The Coping Kete

Monthly Archives: August 2010

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No. 9 – A Body of Strengths

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

I will remind myself of my strengths regularly throughout my day. If I find this difficult to do off the top of my head, I will prepare a written list in advance that I can pull from pocket or bag and read.  I will add to this list as time goes on and I get better at identifying the positive attributes, qualities and skills that I possess.  If I am unsure of my strengths and skills, I will ask people who know me to have a think about it and get back to me with what they think my positive qualities are.

Once I am used to thinking about my positive qualities a bit, I will add ‘Remember I am a Body of Strengths’ to my Personal Coping Kete.

By thinking about my strengths during moments of stress and distress, I will work to balance my thoughts, emotions and physical responses. Whenever I notice that my self-talk is full of put-downs, self-directed insults or pessimistic expectations I will start listing in my head the strengths and skills that I have shown in the past.

It can help to do a few diaphragmatic breaths first, especially if you are really distressed. See Week 6 for instructions on how to learn diaphragmatic breathing.  Once you’ve learned it, it’s a great complement to most strategies.

www.engagenz.co.nz/wordpress/?tag=breathing-exercises

No. 8 – Supportive Self-Talk

This week in order to attain, maintain or regain wellness…

I will practice giving myself encouragement when I notice shifts in my mood or energy level, as I would encourage a dearly loved friend, who I truly believed in, “it’ll be okay, you can handle this.

By speaking to myself with respect, support and reassurance, I will practice valuing and nurturing myself.

In the moment, I will be providing myself with the possibility that things could turn out as I would like and reminding myself of the probability that whatever happens, I will be able to get through it.

Once I am comfortable with encouraging myself through smaller moments of pressure, I will add ‘Supportive Self-Talk’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing strategy in times of stress and distress as a reminder to talk myself through the tough stuff too.

No. 7 – Letting My Surroundings In

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

I will practice using mindful awareness to silently observe and describe my surroundings to myself in neutral and accepting terms.

I will start out by describing the elements of the situation or my thoughts that I find distressing.

Then I will observe and describe other elements of my immediate environment to yourself.

I will try to ensure my body posture and eye gaze allow for me to take in my surroundings – I will sit/stand up straight and open my posture, look around me and widen my focus. We so often turn ourselves into closed systems when we are distressed.

I will simply observe and describe, but try not to make judgements about my observations.

When I notice that I have made a judgement, I will observe and describe it to myself and then turn my attention back to something around me.

When I am comfortable observing my surroundings and bringing my thoughts back to that task, I will add ‘Mindfully Observing my Surroundings’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a distraction strategy for moments of distress.

No. 6 – Practicing Proper Belly Breathing

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

Spend 1 minute doing diaphragmatic breathing every morning.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a standard relaxation/breathing exercise where you:

  • Place one hand flat on your stomach and one on your chest.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose (or pursed lips). With each in-breath, push your belly out and imagine pulling the air into the bottom of your belly.
  • As you breathe in watch your hands; the hand on your belly should rise more than the hand on your chest.
  • Pause briefly.
  • Breathe out slowly through pursed lips (as if silently whistling).
    • Your out-breath should be 2 times longer than your in-breath – though that is something to aim for over time.
  • Pause briefly.
  • Breathe in again and continue with the pattern of slow deep breaths in and slow, relaxed breaths out for 3-5 minutes.  It might help you to do a count for each breath in and out (e.g. 2 seconds in and 4 seconds out).
  • You can do this without the hands if you wish, but it can help to ground things and focus on the out breath.

This exercise takes practice before it is useful.  If I get hungry for air, I can try yawning or opening my mouth wide to relieve the sensation; it happens because the body is used to another breathing pattern and this is new.

Breathing is a way to control heart-rate and racing thoughts, reducing anxiety and panic and getting some space between feeling and responding.

Once I have become comfortable doing the breathing exercise every day, I will add ‘Standard Belly Breathing Relaxation’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing or distraction strategy in times of stress or distress.