What are my coping skills?

Hey all! Happy Monday 🙂 What the what… I’m back here on the blog again… so soon. Also, who in creation says “happy MONDAY”?!? I’ve been posting more lately and it feels right. Does that make sense? Doing what I love and what makes me smile – writing and sharing!

What am I here to talk about today? Coping mechanisms and skills for your mental health toolbox. OK, so, I came across a quote the other day which inspired me to sit down and journal about what I define to be my purpose and goals. I’ve been extremely on edge lately and dealing with way more anxiety than “normal” for me. Knowing this, I knew that I NEEDED to take some time to myself and just write, process, and understand my feels. In doing this, I decided to define what my coping skills are or what could be a genuine coping mechanism for me and my life. Coping skills are a necessity, and in my opinion, the more in-tune we are with our needs and what things are supportive of our needs the easier reaching goals becomes. It’s never a bad thing to utilize skills and cultivate habits which support our goals and fall in line with what we feel is our purpose on this planet.

I am such a quote person it’s slightly ridiculous, not a bad thing, merely an observation. Anyways, “Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” ― Neil Gaiman

Like I said, define my purpose. Before getting into specifics, I just wanted to share some hiking panoramics which I love to look back at and reminiscence between hikes. THIS is a huge coping skill for me.

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All of that said, let’s jump into the primary topic of this post… coping skills. The categories to define various coping skills are some that I learned while in treatment, and honestly, I think they’re gold.

Based on the five senses, what are things that soothe you?

  • Sound: birds chirping, rain, thunder, the ocean, bells,  music
  • Smell: pine, coffee, mint, smoke from a campfire, lavender, fall leaves, cinnamon
  • Taste: berry, mint, coffee, cinnamon, vanilla
  • Touch: comfy clothing, hugs, hot showers, sauna (heat), soft blankets/being under multiple covers in bed, walking barefoot
  • Sight: sunshine, rain, the forest, waterfalls, mountains, blue skies, the ocean, wildlife

What can you do to reconnect with yourself physically?

  • Run OUTSIDE
  • Yoga
  • Go for a walk
  • Hike

What can you do to reconnect with yourself mentally?

  • Meditate (guided or unguided)
  • Journal
  • Write a blog post
  • Listen to a calming music playlist

What will you do if you need an out?

  • Remove myself calmly from a situation
  • Text a friend to call me/call a friend
  • Accept that saying NO is acceptable

What can you do to distract yourself and/or remove yourself from anxiety (I filled in this question with anxiety to get more specific)?

  • Meet up with a friend
  • Work on homework
  • Plan a workout
  • Read a book
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Take a nap
  • Take a hot shower
  • Hold a frozen orange (cool and useful technique learned in my program… keep an orange in the freezer and if you feel a panic attack coming on just sit down and hold said orange, your focus will move from negative and very robust emotions to the fact that your holding a freezing cold non-melting object… if this isn’t enough you can resort to filling a bowl with ice water and sticking your head in… YEP, I have done this (twice), and YEP it does the trick). I do think processing the feelings which led you to needing to utilize this skill in the first place though after the fact is important.

What will you do if you feel stuck?

  • Attempt to decipher my feelings
  • Talk with a close friend
  • Read old blog posts and journals to try to help regain a sense of self and light a fire under my ass
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Best friends make the world go round

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Replace and anxiety for depression and #nailedit (also nails it for depression also, of course!)

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Had to share this… Left class one day and just sat outside for ~ 15 mintues because I needed a moment (a lot of moments). Decided to snapchat a friend instead of getting lost inside of my head. #puttingskillstowork

What are some of YOUR coping skills? We’re all different.

Any quotes that speak to you lately?

