I spend the majority of my day talking with children, young adults, and parents about coping skills. This is typical for a clinical social worker. After all, everyone experiences stress, sadness, irritability, or discomfort, and even the best therapist in the world can’t make that stuff go away. What we can do is help others to develop healthy and reliable coping skills.
A few days ago, I woke up feeling extremely cranky. The night before, I’d lost my temper and spent the evening using my angry mommy voice with my toddler, and I was feeling sad and frustrated about that. And then, there was all that other stuff that’s been challenging lately – lack of exercise, which leaves me feeling antsy and sluggish, and lack of sleep, which leaves me feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
There I was, sitting at my desk at work, thinking: How am I going to get through today? And that’s what got me thinking: what are MY coping skills? What tools do I rely on to get me through a crummy day?
It took me longer than I would have guessed to come up with any – but, y’know, it’s hard to identify your coping skills when you’re right in the middle of an angry/cranky/tired day!
These are the skills I came up with:
Text frantically with Tamara, my sister, or a friend.
Drink a delicious latte. (Yay Starbucks! The gingerbread latte has been lifting my spirits this winter.
Write it out. Drafting a blog post is a really good for me; it helps me to clear my mind and to recenter myself.
Buy something on Amazon. No one said these were good coping skills.
Start a brand-new journal. Even if you have to irresponsibly buy a new one when you don’t need it.
Check out a thousand books from the library. This is a slight exaggeration – but only slight. I think borrowing library books enables me to ‘buy’ a bunch of books without spending any money. It also feels luxurious to borrow 20 or 30 books, even knowing that I won’t be able to read them all.
That’s all I’ve got for the moment, and I’m not really happy with the list. Ideally, it would include a few more uber-healthy, easy, and free coping skills. Like a little meditation – a time for just being, for utilizing a mindfulness tool in the moment. Another coping skill could be silence – just spending a few minutes in the quiet, breathing in and out. But that’s not a habit I’ve been able to cultivate thus far in 2019, or throughout my life overall.
Progress, not perfection. Onward!