Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Coping: a case study


Through my work over the last few years, I have been confronted with the issue of coping, both that of others as well as my own. 

To be clear, I don't have a theoretical background in this area. Instead, my practical experience relates primarily to coping with caregiving, bereavement and medical crises. However, coping also relates to many other situations, such as: disaster, relationships, depression, abuse, PTSD and change. Not surprisingly, coping looks like many different things, varying greatly depending on the stressor, the individual and the individual's state in a given moment.

I certainly haven't mastered the skill, but I've become more aware of some of my coping mechanisms (and hopefully embrace them more readily):

faith - My faith is the most important part of my life and therefore, also, my coping. During a particularly hard time, I remember reading A Path Through Suffering on repeat, finishing it and immediately starting again at the beginning.

books - Speaking of reading, sometimes the very act can help me clear my mud-mind and take the next step. Recently, I found myself pacing through the apartment, too angry to do anything other than wander around with an exclamation thought bubble hovering over my head. Then, my eyes fell on the poetry collection on my nightstand. Just reading one passage helped distract and steady me enough to begin troubleshooting. 

home - Left to my own devices, I would probably spend all day puttering around at home. I embody the word "homebody" not as a preference but as a need. As an introvert living in an extrovert's world, I need the space to re-collect the energy required to navigate the challenges of daily living.

exercise - Partially, I started running because I wanted to be a runner, but I also started running as an outlet for the nervous energy and/or restless mind that anxiety sometimes generates.

emotion - Tears can facilitate my coping. Crying acknowledges the grief I am feeling instead of suppressing it, Once I've admitted that the sadness exists, I can address it. Though sometimes just exposing it to the light gives me the ability to move forward instead of being weighed down by the sorrow.  


Question - How do you cope? 




15 comments:

  1. Mudmind -- I like that term! I've never heard anyone use it before but it's just perfect. Running is a great coping mechanism for me, too. What else... sleep (I'm usually lacking it when I'm having trouble dealing with stuff) and doing some kind of craft project (helps clear my mind of other things and gives me a sense of accomplishment).

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    1. You know, I think sometimes cooking is to me what crafting is to you. You can get lost in the physical process and have a fun result at the end. :) And sleep. Yes. Goodness, yes.

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  2. A very thoughtful post that will be useful to many as you remind them of coping mechanisms and have them consider their own. Sometimes, when we need coping strategies the most. is when we are least likely to remember them. That's why it is good to think about them out of the crisis. I used to carry a laminated card that I made in my purse with phrases for my positive self-talk when I started to ruminate on something that was bothering me.

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    1. Something I've been reminding myself of a lot recently is that 'I can only control what I do, not what other people do.' It helps me break cycles of unproductive frustration... sometimes. :)

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  3. So interesting that you posted this today. I will be going to a funeral today for a friend's father who died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She and I have been there for each other during different health crises for our parents but neither of us has had to deal with the death of a parent before.

    I think you have a great list up there--Sarah and L&L also have good thoughts. I would add that talking with friends helps me cope. Last year when my mom went through breast cancer, knitting was a very meditative activity for me and helped me through; music, especially singing, can be a coping method for me as well. What I found interesting last year was that repetitive activities--knitting, biking, walking--seemed to help my mind slow down enough to actually think through my stress and to focus my mind a little bit more.

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    1. I am so very sorry to hear about your friend's father. There are no words of condolence great enough.

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    2. Thank you, Marilyn. It was a sad funeral ... but still one with hope.

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  4. Coping, hmm, I don't know. I'm pretty good at denial. And procrastination. I suppose running helps some. Running serves as an excellent means of appearing to have accomplished a great feat without actually having to do anything more than put one foot in front of the other a few thousand times.

    Mark

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    1. Ha! I usually go through a couple of rounds of denial and procrastination before the running. :)

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    2. For me running is procrastination sometimes. It's easier than writing, job hunting, home repair, getting the kids to clean up their toys, and many, many other tasks.

      Right now I should be e-mailing LISHost about registering a domain name and renting server space!
      Mark

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  5. Oh, and laundry. Doing laundry is an excellent method of procrastination. The washing machine and dryer do most of the work, and you can watch a movie while folding clothes, Guilt free TV!

    Mark

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    1. I definitely enjoy laundry-induced, guilt-free TV watching. It's practically the only time I watch TV anymore.

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  6. For me it's distraction. Anything I can do to immerse my attention elsewhere. Photography is a good one for me. I grab my camera and literally focus on pretty or interesting things. I love your post today.

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    1. Photography really refocuses my attention as well. It makes me think about things like light, composition, color, etc. There are so many things to consider, all of which provide their own bit of pleasure.

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