Positive Coping Strategies for Enduring Distress

While building strong self-care habits is important for long-term or overall mental wellness, they don’t happen overnight, and sometimes you need strategies that can be implemented right now. When we are in moments of distress, emotions and panic have a tendency to take over. In these moments, it’s helpful to acknowledge the feelings and then turn to coping skills—the strategies we use to deal with stressors and difficult situations.

 

Below are a few categories and examples of positive coping skills; use them to inspire you to recognize effective coping strategies that you may employ for yourself during times of distress.

 

Self-Soothing

Comfort your senses with things that are calming, pleasant, or simply appealing to you.

  • Find something that’s soft to the touch or has a texture that brings you joy. Hold it and feel it in your hands or on your body. For example, your favorite blanket, a treasured stuffed animal, cool stones, or even trinkets that remind you of a fond memory.
  • Put on some good music. You could even make playlists for various moods so you have music ready to go. If you’re a musician yourself, play something. Listen to guided meditations, like this Black Lives Matter Meditation for Healing Racial Trauma. Find a podcast that is uplifting or soothing to you.
  • Eat something yummy.
  • Look at some pretty artwork. Scroll through pictures of friends and loved ones. Keep a board of your favorite pictures on your wall. Save a small picture of something (or someone) cute or nice or lovely in your wallet.
  • Find a smell that’s calming and really notice it. Light some candles or burn some incense. Put on some fragrances you love.

Distractions

Take your mind away from the distress for the moment to save yourself from becoming overwhelmed.

  • Read a book.
  • Watch a movie or TV show you like.
  • Hang out with a friend.
  • Play a video game.
  • Clean or organize your environment.
  • Play with or care for an animal companion.
  • Exercise or play sports.

Opposite Impulse

Balance the inputs in your personal world by actively seeking something that fills an “opposite” emotion.

  • Watching funny videos. Like this one.
  • Reading affirmations.
  • Do something to help someone else.
  • Encourage others.
  • Make a gratitude list.

Emotional Awareness

Identify and externalize your feelings.

  • Write in your journal about what’s going on.
  • Express your emotions through art (visual, musical, crafting, etc).
  • Talk with someone you trust—a friend, a therapist, a family member.
  • Re-interrogate and manage your expectations of the situation.
  • Allow yourself space and time to cry, laugh, scream, or whatever you need.

Mindfulness

Accept and validate your feelings.

  • Meditate.
  • Practice breathing exercises.
  • Prioritize peacefulness and relaxation.
  • Acknowledge your feelings as “guests” in your house, and sit with them until they leave.
  • Take a shower, take a walk, or go for a drive.

Crisis Plan

Keep contact information for loved ones, support networks, and hotlines easily accessible.

  • Keep your friends on speed dial.
  • Look up local or national hotline services that are available to you. These may be phone, text, or chat services.

 

For many of these coping strategies, it may be particularly helpful to make some preparations ahead of time. Having encouraging reminders, positive affirmations, and fond pictures visible around the spaces you spend the most time in makes it easy to use them to ground yourself. Preparing playlists for different moods saves you from digging up the songs you want to hear in the moment. You could even put together a small “self-care first aid kit” with small bits from each strategy to keep in your room or even your bag; it could contain a small snack or candy you like, a scented item, positive affirmations, trinkets and reminders, pictures, etc.

 

If you are interested in building a coping skills firsr aid kit with allgo’s Health and Wellness program, join us on June 14th, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00 at allgo!

 

4 ways to bring wellness practices into everyday life

 

We live in a world that loves to talk about how to be “healthier” but, often times those conversations are surface level and to not take into account people’s actual lived experiences. As QPOC, we are often left out of conversations around wellness, and most articles or conversations do not take a realistic approach on how to match wellness practices with our everyday lives.

It can be difficult to start these conversations, so we have gathered here 4 things we can do to begin thinking about wellness. Hopefully, this can be a starting point for us to think about how to bring other wellness practices that work for us into our day to day life.

 

Make time to eat.

Life can get hectic and sometimes it’s hard to find the time, and for some, the motivation, to eat. Sometimes in the middle of a busy work day, or when studying for school, or trying to care for family or depression, it can feel too difficult or too much of a bother to take the time to just sit and eat, but this time is important. Sometimes just blocking out the time in your schedule, or setting aside a specific time in your day can help you remember to take the time to get food. Along with this is: make sure to drink enough water.

