The Coping Kete

Category Archives: Engagement

No. 113: Time to Think

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I will give myself a little while to think each day. I will plan a 15 minute slot of time into each of my days, to allow myself time to simply think. Life can get so busy and the tasks of daily living can become so much the focus that we don’t get time to actively make sense of what we go through each day, whether it is enjoyable or distressing or a mixture of both.

First, I will sit down with my schedule and plan in each of my 15-minute spots – they could be at the same, regular time each day or just whenever I can fit them in.

Then for the rest of the week, no matter how I feel, I will sit down at my scheduled time to think each day. I will consider this my own private “defrag” time – a moment to organise my mental files of the day and figure them out.

I might think things through better when I have a pen and paper to jot things down or I might just think to myself silently. For 15 minutes I will cast my mind over my day and my responses and let the things I need to sort out, rise to the surface. I will think about resolving problems that have arisen, talking to a supporter about things I have found upsetting, giving myself comfort for the things that have been hard and congratulating myself for the things I have survived and done well with. In this way, each day, I will spend a moment in which my automatic thoughts and feelings are able to rise to the surface where I can be aware of them and do something to about them if I wish. This week, I will make sure life slows down for 15-minutes a day to allow me to process my experiences and make sense of where I am at. This could help prevent me from getting overwhelmed by things, especially when life gets really busy.

Once I am comfortable taking 15 minutes to think on a regular basis, I will add ‘Time to Think’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for coping with stress and distress. When I find my thoughts are getting repeatedly stuck on something negative or find myself constantly trying ‘not to think about it’, I will use this strategy to insert a moment in each day when I give myself permission to think about what my daily life is throwing at me lately and how I might shift the unwanted elements of my experience. When I find myself thinking unwanted thoughts during my day, I will mindfully notice the thoughts and remind myself to think about them later when I get my ‘time to think.’ I will then be able to turn my attention to something in my present moment, with the knowledge that I will think about it later.

No. 112: Build My Willpower Muscles

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness…

…I will practice changing my automatic responses by working on doing small, unimportant things differently on a daily basis.

I will first choose something really basic like doing something different from my norm when I arrive home each day or trying to always lift my coffee mug with the opposite hand. Then as I move through my week, I will practice checking myself and switching my cup to the other hand. I will practice being understanding with my self-talk when I forget to do the small thing differently or find it uncomfortable or difficult.

In this way I will slowly get used to seeing myself as someone who can do small things differently and use my willpower to resist a habit. This might help me to feel better about attempting to change something bigger and more important to me, such as reducing alcohol intake or changing my daily routine.

Once I am comfortable with interrupting a small habit and replacing it with something different, I will add ‘Use my Willpower Muscles’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for shifting my attention and energies to small habits and automatic responses that I am able to change. I might need to think a bit about what my automatic responses have been before I am able to choose one small thing to work on changing. I will remind myself of my previous experience with changing something small and how I was able to do it in the end.

No. 111: Make Someone a Card

This week, to attain, maintain, or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I will practice turning my attention to something positive by taking time in my week to make a card for someone I am grateful to for something and deliver or post it to them. I will schedule a time later in the week to make the card, so I have plenty of time to get organised. For the next little while, I will think over the people and things that I am grateful for until I think of a person I want to acknowledge and make a card for. It could be for something big, something small, something recent, or something from a long time ago.  It doesn’t really matter, but if this kind of thing makes me nervous, I could pick something small, like a recent favour from a friend. Once I have thought of someone, I will start getting ready to get creative.

I will want to find some card or paper to make it out of and design my own image for the front – I could draw something or cut pictures out of magazines or print something off a computer – but I won’t buy the card, this week’s strategy is also about using my creativity.  Finally, I will write a short thank-you message on the inside, letting them know I appreciate what they have added to my life.  I might need to spend a little while drafting what I want to say on some scrap paper. No matter what is happening in my day this week, I will find time each day to think about or work on making my card to someone I am thankful for. It is much harder to do these things when we feel low, so I might do it in little bursts, bringing my attention mindfully back to the card and where I am up to with it, whenever I am able. 

This week, I am practicing the art of emphasising the good stuff. It’s not a skill that comes naturally to all of us, and modern life isn’t set up to help us remember to notice and highlight the things we are grateful for.

