The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Connection

No. 145: Look For Movement

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

… I will practice taking a break from thinking and focusing on something relaxing to improve the moment.

This week, when I notice myself caught up in my thoughts, I will pause and mindfully look around me or out the window at all that is moving. For just a minute or two, I will mindfully breathe and notice all that is moving in the space where I am and, if I am indoors, all that is moving outside my space, through the window.

As I stand or sit, I will simply observe the movements of the things around me. When I notice my mind wandering back to my thoughts of the future, I will congratulate myself for being mindful of my thoughts and turn my attention back to noticing the movement of the things around me – the direction the grass is blowing in, the way the flowers in the garden throw their heads around, the way the trees move, the laundry on the washing line and how it all moves together.

After a minute or two, I will return to my day and what I was doing.

Once I am comfortable interrupting a thought and making myself mindful of the movement around me, I will add ‘Look for Movement’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of giving myself space when I am distressed. If I can give myself space when I am feeling stressed or distressed, I will give my mind and body time to rest and make it easier for me to face the things that are tough. If I can give myself space before I react to my distressing feelings, I might react in a different way that has more helpful consequences for me in the long-run.

This week’s Coping Kete strategy comes from a member of the public who attended The Butterfly Diaries launch on the 13th of October and decorated the launch tent with a strategy that helps them feel better when things are tough.

 

The Butterfly says: “I Take a break from thinking sometimes and go outside and notice how everything is moving in the wind.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Acknowledgement: Mindfulness can be traced back to buddhist philosophy. Thich Naht Hanh is known for creating the Engaged Buddhism movement  and popularising mindfulness in the Western world. Jon Kabbat-Zinn is known for popularising mindfulness in the medical community with the Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) programme at the University of Massachusetts. Marsha Linehan is known for popularising mindfulness in the mental health community with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).  The basic practice of mindfulness features in many strategies shared in The Coping Kete. Once you learn the basic skills, you can use mindfulness in any moment you find yourself in, in countless different ways. There is an awful lot behind each of the skills involved. Follow the links above to learn more. 

No. 141: Observe My Physical Connection to the Moment

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

…I will, practice grounding myself in the physical moment as a way of changing my experiences. This week, I will interrupt myself once a day, place both feet flat on the ground and take a few deep breaths into the bottom of my lungs (see belly breathing exercise here). As I breathe, I will focus my attention onto the sensation of my feet connecting with the ground. I will look around me and notice the other sensations I feel as my body connects with the environment around me – the air on my skin, the temperature of the light. After a few moments, breathing slowly and noticing my connection to the space around me, I will turn my attention back to my day.

I might set an alarm on my phone to help remind me to practice turning my attention away from one thing and onto my connection with the physical environment around me in this specific moment. In this way, I will get skilled at letting go of one moment and shifting my attention to something calm and grounding.

When I’m familiar with interrupting an ordinary moment to ground myself in the space around me, I will add the strategy to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping during times of stress and distress. When I notice myself becoming upset or focused on unhelpful thoughts, I will be able to take some time out to calm my distress before returning to what needs my attention next. The breathing will help me to soothe my physical responses while being mindful of my physical space will distract me from unwanted or unhelpful thoughts.

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Acknowledgement: Mindfulness can be traced back to buddhist philosophy. Thich Naht Hanh is known for creating the Engaged Buddhism movement  and popularising mindfulness in the Western world. Jon Kabbat-Zinn is known for popularising mindfulness in the medical community with the Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) programme at the University of Massachusetts. Marsha Linehan is known for popularising mindfulness in the mental health community with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).  The basic practice of mindfulness features in many strategies shared in The Coping Kete. Once you learn the basic skills, you can use mindfulness in any moment you find yourself in, in countless different ways. There is an awful lot behind each of the skills involved. Follow the links above to learn more. 

No. 130: New Descriptions Exercise

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

…I will try experimenting with new ways of describing things. This might help me be able to express myself when I find I want to talk to someone else. But for this week, I’m just going to do it for myself. Once a day, maybe at lunch or before bed, I’ll sit down and do a word-play exercise.

