To live in the past can be depressing; to lust for the future can be anxiety producing. Living in the present, however, should be peaceful. Living in peace is imperative for our mental health, yet so many things can interrupt our peace; grieving over a lost loved one or battling with life’s stressors in general. With finding inner-peace being so vital to our overall health, we must employ a series of coping skills to aid in the process of discovering the best way for each one of us to do so. Coping skills should center on three basic principles: (i) Prayer, (ii) Patience, and (iii) Persistence.
Anything that brings on stress sets up the body for disease. Learning to relieve stress is a major key for dealing with the various aspects of life, including our careers, families, educations, and relationships. As we know by now, life has ups and downs, but the art of coping can ease the tension within our minds and bodies and generate positive vibes within our spirits.
In the world of mental health, coping skills must be implemented in our daily lives without exception. Coping skills help relieve the tension within our minds. Whether it’s anger, depression, anxiety, and mixed emotions, taking time out for one’s self can help get back into a positive groove. Implementing coping skills in our daily lives allows us to have a successful self-care tactic each day.
One coping skill common in therapy is the use of music therapy. The renaissance movement is back, baby. It’s time to get groovy with it, electric sliding right into positivity like Kool And the Gang and learn to be the light of the world. Listening to music at nighttime is a particularly proactive tactic for the subconscious mind. Though the subconscious is mostly working while we are asleep, it stores some of our stressors, triggers, and unwanted emotions; the subconscious is also considered the memory bank of the mind. It recalls all those harsh events, words, and situations that we may have encountered throughout our lives. Soft music helps to ease the tension that could create those thriller nightmares, and nobody has time for that. If we are trying to shake and bake the next day, we have to marinate the night before with a peaceful evening.
Another coping skill that helps with stress relief is art. Edgar Allen Poe once said, “it is happiness to wonder; it is happiness to dream.” Drawing, painting, or coloring a sandy island canvas with palm trees swaying in the breeze can relieve the tension and allow us to be more creative. Creativity is intelligence while having fun. If it’s not fun, then it must be boring and nobody’s got time for all that either. With so many thoughts, emotions, and feelings, art can allow one to express their self in a positive and creative way. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times, the age-old adage, “I’m not artistic.” The truth is, if you believe you are, then you are. The first step is belief; the next is to stop at your local shop for some art supplies, and the rest is history. Our reality is what we create. That makes each one of us an artist by default. We are the artist of our own lives. Although we cannot control every situation, we can try to make the best out of life itself by simply creating. Incorporating positive coping skills in our lives keeps us cool when life heats up. Take time out for yourself to release the negative energy within your mind and channel it into something positive.
Dealing with emotions such as grief can make you feel like you are living in slow motion. While experiencing the spirals that we go through, it’s imperative to continue to breathe life into our lungs by getting out and giving our time and love to others. Volunteering, coaching, becoming apart of and connected to a positive movement, can bring a sense of healing that helps to cope with grief. Emptiness is a common characteristic in dealing with grief, so engaging in activities that help others can, in turn, help with self-fulfillment. Things like feeding the homeless and volunteering at shelters can help circulate more positivity in one’s life. These activities give validation to the sayings we’ve all heard; give, and you shall receive, and what goes around comes around. So, give out your heart to something positive while not expecting anything back, and blessings could come back around via a selfless act. When one gives their time and attention to others, it allows us to gain new experiences and drift away temporarily from our everyday reality. Giving allows self-fulfillment to flow into our hearts, making us feel a sense of self-worth and importance within our society. We are all connected in some way, shape, or form;it’s just a matter of action to make your role within your community one of importance and positivity.
“You cannot heal where you got sick” is a quote that comes to mind when the time comes that we may drift away during traumatic events we have experienced in our lives. Sometimes it’s just time to take a trip out of the city, state, or nation. Whether it’s three days in Puerto Rico or a night out of town, it can do wonders for our state of mind that has been stressed by an environment. Getting away can do just that for our minds, stepping away from our daily routine for a moment might be all that is necessary for self-rejuvenation.
Another common coping skill that is beneficial for the building blocks of our mind is reading situations correctly. Reading is fundamental, meaning it is one of the many important building blocks of life. Just think of all the things one must read in life. You have to read and evaluate yourself (spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally) for a balanced lifestyle. One has to read and evaluate others’ energy that comes into their domain. One may have to read the anxiety and or anger level of someone who may try to bring us harm unintentionally or intentionally. You must also read the signs from above if one believes in God, the Universe, or whatever one’s faith dictates. One has to read the energy of their kid’s friends to see if they have the child’s best interest at heart. One has to read non-verbals of people to help with communication barriers. Building protection before the storm hits can be proactive against future endeavors that we may encounter that cause us stress.
Circling back to the subconscious; which is where most of our stressors affect us, positive affirmations are a coping tactic that allows oneself to consciously create positivity within our minds. We have to create a healthy self and speaking positivity to ourselves is essential for many different reasons. Within our subconscious,we may still hear the voice of some insecure bully in grade school that said something negative about our mother, father, clothes, or some other unique characteristic we possess. That one bully may have effectively sowed a seed of doubt or frustration into our subconscious. It doesn’t even have to be a bully; perhaps it’s an ex-boyfriend/ girlfriend who didn’t seem to consider your feelings at some point. Regardless of the origin,telling yourself positive affirmations such as I am loved, I am healthy, and I have happiness in my life are all ways of feeding our minds the emotional calories that are necessary to elevate to higher vibrations. The ear is the most valuable instrument on our body. Whatever is going into our ear affects our mental health, particularly within our subconscious mind.
Nature is one of the medicines that can help with our everyday life. The sun beaming down gives us that source of energy that is not only essential for a good tan but also helpful for our overall health. Now, we don’t want to sit out and fry like Cousin Pete’s burnt hot dogs at the family reunion but getting some moderate sunlight beaming into the house or outside on our skin can help warm us up to the core, giving us a healthy soul glow. The wind as it breeze’s around us swiftly can fill our lungs with that good and natural medicine that we need to keep our minds at ease and relaxed from the pressures of stress.
Coping skills are just that; they help us cope with the many things that we are going through. It may not drop us off the bill money, but it allows us to be more relaxed when we are stressed doing our jobs or other activities and handling various responsibilities. Coping skills date back as far as the Egyptian period, where there is evidence of Yoga therapy inscribed on the walls and of some of the artifacts.
Zen is the new wave for this upcoming generation, which is driven by technology and other sources that stimulate our minds. It’s imperative that we become more aware of our mind, our triggers and stressors that can lead to negative mental conditions, and once again, we don’t have time for all that. Being proactive rather than reactive is important in maintaining a balanced mindset while coping with reality and maintaining our light in the world. As the old African proverb states, “if there is no enemy within, then the enemy on the outside can do us no harm,” so keep that mind so fresh and so clean. Until next time…
Peace and blessings,
By: Darren Burrell, M.A., Mental Health Counseling, Intrust Therapist since 2016