Making a thank-you card means I will practice turning my attention towards positive memories as well as get a chance to practice letting myself be creative. By sending the card, I am learning another way of sending positive vibes out into the lives of others. These are all things I could feel good about.

Once I have gotten comfortable being aware of the things I am grateful for and making a card for someone at any old time, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of balancing my attention when life seems to be throwing all the hard stuff my way. When I notice I am finding things distressing on a regular basis, I will spend some time thinking of things I am grateful for, making a card to acknowledge one, and sending it to the person. Each time I notice myself getting pessimistic, I will bring my thoughts back to my card and the meaning behind it to help balance my thoughts and remember that it isn’t all bad, all the time.

No. 109: Create Something Simple to Have Faith in

This week, in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice coping with uncertainty by creating a simple vision for the future that I can have faith in achieving and then reminding myself of it on a regular basis.

First of all, I will think of the simple things I would like to see in my future. I will make sure I think of positive and realistic things, that I could have faith in achieving or maintaining if I put my mind to it. I could list things like being close to my family, a safe place to live, regular healthy meals or a daily routine I enjoy.

Second, I will visualise or imagine what a day would look and feel like in that future. I will try my best to bring a realistic and detailed picture of it into my mind, from waking up in the morning to going to bed at night.

Finally, I will write down all of the things I imagined I did and experienced as part of that day.

As I move through my week, I will regularly bring my mind back to that simple vision of my future and remind myself that no matter where I am now, my vision of the future is where I will one day be. If I find this hard, I might set an alarm on my phone to remind me to spend a moment visualising it.

Whenever I can, I will mindfully do what I imagined I would do in the course of a day in my vision of the future.  In this way, I really can have faith that I will gradually get there and I will give myself small bits of evidence that helps me have hope every day.

When I am familiar with creating a simple vision and visualising it throughout the day, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for self-soothing and engagement in times of stress, distress or mental unwellness. When I am finding it hard to have hope, I will focus my attention on creating something I can have hope in.

By spending time visualising a positive picture of my future and reminding myself of the small things I can do to achieve it, I can actively balance any worried thoughts I might be having about how things are going to turn out and leave room for the possibility that everything will turn out okay in the end.

No. 105: Sharing the Little Positives

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice sharing my successes, achievements and moments of enjoyment with other people. At the end of every day this week, I will contact someone I know to talk about one positive moment from my day.

If I find it hard to notice positive things I might carry a notebook in my pocket so I can write them down when they happen or simply jot them down at the end of the day in preparation of my call or conversation.

If I find it hard to talk to people about positive things I have experienced, it might help to make a list of people I can call. It may also help to think of some things I can ask the people I talk to so my sharing does not come out of the blue and the conversation doesn’t become one-sided.

This week, I will practice celebrating my achievements and sharing my good moments, however small they may be, with the people in my life. In doing so, I will practice making the small positives of life stand out from the mix of more difficult daily experiences. As a regular practice, this may help me to have balanced attention that takes both the good and the bad information on board.

In regularly talking to the people I know about my positive experiences, I will create relationships in my life that give me the chance to also talk about the difficult things I go through as well.

Once I have gotten used to sharing my achievements and positive moments, I will add ‘Connect to Share the Little Positives’ to my Personal Coping Kete. In moments when the negatives seem overwhelming, I will contact someone to share some of the positives in my life. When I feel bad about myself and am finding it hard to feel better, I can get in touch with one of my people for some support to remember my positives. Sometimes it really helps to get a reminder about those things from someone other than ourselves!

No. 104: Connecting with Interests & Skills

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

I will practice connecting with my interests and developing my skills by joining some kind of community course. Most community centres offer cheap community classes on topics ranging from cooking and clothing alterations to ballroom dancing, yoga and martial arts.

This week I will spend time exploring my options and finding a first class to try. It could take a few tries before I find a class that suits me. I will use my local telephone directory, The Community Resources Directory, web searches and local noticeboards to get a picture of what is available in my community. I might also talk to the people around me about what is out there and whether they recommend anything.

As I move through my day I will remember that I am exploring my interests and am well on my way along the path towards a more enjoyable life. Any points of dissatisfaction are simply the areas that are still works in progress.

It might be hard for me to get myself along so I might ask a friend, family member or other supporter if they want to come with me. That might also be a nice way to strengthen a relationship I have been wanting to build.