In one column I will write a list of words that are nouns (names of things e.g. sadness, tree, people, day). Beside it, I will make a second column of words that are verbs (action/doing words, e.g. walks, dip, stumble, fall). Then I will mix the two colums together with joining words (‘like’, ‘and’, ‘of’, ‘but’) to make new descriptions of things. Finally, if I want, I will put them all together into a poem.

For example, using the words above… 

Sadness walks

like trees dip

and people stumble

but only

the day

falls over

the edge

~ ~ ~

I could do this with as many or as few words as I want. The point is to spend a bit of time playing around with expression each day.

Once I am a bit used to playing around with words, I will add the ‘New Descriptions Exercise’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of distracting myself from the present and expressing myself in moments of stress and distress. This way I can stop chasing my distressing thoughts and turn my attention to the simple task of listing words and turning them into whatever I can. It might even help me find new ways of looking at things as I go.

No. 128: Ask Someone to Listen

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

…I will practice expressing myself and getting support by telling someone I trust that I’d like someone to talk to and asking them if they can listen. This is something we pretty much all need to do when the going gets tough, but which can be really hard to do if we are distressed and out of practice. This week, at the end of each day, I will call or visit someone and ask them if they can lend me an ear so I can get some of the day’s stress off my chest. Then I’ll tell them a bit about my day and anything stressful that has stuck with me. By checking in with them about their day as well, I’ll be able to help them leave the conversation feeling listened to as well. This might bring us closer.  Sometimes it can help to let people know what we are up to – I might even tell some of my friends that I am practicing asking for help and talking about my problems and that they might hear from me as I go.

Once I am comfortable asking someone to listen, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping in times of distress. I will be used to talking to people about small stresses and I will be used to reaching out, so it will be easier to do.

No. 125: Connect with Being Part of a Community

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

…I will practice connecting with the community around me. This week, as I move through each day, I will practice belonging to my community and letting my community belonging to me. We so often live right next to each other for years, without ever stopping to say ‘hey how is it going?’ to each other and the world can become a lonely, anonymous place at times.

This week, I will say hello to the shop-keepers and checkout operators and stop to pass the time of day. I will introduce myself to my neighbours if I don’t know them and pause to chat when I see them.   I will take part in any free, public events and projects like music in parks, open mic nights, art exhibitions or tree planting working bees. I will walk around my community and appreciate the spaces around me. I will take the time to ask people about themselves and what they do, whenever I have a chance so I can learn about the people around me.

All the while I will remind myself that I am part of a wider community and the wider community is part of me. When I am bored or at a loose end, I will do something to connect with being part of that community. This week I practice getting to know my community and letting my community get to know me.

After engaging with my community for a while, I will be well prepared to self-soothe and distract myself from negative thoughts and feelings when the going gets tough. The experience of connection will be like ammo when I find myself feeling disconnected or lonely. Connecting with my community may help me practice expressing myself to others and build a wider support network of people I could turn to in a rough spot.

When I am familiar with doing things that connect me to my community, I will add ‘Connect with Being Part of a Community’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of shifting my mood during times of stress and distress. If I am feeling down, I will be able to turn to one of my familiar community connection strategies to distract myself. Doing things that connect me with my community might also help to self-soothe some things too, especially if I’ve been feeling isolated. When I notice my self-talk seems lonely, I will remind myself of my previous experiences of being connected to self-soothe and I will try to put some of my previous activities into action.

 

No. 121: Mindfulness Walks

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

… I will practice using mindfulness walks to shift my mood. I will start by scheduling in at least ten minutes to go for a walk outside everyday. While I walk I will focus my attention on the current moment, in which I am walking and looking around me and really noticing what is there. I will also notice myself and how my body feels to be moving around in the world. When I notice thoughts about the day returning to my mind, I will observe my thoughts briefly and then come back to being aware of my current environment and what is around me.

