Ways to Cope
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
I have been working on creating good coping mechanisms for quite some time now, and it took me a while to realize that they are actually working. In fact, it took a second video call with a counselor at school to tell me that my coping mechanisms are working, and that I am "okay".
I have anxiety and depression, and I have been trying to not allow these things to control my life, and I have also been trying to not reach towards the "negative" ways to respond.
The coping mechanisms I have personally are for when I feel super anxious, sad, worried, stressed, and overwhelmed. And in this time of a global pandemic, these coping mechanisms are helping me feel grounded most of the time. So I figured I would share.
1. Schedule in some things to look forward to doing
I love calendars and my Passion Planner, and having things to do and look forward to is a lot of how I manage my anxiety. Usually everything I have planned is scheduled out and color coded and it's very exciting. However in this time there is nothing to go out and do, so my planner has been looking kind of empty. As a result, I found new things to do from home that I could schedule into my planner and also have something to look forward to.
With some of my friends we started playing Dungeons and Dragons online, and almost every week consistently we have played on Mondays and Thursdays. So each week I look forward to those evenings. Every Monday I also look forward to the new video to watch for the weekly portion of the Next 90 Days Challenge, and on Tuesday I look forward to a new RISE podcast to listen to for the week. In addition, each day I look forward to doing workout videos that have been set by a monthly calendar. Having something to look forward to, even if it's really simple, really helps.
2. Follow some sort of routine and stick to it
My morning routine is basically exactly as it was; I haven't changed it. I like knowing what I'm going to do for the day, as that helps me, and so I follow the routine that I've made for myself to have some sort of consistency and structure.
I wake up, make my bed, shower, get dressed, meditate, read my Co-Star for the day, look at my planner, and the only thing I added was writing down 5 things that I'm grateful for. Each day I've been wearing a t-shirt or sweatshirt with leggings, sweatpants or shorts, because then I don't have an excuse to not work out. By having just a morning routine and wearing clothes that motivate me I feel like I have a plan of action to start everyday with.
I also have continued to wash my clothes and sheets, and do my other chores on the same days I always have. At my house we have continued to have pizza on Friday nights, even though I am not eating out at all during this time, in order to lower the chances of an allergic reaction.
3. Write down the good things and what you are grateful for
In the past I have struggled with finding the positive, and sometimes would only see the bad and the negative. This started to change for me at the beginning of 2019 when I started writing down one good thing that happened every day, and in November 2019, I did a monthly gratitude challenge that involved daily prompts for writing a paragraph or so. The effects of writing down good things and things I was grateful for were incredible, I was seeing so much more positive things around me. I even wrote an article for my school newspaper on how to start a gratitude journal.
As part of the Next 90 Days Challenge I am writing down five things per day I am grateful for. And even in the few weeks before the challenge started, I used the blank space in my planner to write down all of the good things that happened that day, and I have still continued to do that. By writing down about ten or so good things that happened and things to be grateful for per day I am finding myself to not only acknowledge the positive things, but wanting to create positive things.
4. Let yourself feel the emotions and express yourself
I have learned that holding in emotions is not good and avoiding working through them is also not good. By letting myself feel and go through the process I allow myself to heal and work towards reaching acceptance. While I'm in the process I do all sorts of things to express what I'm feeling including writing in my journal, talking to someone, creating something, meditating, dancing and just letting what I feel be felt.
This time is a grieving process, as everyone is facing all sorts of challenges and struggles. There's a lot of sadness, disappointment, frustration and uncertainty. Everyone has struggles, and all struggles are important, as they mean something to that person who has that struggle. By having empathy and connecting to that person who is struggling, they feel less alone. Emotions may appear personal, but they are also a shared social experience. Going through the grieving process does not have to be something that is done alone.
5. Focus on what can be controlled
I have been taking this one week and one day at a time, and doing everything I can to stay present. When I start to feel lost I get my journal and just write. I started to journal in fall 2019 and it's interesting because I wrote so many times over and over again that everything was too much, too fast, and felt like it was never going to slow down. I even had a journal assignment for my social psychology class earlier this semester where my professor commented that she hoped I would soon get some down time. And I got the down time. I'm using this time to work on myself and to come out of this quarantine better than I was before. As I can control what I do.
And I can control choosing to look for the joy. Part of the Next 90 Days Challenge is to find and create joy. And I am doing that for myself, because I know that I need it. So I throw those dance parties I have by myself in my house. I enjoy those hours of talking to my friends and laughing and crying together. I am hosting a virtual online party for my team next week and for tomorrow's meeting I am baking myself a celebration cake, because if this meeting was in person I would have baked. I am making the best with what I have. And I am so excited for Cinco De Mayo because it's on a Taco Tuesday and I don't even like tacos, but I'm planning to watch the Lego Movie and eat quesadillas.