The Coping Kete

Monthly Archives: September 2012

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No. 114: List Poems

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

…I will spend 10 – 15 minutes every day writing a list poem about the things I have seen, done and felt that day. Each evening, I will sit down with a notebook and write a list of five things I saw that day, five things I did that day and five things I felt or thought. I will try to make each item on each list different. Then I will rearrange or join the items on my lists into a poem. I might add words and images or change things in my lists as well.

In this way I will practice regularly reflecting on my daily experience and finding a creative way to express it. While I am thinking of the words to use and working on rearranging the lines, I might get a bit of time out from worrying about things. If I get distracted by concerns of the day I will work them into the list and return my focus to the creative task at hand.  By working to include a number of different experiences in the list I will practice having an expansive awareness of my day without letting one experience override everything I have been aware of.

If I felt like it, I could share my poems with someone else as a way to connect with support and encouragement, but they are really something that I will do just for myself.

Once I am comfortable making list poems about a typical day, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for distracting myself from the moment and creatively expressing myself in times of stress and distress.

Example list poem. 

28/09/2012

The aluminium sky
the neighbour’s stray cat
my own reflection in the window
outside the path littered with petals
the wind-blown tree.

I have typed so many messages
dressed myself to match
bought new socks and worn them
cooked hot food and eaten it
peeled an orange and given you half.
My small victories. 

I was caring about everything
sadness for all the news
I thought I saw you flinch when I said that
worrying over the day’s mathematics
joy in the act of nurturing something.

 – M. Barr

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.