Melissa’s Rap: Sometimes life throws us curveballs. Sometimes it feels like those curveballs are coming at us 90mph, one after the other and we can’t seem to stop them. We all cope with these curveballs differently. You may lock yourself in your bedroom with a bottle of wine and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Someone else may binge watch eight shows on Netflix and refuse to answer any messages. Another person might pick up a bat and take those curveballs on to the best of their ability. Me? I go one of two ways: anxious manic doer or utterly useless sloth. Either I go into action and basically stop sleeping, or I become completely useless and choose something similar to option A or B above. Neither of which is really healthy or effective.
As I’ve gotten older, though, I have learned something. I have to do the work to tackle those curveballs and that means different things depending on the situation. But one thing is for sure… I have to implement some key coping methods to get me through it. You’ve likely read some of these suggestions before, but I want you to consider: have you actually tried them? I mean, have you actually put them into practice and consistently maintained them for an extended period of time? I have been through some traumatic things, and I can tell you that through most of them, self-care seemed like a foreign language to me. Below are some suggestions that I have put into practice more recently and have benefited from tremendously.
Get in Therapy
I am a firm believer that everyone should see a mental health counselor as much as they see their primary doctor, or even more often. It is important to have a safe space to share what you are going through. And talking things through is one of the best ways to cope – or at least learn to cope – with what is happening to you. My kids and I are all in therapy and it is one of the best choices I’ve ever made for our well-being. Do your research and find a therapist who can help you with your specific goals and challenges. It may take a few tries to find a good fit. Don’t get discouraged. You are worth it. Do this for yourself.
Get on the Mat
Whether you have done yoga or not, the power of yoga to reduce stress and help you maneuver through your toughest days is undeniable. Get your mat out and leave it out. Even if you just sit on it for ten minutes a day, it will be time well spent. You can sit with your breathing, chant (or hum) or do a gentle practice. All of these are powerful ways to keep positive energy flowing through your body when negative situations and feelings are dominating your life.
Check out our Yoga for Stress Relief post for some great suggestions to get you started.
Dance it Out
If you’ve ever seen Grey’s Anatomy, you know that when times get tough, the stars of the show dance it out. Wherever they are, they get their groove on. Dance is such a powerful expression, but it is also aerobic, which gets your blood pumping and your lungs working. It can reduce stress and improve your mood. I was self-conscious doing this in the beginning, but now I just crank up the music and go. Dancing can be incredibly therapeutic and help you to cope with what life throws you on the dance floor called “life”. Try it. Put on some of your favorite tunes and dance your heart out.
Get Lost in Someone Else’s Story
Sometimes you just want to forget about your struggles for an hour or two. The best way I have found to do this is to get lost in someone else’s story. Whether it be a book or a movie or by helping someone else who is going through their own challenge, creating space between you and the matter that has been consuming you is healing in itself. That time and space allows you some peace, and often some perspective once you return to reality and the situation at hand.
Allow Yourself to Feel
A wise friend once taught me that avoiding feelings about things can be unhealthy and counterproductive. I have been through a lot medically and I had gotten to the point where I was kind of numb to it, just trying to get on the other side of each new obstacle. By suppressing emotions and not allowing myself to truly see and feel how it was impacting me was my way of coping, but it wasn’t necessarily the best way to deal with those situations. Burying my head in the sand and not coming out until it was over prohibited me from truly experiencing some pretty significant life events. Being open to what is happening allows me to not only fully appreciate its impact, but allows me to grow from it. So, get on that rollercoaster and ride it to the end. It might be terrifying at times, but it will be worth the ride.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Slow down and enjoy the little things. Take a walk and enjoy the sights and sounds. Spend time on the floor playing with your child and remembering what it was like to play with such innocence and carefree passion for life (and LEGO’s). Spend a few minutes just savoring your morning coffee and looking out the window at the neighborhood coming to life. Find several moments throughout your day (and they truly can be little moments) to stop and smell some of the flowers in your life.
Ask for what you need. Be specific.
Listen. It takes a village. If you don’t have one, start building it – one friend, family member, therapist, work peer, and kind person you just met at the grocery store at a time. We all need support sometimes. It is OK to ask for what you need. When you do, be respectful, be kind and be gracious. But, most of all, be specific. Let them know exactly what you need and when you need it.
Asking for help is hard. And I will admit this is not one of my strong points. I do not like to inconvenience people and I am a pretty strong and independent soul. But, life has consistently, again and again and again, put me in a spot where I had to ask. I resist it every time. So much so that a dear friend suggested that perhaps that is something I am here to learn. Guess what? Those friends and family members and random strangers at the grocery store – they want to help. They love to help. Sometimes they are even offended if you refuse their help. ASK. The worst they could say is no. And the only thing that does is leave you right where you were to begin with; no worse for wear. My friend, ask for what you need. You may just get it.
You are worth it.
One thing is for sure, life will challenge us. It will challenge us when we least expect it. Sometimes, it will challenge us when we are already down and don’t know how we will get back up. I like to believe it is challenging us to be great. It changes my perspective when I am down and feeling a little battle-worn and unsure I even really want to get back up again. But, deep down, I know I am worth it. I am worth the fight and the struggle and enduring (and experiencing) the pain so that I can get to the other side of it, stronger and greater than I was before. You are worth it too. And you will get through whatever challenges you face. But, you need to do the work and you need to care for yourself throughout it. Find what coping methods work for you and implement them consistently. Pick yourself up when you fall down. Ask for help if you can’t seem to do it on your own. Take time for yourself to process and grow from the experience. You are worth it, my friend. Don’t ever forget that.
What are your favorite coping methods? Have you tried one of the methods listed in this post? How did it work for you? Comment below or message us here.