This past week I went to a new Naturopath, and if you have ever been, the intake is about 90 minutes. They ask you every question about your health, including lifestyle, genealogy, nutrition, exercise, etc. And this new Naturopath of mine is thorough. She went over everything.
And then she asked me something that I haven’t been asked for quite a while. And the last time I was asked it, I had a much different answer. And trust me when I say I have been to many many coaches, therapists, natural doctors, sports doctors, etc. All with their own version of an intake process.
The question was: What do you do to cope?
And this was the first time in a long time that I had an answer. I have coping strategies, and they include more than scrolling through social media feeds. Do they happen all of the time? No, but I’m pretty consistent with using one (or more) of the strategies (that I get into down below) when something derails my life a bit. For me, it doesn’t need to be a big thing to have a reason to use a strategy.
Before therapy, I didn’t have positive coping strategies at all. I would ‘add to cart’, I would have wine or beer, and I would just sit and scroll. Definitely not coping well.
Coping is when you take an event, or situation and feel your way through it. Coping is the process of responding effectively to problems and challenges. It minimizes the damaging impact on our bodies, and minds.
In some ways, therapy has made me want to feel. I don’t want to push down emotions, or ignore my responses. I want to feel through them. And so, my coping strategies help me feel through situations that I might otherwise ignore. I think of it as rupture and repair.
An event happens (rupture) —> I respond with a coping strategy (repair)
That really oversimplifies it, but maybe it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. And like I said, not every event has to be life changing. Sometimes, it’s as simple as our plans change at the last minute. And I’ve never been one to lean into change very well. In the past, I might get moody, quiet, and start using victim language. Now, I will use one of the strategies below and the outcome is much healthier. I repair any story I’m making up in my head, and it doesn’t derail my day or week.
Meditation. I have shared this many times, but I just passed 200 days of consecutive mediation. And I sometimes meditate several times a day. I find a lot of calm in having 10-20 minutes of guided meditation. It gives me clarity, it calms me down, and I feel a sense of purpose when I’m done. I can’t articulate much more than that, but it works for me.
Journaling. I have also shared this one. I don’t journal every day anymore. I journal about 4 times a week, and it’s amazing what comes out. It is definitely a coping strategy that has helped me work through things that otherwise would have stayed inside. I’m a big fan of pen-to-paper, but there are also online options to journalling. Reflection app is one that has come across my desk a few times. There is a premium option, but you can certainly use the free version as well.
Exercise. This one hasn’t always been consistent for me. Because it’s hard. Although I have been consistently exercising now for almost 10 months. And to add a little extra, and if you follow me on IG, I also hike Prairie Mountain once a month. I’ve said I’m doing this hike once a month in 2022, but I will most likely continue on throughout 2023. It’s just a promise that I have made to myself, that otherwise I don’t believe that I would find the time. And it is just hard enough.
Reading. I have listened to a lot of books over the past 2 years, but I have always enjoyed reading an actual book. With pages. So recently I have read 4 books and find myself really enjoying it. I often read books with purpose, so I’m giving myself permission to read some fiction. Give my mind a break from always consuming knowledge.
Organize. This one definitely doesn’t work for everyone. But it does for me. If my day is slowly derailing, and nothing seems to be working out, plus I have a messy kitchen. Watch out. So, now I notice things slipping a little bit, and I will go and clean up the kitchen, do a load of laundry, change the sheets. Anything that has a start and a finish. And that little boost of completing a task is just what I need to get back on track. This video talks about the benefit of making your bed. If it work for Navy Seals right? This type of thinking works for me, and the goal in any of this is to find things that work. So your job is to find the things that work for you.
Now remember, the great thing about all of this is that you can add coping strategies to your life forever.
I will often search out what other people are using and I can spot a coping strategy a mile away. I’m pretty introverted, so I often use things to cope that include just me, myself and I. As I lean more into life, I see that growing my community is helpful. And that community can become a coping strategy in itself.
I’m always working on me. It never stops. That’s the beauty of the journey called life.