Once I have found a hobby-course that I enjoy and I have become familiar with the activity I have been learning, I will add the activity to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of engaging with my skills and interests to shift my mood when I am distressed.

* * *

Today’s post marks two full years of The Coping Kete in its online form.

The Coping Kete book is coming soon.  

No. 98: Just One Pleasurable Thing

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I will purposefully do one pleasurable thing every day.

From the list of 113 activities below, I will choose one different pleasurable thing that I can do each day and plan which day I will do them. Each time I put one of the activities into practice, I will acknowledge my accomplishment, however small. I will observe how I felt before, during and after the activity to help myself become aware of what kinds of things lift my mood more than others.

It can be hard to start doing pleasurable things if we have been down or disconnected for a while. So I might plan small steps to begin with and scale back the length of time I plan on doing each activity for – e.g. it might be easier to start with attempting a 5-minute activity than an hour-long one. The goal for this week is to start by doing just trying one thing each day, regardless of how I feel. If the idea of every day is hard, I’ll just do one or two days. It doesn’t even need to work, the point is just to practice doing it and get used to doing it. If it’s unfamiliar, it probably won’t start being enjoyable until I’m used to doing it.

Once I am comfortable doing pleasurable things every day. I will add ‘Just One Pleasurable Thing’ to my Personal Coping Kete along with a short list of some of my favourite things. Then, in moments of stress and distress, I will try doing just one pleasurable thing to shift the way I am feeling in the moment. It’s good to have a mini-list there because it can be ultra hard to think of pleasurable things to do when we are in a bad space.

113 Pleasurable Activities 

  1. Soaking in the bathtub
  2. Planning my career
  3. Collecting things (coins, shells, etc.)
  4. Recycling old items
  5. Going to a movie
  6. Jogging, walking
  7. Thinking I have done a full day’s work
  8. Lying in the sun
  9. Planning a career change
  10. Listening to others
  11. Reading magazines or newspapers
  12. Hobbies (stamp collecting, model building, etc.)
  13. Spending an evening with good friends
  14. Planning a day’s activities
  15. Meeting new people
  16. Remembering beautiful scenery
  17. Going to the gym, doing aerobics
  18. Thinking how it will be when I finish school
  19. Getting out of debt/paying debts
  20. Practising karate, judo, yoga
  21. Repairing things around the house
  22. Working on my car (bicycle)
  23. Remembering the words and deeds of loving people
  24. Having quiet evenings
  25. Taking care of my plants
  26. Going swimming
  27. Doodling
  28. Exercising
  29. Collecting old things
  30. Going to a party
  31. Playing golf
  32. Playing soccer
  33. Flying kites
  34. Having discussions with friends
  35. Having family get-togethers
  36. Going camping
  37. Singing around the house
  38. Arranging flowers
  39. Going to church, praying (practising religion)
  40. Going to the beach
  41. Thinking I’m an OK person
  42. A day with nothing to do
  43. Going ice skating, roller skating/blading
  44. Sketching, painting
  45. Doing embroidery, cross stitching
  46. Going birdwatching
  47. Singing with groups
  48. Playing musical instruments
  49. Doing arts and crafts
  50. Making a gift for someone
  51. Buying CDs, tapes, records
  52. Watching boxing, wrestling
  53. Planning parties
  54. Cooking, baking
  55. Going hiking, bush walking
  56. Writing books (poems, articles)
  57. Going out to dinner
  58. Discussing books
  59. Sightseeing
  60. Early morning coffee and newspaper
  61. Playing tennis
  62. Watching my children (play)
  63. Going to plays and concerts
  64. Catch up with an old friend
  65. Daydreaming
  66. Watching videos or DVDs
  67. Going bike riding
  68. Completing a task
  69. Thinking about my achievements
  70. Eating gooey, fattening foods
  71. Photography
  72. Star gazing
  73. Reading fiction
  74. Being alone
  75. Writing diary/journal entries or letters
  76. Cleaning
  77. Reading non-fiction
  78. Dancing
  79. Thinking “I did that pretty well” after doing something
  80. Meditating
  81. Having lunch with a friend
  82. Going to the hills
  83. Playing cards
  84. Having a political discussion
  85. Solving riddles/puzzles
  86. Seeing and/or showing photos or slides
  87. Knitting/crocheting/quilting
  88. Shooting pool/Playing billiards
  89. Dressing up and looking nice
  90. Reflecting on how I’ve improved
  91. Talking on the phone
  92. Going to museums, art galleries
  93. Lighting candles
  94. Having coffee at a cafe
  95. Getting/giving a massage
  96. Saying “I love you”
  97. Thinking about my good qualities
  98. Having a spa, or sauna
  99. Going skiing
  100. Going canoeing or white-water rafting
  101. Going bowling
  102. Doing woodworking
  103. Fantasising about the future
  104. Doing ballet, jazz/tap dancing
  105. Debating
  106. Having an aquarium
  107. Going horseback riding
  108. Going rock climbing
  109. Thinking about becoming active in the community
  110. Making jigsaw puzzles
  111. Playing with my pets
  112. Having a barbecue
  113. Rearranging the furniture in my house