Across the week, I might experiment with walking in different places. The environment I walk in might change the way I respond. For example, walking in the city streets might connect me with the bustle of people living their lives and walking in the park might connect me with nature. This week I will try to be aware of how different environments effect me. I will then be able to use this information to make sure I give myself time in the environments that soothe and calm me on a regular basis.

Once I am comfortable going for a walk and tuning into my surroundings on a regular basis, I will add ‘Go For a Mindfulness Walk’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for dealing with stress and distress. When I notice I am feeling distressed, I will be able to use the strategy to shift myself out of the distressing moment for a little while and possibly return with a fresh perspective.

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Acknowledgement: Mindfulness can be traced back to buddhist philosophy. Thich Naht Hanh is known for creating the Engaged Buddhism movement  and popularising mindfulness in the Western world. Jon Kabbat-Zinn is known for popularising mindfulness in the medical community with the Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) programme at the University of Massachusetts. Marsha Linehan is known for popularising mindfulness in the mental health community with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).  The basic practice of mindfulness features in many strategies shared in The Coping Kete. Once you learn the basic skills, you can use mindfulness in any moment you find yourself in, in countless different ways. There is an awful lot behind each of the skills involved. Follow the links above to learn more. 

No. 119: Talk About Solutions

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

…I will practice positive communication as a way of expressing myself. This week, I will practice talking to people about solutions, rather than identifying things I am unhappy about. Whenever I feel like complaining or raising an issue with someone, I will practice flipping it on its head and talking about what I want to see instead. For example, instead of saying “I don’t like it when you spill food on the carpet,” this week I would say “I’d really like you to have a plate.”

First off, I will need to take a moment to think about what I would like to see in the situation so I can express it to those around me. I’ll use simple, positive language to let the people around me know what I want to happen. In this way, throughout the week I will get used to identifying solutions to problems and negative feelings and expressing them to the people around me.

Once I am comfortable talking about solutions to everyday problems to the people around me, I will add the strategy to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of dealing with distressing situations with other people. If I find myself upset or stressed about something, I will be able to think about the possible solutions to the problems and talk to the person about those solutions and how we could put them into action together.

No. 115: Noticing My Small Contributions to Others

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

… I will actively recall times I have been kind, giving or friendly towards other people and practice noticing the good bits about myself. Each morning or the night before I will jot down a few times I can remember myself being good to others, they could be recent, historical or a mix of both. Then I will practice reminding myself of these small contributions to others throughout the day.

As I move through the day during the week,  I will take moments to pause and mentally run through my list of past examples as a reminder of my good intentions and value to those around me. This week, I will practice noticing the positive effects I have on others and in so doing, I will practice building my sense of self-worth and valuing even my smallest contributions.

If I notice my mind wandering onto times when I have not had a positive effect on others, I will notice those thoughts and compassionately bring my mind back to the exercise of recalling interactions in which I have been kind, caring, friendly, supportive or helpful to another person. I am more than my mistakes. 

Once I am familiar with the task of remembering and noticing my past and current positive contributions on a daily basis, I will add this to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing strategy for times of distress when I notice I am devaluing myself and my place in my community.

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. 106: Lean on Someone

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

…I will practice leaning on the people around me when things start to feel a little stressful. Leaning on the people around me means that this week, I will share what I am going through with the people around me and accept their offers of help.  If people ask me how they can help, I will practice letting them know. So often, we turn down help because we think we ‘should’ be able to take care of everything on our own. This week, I will practice turning to the people around me for help, even with smaller stressors.  As I move through the week, I will note who seems to respond to well to my sharing and who responds less well. This will allow me to figure out the best people to go to for help later. If I notice there aren’t many people in my life who respond well, I might turn my attention to an engagement strategy for building some connections with some more supportive people.

When I am familiar with letting people know I am finding something hard and accepting their help with everyday kinds of things, I will add ‘Lean on Someone’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for getting through times of intense distress. I might keep a list of good people to contact in my Kete too.