I have spent most of my life in some form of therapy, and I am a MASTER of coping skills. I have lists of tips for every trigger and every self-destructive urge —but after my accident, I noticed that some of my tried-and-true coping mechanisms were not possible in my new physical condition. Since then, I have noticed the same problem on lists circulating on-line. So, I decided to write my own!
These suggestions are from a variety of lists found in my personal collection, the Dialectical Behavior Therapy manual, and on-line. Most of the things included I have actually tried and found effective myself.
I have broken them down into 3 categories: Pain, Anxiety, and Depression. The “Pain” list is designed for flare days. It holds the least physically-intensive ideas, things that can be done while completely bed-ridden, and ideas that can actually help reduce pain (or at least distract you from it).
- Deep breathing exercises (inhale 5 seconds, hold 5 seconds, and exhale 5 seconds- carefully.)
- Draw, paint, or color. (a tablet, Magna-doodle or even Etch-a-Sketch would work if you don’t want to use paper and crayons.)
- Blow bubbles.
- Pet a dog/cat/furry creature.
- Turn on (or off) all of the lights.
- Sit outside or under a sunny-lamp, even just for a few moments.
- Sip a warm drink.
- Use this “video” to doodle with your mouse. Try it! Trust me!
- Watch funny Youtube videos.
- Read. (keep it light, easy to understand, and uplifting)
- Contact a friend.
- Stretch or do gentle yoga. (Don’t push. Be very careful. Know your limits.)
- Immerse yourself in a computer or video game. Use headphones if possible.
- Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel without judgment; observe and describe. (example: I feel angry. My feet hurt. I am frustrated. I feel sad. I wish I were healthier. My pain is at an 8. I feel upset. - notice the thoughts/feelings and let them pass. Don’t fixate, justify, or analyze. )
- Write a list of things you are looking forward to, things you are grateful for, or things you are proud of.
- Do progressive muscle relaxation.
- Trace a maze or mandala,with your fingers(or even just your eyes).
- Make yourself as comfortable as possible. (sit on pillows, cover yourself in blankets, change positions, etc.)
- Put together a puzzle.
- Hold ice, splash your face with cold water, or go outside in the rain or snow. (be safe, don’t prolong exposure- only long enough for a sensation to “shock” your system.)
- Clean or organize a space. (even a digital space, if you can’t physically clean!)
- MOVE. However you can- from crinkling your face muscles to doing jumping jacks. Just MOVE.
- Drink herbal tea or decaf coffee.
- Practice progressive relaxation.
- Write positive quotes or words on flashcards.
- Get outside, even just for a moment.
- Do gentle yoga or simple stretches. (see pain list for link and cautions)
- DISTRACT. Any way you can: TV, YouTube, Tumblr, read, write, play word games, play a game, etc.
- Throw balled-up socks at a blank wall.
- Scream into a pillow.
- Take pictures.
- Browse on-line stores. Window shop or put together a “Wish List”.
- Count. Backwards from 100, forward in 7’s, backward in 2’s, 1-10 getting gradually louder, etc.
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor or press your hands on your seat cushion. Ground yourself.
- Think of 3 household objects for every letter of the alphabet.
- Shred blank paper.
- Play with silly putty or play dough.
- Pop bubble wrap.
- Learn to swear in another language.
- Comb your hair, paint your nails, or wash your face. (performing a simple grooming task can significantly boost your mood).
- Pet a cat/dog/furry creature. If possible, visit a shelter.
- Write a thank-you note to someone you appreciate, or leave a NICE anonymous message online.
- Make and listen to a playlist of happy and upbeat music.
- Browse photos of fun memories and people you love.
- Write a list of things you are grateful for, things you are proud of, things you love, or things you are capable of.
- Rub lotion onto your arms or legs, mindfully and gently.
- Draw random designs and color them in.
- Take a warm bath, shower, or rub a warm, damp, towel over your skin.
- Do something productive. Cross something off your to-do list! (organize files on your computer, clean a room, do a homework assignment, cook a meal, return a call, etc.)
- Write (or add to) your “Bucket” list! (keep it fun and upbeat)
- Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, without judgment. Laugh, cry, scream, etc.
- Observe and describe your feelings. (see pain list for details)
- Treat yourself. Eat something decadent, watch your favorite show, indulge in something!
- Make a mental list of 5 things you see, hear, and feel. Then list 4, then 3, then 2, then 1.
- Call a hotline. (International, USA) They will let you talk. They will NOT call 911 unless you say you are in immediate danger. I have used this option many times and I recommend it.
- Contact a friend or family member.Let me know if you have any ideas to add, and I will make a follow-up post!Take care of yourselves.