Thanks for reading 🙂 xo, S

Lifting yourself up

Hi guys! How are you? I’m really happy to be posting again – three times all within a two week period. Impressive considering I haven’t been awesome about getting content onto the blog lately. But I’m doing better and actually enjoying school (shocker, I know) so that also makes me more inclined to post and discuss. While I do talk about my struggles, I much prefer to be discussing them in past tense versus present tense. It’s substantially easier and more comfortable (read: safer) to talk about what I’ve overcome versus what I’m working on overcoming. I’d rather sound like I have my shit together instead of having about 5% of an idea of what I’m actually doing. But, let’s be honest for a hot second – who actually has their shit together? If you do, feel free to pat yourself on the back or give yourself a high five. Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who actually gives myself a high five Winking smile

SO anyways, in my last serious talk post I was telling you all about how I’m really struggling with my anxiety lately and have been dealing with some nutty hearing hypersensitivity. Well, I still am. And it’s not an overnight quick fix. It developed slowly and my anxiety as I described in depth has been present for years. I’m working on it. There are good days and there are not so good days. There are times when I’m in class and want to walk out the door because someone is chewing gum or making some strange bodily noise. But it hasn’t happened yet this semester and I’m taking that for a win. By this time last semester I had dropped two courses. I’m currently in five and I’m managing five.

I like the word managing. It’s like saying “I’m handling my struggles to the best of my capabilities”. I’m not pretending they aren’t there because they most definitely are present daily. I’m also not allowing them to completely rule my life, because if that were the case I’d be living inside a giant real-life bubble. Lately it’s learning how to be flexible in my ways. Sure I might not want to discuss my struggles and needs for accommodations with my profs for their classes, but it is pretty much essential for my success this semester. Therefore I have already met with two of them and to my surprise, both of them were rather understanding and open to helping. I think that when we are honest with ourselves, and able to be honest about ourselves with others, the world seems a little less scary and things seem to flow a little bit better.

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After last semester didn’t go as planned I knew I needed to find a way to get by. Part of the reason I think it was so rough was because while I knew there were things that needed attention and to be worked on, I wasn’t ok with being open and forward about them. I wasn’t ok with accepting that I still had a lot of self-work to do to get to a place where I am able to roll with the punches. I’m still not there, but accepting that is helpful beyond measure. Staying positive is the best method of action and helps keep your head in the game. The following quote is also helpful beyond measure.

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I’m being serious, coffee + rap = recipe for success. Give it a go. Let me know how it goes.

For me, right now I’m focused on living as normally as possible. I’m working to keep my cool even as my stress will undoubtedly increase as the semester continues onward. I have my strengths and I definitely have my weaknesses, but part of lifting myself up is accepting that having weaknesses isn’t a bad thing. I’m dedicating this period of the next few months to the pursuit of bettering myself, wherever that ends up taking me.

“You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want.” – S.E. Hinton

MIA and staying on the better path

Hi there! It’s been quite some time since I’ve been active on here. Over the past month I kept considering posting but choose not to do so ultimately because I wasn’t mentally there. It’s been a rough few months and admittedly I fell into the trap with my recovery of thinking I had been solid for over a year, and therefore I was “fine” and completely solid. Nope, cracks still exist.

Over the last bit I’ve been trying to accept that those cracks still exist and that I am not perfect in my recovery and that by trying to be so I will end up falling back rather than keeping going on the better path. Maybe I’ll always have those things that get me, and honestly after 10 years I probably will. Many times people think someone with a mental illness is good after treatment. That could not be further from the truth in most cases. Sure, they are better. Sure, they are functioning with society. But it’s still there. It’s called an illness for a reason. It doesn’t just magically go away.

I am a hell of a lot more aware of myself and my actions now than I ever have been in my life. I’m motivated. I’m hitting goals. I’m stronger mentally. I’m stronger physically. I’m stronger emotionally. BUT I still have cracks.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to re-focus myself and see that what I was doing was just spiraling me backwards. Maladaptive behaviors are my high. They are numbing. They make me not feel my feelings. They make every problem go away because I get so wrapped up and consumed inside myself. One thing that has taken me forever to take away from my experience is that living in that high isn’t living. It’s self-limiting. It’s dangerous. It’s not worth it. It’s the opposite of what I actually truly want to be doing.

That’s why it’s referred to as an addiction. It is.

But breaking that? breaking those habits. breaking the cycle… that is living. That is pursing life and goals and hope and healing. It’s better. It’s life.