 

Coffee or Tea

There are pro and cons to both. Studies have shown that people who drink tea are at a significantly lower risk of stroke and heart disease. Both of which impact POC communities at a higher rate, with heart disease and stroke being the first and fourth, respectively,  leading causes of death for Black/African Americans and the second and fourth for Latinx/Hispanics in Travis County.  While coffee has been shown to slow down the onset of Parkinson’s, liver disease, and may prevent colon cancer from returning after treatment. The difference being: coffee has more caffeine and tends to be paired with more sugar and cream, which may offset any health benefits. Cutting out the additional sugar and milk can allow you to get those health benefits from coffee.

 

Process

Make sure to take the time to process your day. As QPOC we can, and do, encounter violence against us daily. It is important that we take the time to allow ourselves to process our day, whether it be through meditation, music, journal keeping, talking, or any way that works for you. By taking the time to process we allow ourselves the time to heal so that we do not take the negative with us into our personal relationships. It also allows us the time to process the good that happened to us that day, and raise those experiences in our hearts.

 

Sleep

Sleep can be complicated. One of the first things to be affected by depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as many other physical and mental statuses, is our sleep cycles. Depending on your age the suggested amount of sleep can change, with between 7-8 hours of sleep a night being the most common numbers people know, but for many people that can be difficult. Some people can require more sleep and others require less. Find what works for you, and talk with a local healer or provider if your sleep cycle isn’t working out for you, they may have recommendations or ways to assist.

 

These are just a few ways we can bring wellness into our everyday life. What about you? What ways to do bring wellness into your everyday life? Let us know in the comments below

4 Communication Habits for QPOC

Communication. It’s one of those words that people use so much it’s almost meaningless. Effective communication is seen as the solution for a variety of different problems. Having relationship trouble? Just communicate more/better. Trouble at work? Make sure you’re communicating with your supervisor and co-workers. But rarely do we ever consider what communication actually looks like, and even more rarely do we look at what communication looks like through the unique experiences of QPOC.

 

As QPOC, our voices should not be silenced and disregarded. We should be encouraged to communicate. Practicing healthy communication is one way to overcome the many isms of oppression exist as ways to keep us down and silent. Sometimes we can internalize these systems of oppression and carry them with us keeping us from expressing and living unburdened. Everyone should practice healthy communication, but it is especially important for our communities.

 

So what is communication? What does it look like? The simple answer is… it depends. Communication is different for every person, and it often looks different to the same person depending on the people and places around them. In order to begin a conversation around what communication looks like we’ve gathered a list of four habits we can build.

 

Listen

Often the most overlooked part of communication is listening. We can spend so much time thinking about what we are going to say, or how we are going to reply, that we never truly hear what the other person is saying. For some people, this can take extra work, especially for people with privilege, who are often told their voices and experiences matter more than others.

 

Listening isn’t just about hearing the words that someone is saying. It’s about working to understand what they are trying to convey to you through their words, through their tone, and through their body language.

Recognize that your voice and experience matter

We need only look at those who are raising their voices and experiences to see how powerful we are. From poets, singers, artists, musicians and more, QPOC have used their power to shape the world. When we take the time and work to value our own voices, we are not only better able to communicate with those around us, we are also taking steps on our continuous journey of self-love. Your voice matters, your experiences are important, and your emotions are valid. By recognizing this, we can begin to assert ourselves both within and outside of our communities and discover how powerful our voices can be.

 

Recognize what you are feeling and be honest with yourself

This can be hard to do at first. Often times one of the first steps to being able to meaningfully communicate with someone else is to look internally and recognize the thoughts and emotions that we are holding inside ourselves.

 

Many of us are raised and told that some things are ‘normal’ to want, think or feel, and when we differ from those things we can begin to feel shame about ourselves.We start trying to act in the way that’s expected and end up even more frustrated. It is when we know and are honest with ourselves that we can begin a path towards healing. By looking introspectively we can also begin to recognize when we are replicating systems of oppression in our own lives and when those oppressive systems have been internalized and are keeping us from sharing.

 

Know when it’s best to take time

Going hand in hand with recognizing your thoughts and feelings is knowing when to take a step back from a situation. Sometimes our reaction to pressure to communicate is to share our first response or thought. Often, the best thing we can do is to recognize when we need time to process before we can participate.

 

If you are interested in continuing this conversation, come out to our Fostering Community Through Better Communication discussion where we will talk more about these and other topics.