The fact that you have survived so far, to be sitting here reading this, means that you’ve already formed some ways of coping. Even if this current way of coping has its downsides like anxiety, isolation, addiction, or depression, you are here, alive. A part of your current way of coping is an attitude (even if out of your awareness) that persists to continue to live. Creating new ways of coping, or ‘creatively adjusting’ to our moment by moment present experiences, requires support, awareness, and a will to live spontaneously and adequately to the situations we find ourselves in. In this blog I will list 6 sources of support to help you cope better in your daily life:
- Our strengths may be easily forgotten when we become overwhelmed by our difficulties. Recognise what you are doing well. Of course, your distress is also there and valid. That distress (ex. Anxiety or addiction) might also be there to tell you that something needs to be healed. Recognizing your strengths may start to inspire you to feel more confident to dance with whatever the day will bring.
- Cultivate relationships with people who are good to you. If you find it difficult to maintain meaningful relationships, it may be time to have a look at the part you play in some pattern or dynamic that is repeated. This can be done with an attitude of curiosity which intends to heal (rather than with harsh self-criticism that hinders growth).
- Grounding exercises help stabilise us when we start feeling overwhelmed. There are various types of grounding exercises, some of which include mindful breathing while paying attention to your senses one by one (hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting), and feeling your own weight as you sit up straight. Holding your hand to your heart to feel yourself becoming more centered.
Find your own grounding technique that allows your own body to be an available source of energy and support.
- When it comes to taking care of our basic needs, nourishment (give your body the healthy food it needs), enough sleep, and regular physical exercise are essential.
- Remember your forgotten resources such as old hobbies or passions that you used to love doing, but now don’t have time for. It is time to rediscover those old pleasures or experiment with new ones.
- Building self-compassion, (especially if you harshly criticize yourself) is a gift you have the power to give yourself. Take a moment to think of someone you care about. Notice the feelings that come up for you when you think of how you care for them. Now, imagine them going through a similar experience to yours (for example, that they criticise themselves harshly), and think of what you would want to say to them from a place of kindness. Allow yourself to feel that kindness and compassion for your friend, and then explore how you can also allow yourself to feel that compassion for yourself.
I encourage you to put time and energy into finding your own unique style and set of resources to help reduce distress, to not only survive, but to feel that you are alive.
I believe it would do us well to keep revisiting, shaping, and practicing the use of these resources throughout our lifetime.
Amber Tabone practices Gestalt Psychotherapy with individuals and couples at Willingness. While currently reading for a Master’s in Psychotherapy, she has developed an interest in working with relationships, gender, and sexuality thanks to her experience with families and domestic violence issues.
Joyce, P., & Sills, C. (2001). Skills in Gestalt counselling & psychotherapy. London: SAGE.