthy and unhealthy, between habit and ad hoc ideas and indeed how we define coping as humans. Being clear on these is a great starting point.
Something can feel good but not be healthy. Likewise, something can feel uncomfortable (at least at the beginning) and be very healthy. For example, venting about somebody or something to our nearest and dearest can feel great (you’re venting out of your system, after all) however for those around you, it might not be the healthiest. Going to the gym to sweat our frustration in a weights class might not feel so good at the time however it is healthy for overall wellbeing and mindset.
See what I mean?
Some thoughts to consider as regards how coping can happen are listed below:
- Understanding your nervous system and how your body feels is imperative to building healthy coping mechanisms. This includes when you’re stressed, sad or angry, there will be sensations in your body that tell you what is happening. Knowing these and avoiding covering them up with stimulants is important.
- Recognising your addictions. There are certain behaviours that can be coping mechanisms and are addictive. These include the likes of alcohol, caffeine, gossiping and binge-watching television. Being aware of when these are turned to is imperative to replacing them with healthier mechanisms. Example: when considering a glass of wine, have a cup of tea instead. Building awareness in that moment is vital.
- Knowing what you’re actually coping with means that you can be more pragmatic about it. Is it something small that has triggered you or is it something bigger? If it’s hysterical, it’s historical is the best advice I’ve heard on when we are triggered. If it’s something semi-small that occurs and you find that you are extremely overwhelmed, there is a bigger root issue that needs to be addressed.
- Consider a time when you coped really well, what are the actions and behaviours that led to this? We’ve got natural ways of coping and then, we’ve got learned or observed ways of coping. Therefore, there are naturally healthy coping mechanisms that you can go back to based on what worked before.
Jot down some ideas – sit in meditation – ask a friend for advice – see a therapist . There are endless ideas I could share and am happy to. In the meantime, the most significant factor is considering yourself and how you cope overall. This will lead to the greatest change.