These activities were taken from a longer list by an unknown author found in this great online article by Elisha Goldstein, which also happens to have some excellent tips on putting pleasurable activities into action when they feel like the last things we want to do.

No. 97: ABC Thought Catching

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice engaging with my thoughts and how they are affecting my mood by practicing thought-catching. Being able to catch my thoughts and follow their connection to my moods is a key step towards being able to reason myself out of stress and distress when I need to. Taking a moment to be aware of the core components of my experience will help me be able to respond with awareness.

This week, whenever I notice a slight drop in my mood, I will take a moment to ask myself what just happened (A), what it did to my mood (C) and what I might have been telling myself about whatever happened to cause that mood change (B).  It is not easy to notice our own thoughts, which is why I will start out by trying to catch thoughts associated with minor changes in mood. Once I’m comfortable with that, I will move on to using thought-catching as an engagement strategy in times of stress and distress.

It is often helpful at first to use a pen and paper to note these things down in three columns.

(A) Activating event: What just happened?

(B) Thoughts / Self Talk: What might I have told myself about that?

(C) Mood Change: What happened to my mood?

In this way, I will start to build up a picture of the kinds of thoughts that make my moods swing, and the kinds of situations that trigger those thoughts. This will prepare me to be able to recognise and catch those thoughts later when they are fueling my distress.

Once I have gotten good at making myself aware of what my thoughts are, I will add thought-catching to my Personal Coping Kete. In times of stress and distress, I will be able to practice catching my thoughts and observing to myself what triggered them and how the thoughts made me feel. By engaging with my thoughts and emotions before I respond, I will be better prepared to soothe, express, distract myself from or get support with them.

No. 92: The Art of Appreciation #1

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

I will practice tuning my attention into positively charged events every day by writing down three things I appreciate, enjoy or am glad to see in the world.  Later, when I need to self-soothe, I will find it easier to balance negative automatic thoughts or expectations about the world around me.

During the day I will try to notice things as they happen and note them to myself for later. I might have to go searching for things to record for a while – it is quite an art to see the good stuff sometimes! Each evening I will write down the date and the list of three things for that day.

Once I have been doing it for a while and have a good list, when I find myself feeling negative about the world around me I will be able to read through the list and balance it out with some of the things I appreciate and feel good about. As I read the list, I will remember to myself what it was about each thing that I liked, what I saw in it. Eventually I’ll get good at just remembering these positive balancing points by themselves.

When times are tough I will be able to shine the light of my attention onto a bit proof that it’s not all bad out there. I let the wanted and unwanted parts of the world exist side by side without letting one cancel the other out.

If/when I find a good way to make this work for me, I will note a reminder down about it on a piece of paper and add it to my Personal Coping Kete. 

No. 91: Building Support by Offering Support

This week, to attain, regain or maintain my sense of wellbeing…

…I will focus on building or strengthening my support network. It’s not uncommon to become isolated during times of stress and distress. It is easy to lose touch with friends and family members. This week I will write down the name(s) of 1 – 5 people that I could connect or reconnect with. There could be a colleague at work or someone interesting at school or an aunt or cousin or sibling or old friend that I would like to be closer to.

I will then practice getting in touch with the people on my list once a week to find out how they are doing and see if I can help with anything at all. By offering support I will find it easier to ask for support later when I need it. This week is about expressing my care for others to strengthen my relationships for the times when things get tough and I need a little care and support myself.

Once I have figured out how to make this a comfortable thing for me to do, I will write it down on a piece of paper and put it in my Personal Coping Kete as a support activity.