Right now I’m extremely focused on filling those cracks. I’m not trying to make them go away, I know they will always be with me, but I’m trying to bury them deeper. At this point in my life I am actively letting go of my past because it no longer serves me anything but instead I now see it’s hurting me more than I ever was aware of.

Right now, I’m focusing on just living. After all, it’s life.

Being committed to recovery means that

If there was one single tidbit of advice (ok, two) that I could give out to those struggling with an eating disorder pursing their recovery it would be… that recovery is being committed to yourself, to the pursuit of your health (mental, emotional, physical), to overcoming those demons and striving to thrive in life rather than destroy yourself. Second, you’re not a failure if you go backwards and you’re not a failure if you don’t go backwards.

When I was in treatment a few years ago the hardest part for me at first was committing to myself. Sure I was the one who made the phone call, I drove down by myself for my intake, I went to all the meetings and necessary steps to get into the program. But at that point I wasn’t fully there. I knew it was what I needed, but not fully what I wanted. It was what was going to hopefully save my life, but I needed to commit myself to doing so. While I was going to have the support, that support would mean nothing more than guidance and short term love if I weren’t able to continue on with the process afterwards and always. I think recovery is a life long process. Treatment, therapy, groups, support networks, ect. – they teach the necessary tools for self-care, respect, and healing. But they don’t do the work. Only when the person who is struggling is ready at the level where they can commit themselves to the pursuit of healing and self-care can the fullest recovery process begin to unfold.

It’s tricky. I’m not going to short-hand that and say that this process is easy by any means. It’s the hardest thing I ever did and continue to do. I cannot even begin to express the variations of recovery I have seen and I think that is an extremely important point as well – everyone’s version of full recovery is different. By the books I’m recovered. However, I don’t really tend to associate with that, I say I’m in remission. For me that’s what works. I think finding that way, whatever it is, to keep yourself on the good road is what ultimately counts rather than throwing a label on it.

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Another really big hurdle for me was one I hit once I was full heartedly sure that I wanted recovery for myself… keeping that mindset. Keeping that focus, that drive; the relentless desire to heal. Writing down a list of what being committed to my recovery meant for me helped a lot in staying on a positive road. Here’s what worked for me, maybe it’ll work for you or someone you know who is struggling, maybe it won’t. That’s ok.

  • Tuning in and listening to what my body tells me.
  • Accepting where I am, and accepting where I want to go.
  • Knowing that having temptations, urges, and triggers is normal. Realizing that I don’t have to give in to them. Accepting that if I do, it’s not an end all be all. It’s a stepping stone.
  • Remembering to always ask for help when needed, it isn’t a sign of weakness rather a sign of strength. To know that you need help shows strength and courage. It’s hard, but it’s something everyone needs at some point or another in life.
  • I will place my health and my wellbeing first. After all, I’m my number one. In the end, it’s me for me. This is the only body and the only life I will be given, it’s my duty to honor both of those.
  • That I will get enough sleep. Trust me, it helps.
  • That while I may want to [inert negative behavior here], I will try my hardest to not. Whether this means reaching out, journaling, taking a walk, ect.
  • Being completely honest with my support system. It’s for the best, no matter what. This was hard for me in the beginning. I didn’t want to be completely vulnerable. I held stuff back. I wanted things to seem better than they were. What really helped me though was when I just “gave in” and made myself an open book so to speak.
  • Doing everything in my power to take care of my body in terms of both physical and mental health. This may include:
    • seeking a treatment program, therapist, nutritionist, group-therapy, ect.
    • yoga
    • meditation
    • journaling
    • practicing mindfulness
    • spending quality time with friends and/or family

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There are so many more things I could list, endless really. Those are the main points which helped me on my journey to reach a place where I am thriving, living my life, and loving all that I’m doing. I want any of you who are going through this process to know that you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you. You will achieve recovery if that is what you want. You don’t need to want it at first, I don’t think that’s essential. I think knowing you need it is. Wanting comes after. It’s that whole pre-contemplation –> contemplation –> action concept.

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.” – Nathan W. Morris

XO, S