Coping strategies and other positive outlets are significant tools that can provide you a smooth recovery as you guide your way out of a tricky situation. These tools are important to have because they allow you to clear your head of any tension or racing thoughts and focus your time on something that makes you happy, and that is helping your mental state as well. In my life, I have struggled, yet continued to fight depression. For over a year, stress and anxiety were a part of my everyday life.
Though it took time to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I was also able to use that time to discover my control over my thoughts I had not believed I had, and other positive directions my thoughts could lead me to. Though my mind was always spinning, I was also able to have some of the best realizations towards my recovery. The outlets/activities that I discovered in helping me succeed are still a part of my life today. I want to share 3 of my self-care strategies with you. The ideas were gained from therapy, quotes, and my active imagination.
Recovery doesn’t always require rules. Everyone is different. Be creative, discover (or remember) your inner joy, and find strategies that work for you.
Here are 3 self-care activities I created to lead myself towards a better place.
Feelings vs. Self Worth Jars
I have a bad habit of attaching my feelings to my self worth. If I am feeling anxious, I think “I’m wimpy” or “I’m pathetic.” I became eager to change that when I saw this quote:
“It’s important to keep your feelings and your self worth in different places because when feelings get hurt it shouldn’t change how you view yourself”
I knew that there was a small chance that reading a quote, or finding a quote, would fix my problem. I wanted to create something with a 3D perspective that I would be able to access when I am defining myself by my feelings. The idea had clicked in my head like a light bulb and I drove to the nearest Walmart.
You will need:
- 2 mason jars
- Colored construction paper
- Sharpie markers
- Sticker alphabet letters
- Cut small squares (big enough to write on in sharpie) for each of the jars
Jar 1: Feelings: Label the first jar as ‘Feelings’. Fill this jar up with names of feelings and how they make you feel.
Examples: wimpy, pathetic, stupid, loser, etc (qualities that your feelings make you believe in yourself, but aren’t facts.)
Jar 2: Self Worth: Label the second jar as ‘Self Worth’. Fill this jar up with anything that is a fact of something positive about yourself.
Examples: a challenge you overcame, something you did that made you proud, a talent/skill you possess, things about yourself you are thankful for, positive qualities (nice person, funny, friends, etc)
With both jars you can physically see that your feelings are not related to who you are. Customize them as you wish. The self worth jar should be used the most. When you doubt yourself, you have a jar of reminders to turn to.
2. A Gratitude Journal
Days go by way too fast and we can be so focused on “what’s next” that we do not give ourselves time to reflect upon or appreciate our day. This is where a gratitude journal comes in handy. You can use it to note down the happenings of the day focusing on the ones that you are grateful for. Anything from a Word document, Pinterest board, notebook, personal journal can be used as a gratitude journal.
I have been through rough patches where I found difficulty in seeing the good in every day. For me, I used my private blog at the time to title the date and every day I would make a bullet point list of things I was grateful for that day.
I noticed that some days the list was longer than others. Some days I would only have 1 thing on my list. That is okay, because it is proof there is something good in every day, only sometimes you have to look a little harder to find it.
3. An Emergency Self Care Kit
For crisis moments and when you just need a pick-me-up you can create a self care kit.
Find a creative way to put all of the things that make you happy in one place. Have that place to turn to when you desperately need it the most.
I have 2 Emergency Care Kit’s for myself. One, again, is in a blog post because I am a writer, and the other is in a Pinterest board.
Examples: In my blog post I have a list of things that make me happy.
- Screenshotted text messages I received that made me smile.
- Funny pictures/videos that never fail to have me crack a smile.
- Happy pictures of myself as a little kid. (Reminder of the innocence that is within me, and a time where everything was simple and exciting)
My private Pinterest board is also just filled with things that make me smile, laugh, and quotes that remind me that pain is temporary and it will be okay.
All of these things may sound a little cheesy. They are all things that I used personally to help myself. You do not have to share your coping methods with anyone else, that is why they are YOURS. I am sharing with you examples because if they helped me, they may help someone else.
You are really providing self-love for yourself if you are prepared with things to turn to when you aren’t feeling like yourself, or if you are searching for more ways to live a happy life.