The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Nurturing

No. 124: Satisfy My Basic Needs

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

… I will practice making sure I meet all of my basic needs for safety, shelter, nourishment and rest everyday. These needs are represented by the first two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see image below). Attending to my basic needs will set me up to be able to work towards satisfying my psychological and self-fulfillment needs.

I might need to spend some time planning towards this – a written schedule can be a big help. This week, instead of worrying about my higher-level needs for belonging, esteem and self-actualisation, I will return to the simple goals of meeting my most basic needs for survival. I will make this an act of self-care and self-respect, where I make my own physical wellbeing a priority.

This week, I will focus my attentions on the most basic of self-caring acts by making sure I eat regularly, drink enough water and get enough sleep. This will set me up to cope well with whatever stressors come my way and allow me to better work towards the higher-level needs that have more personal meaning. If I need help or cooperation from others to reach this goal, then I will talk to the people around me to express my needs and request their support. This might help me to work on fulfilling my psychological need for belonging – as working towards a common goal (such as satisfying our basic needs) can help people to connect with each other.

Sometimes giving ourselves a small goal to focus on can help soothe the pressure we feel to fulfill larger and more difficult goals. Making sure I give myself what I need to be physically healthy is also one way that I can work towards improving my sense of self-esteem or self-worth. This week I send myself messages that I deserve to look after myself.

Once I am familiar with creating a daily routine that meets all of my physical health needs for rest, warmth, food, shelter and movement, I will add ‘Satisfy My Basic Needs’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of shifting my mood in times of stress and distress. 

No. 116: A Moment for Self-Care

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

… I will practice using small moments of self-care to create positive experiences in my day. Self-care is the act of caring for myself by meeting my basic needs for food and water, movement, fresh air, sunlight, stillness, and physical care. I will spend some time every morning and evening focused on a self-care activity from one of these categories.

I will start out by making a list of activities I like for each kind of self-care first and then use my diary to plan which activities I will do each morning and night. I might even add to these categories if I want to, I could add ‘Connection’ or ‘Noise’ or any other kind of activity that I feel fits with my idea of what my ‘basic needs’ are.

For example

  • Food and water
    • Sit down and eat breakfast
    • Take time to prepare lunch
    • Make something really healthy for dinner
    • Eat a favourite food
    • Stop to drink a glass of water
  • Movement
    • Dance to music in my room
    • Go to a ‘No Lights No Lycra‘ event
    • Do some yoga stretches
    • Take mini-breaks to stroll round the room
  • Fresh air
    • Pause and do some belly-breathing
    • Stand outside and breathe deep for a moment
    • Pop my head out an open window
  • Sunlight
    • Read a book in the sun
    • Do some gardening
    • Eat lunch outside
  • Stillness
    • Go to bed early to read a book
    • Light some candles and listen to chill-out music
    • Paint something on that blank canvas I have sitting around
  • Physical care
    • Make one of the spaces in my house nice to be in
    • Cleanse and moisturise my face
    • Wash and brush my hair
    • Wear something that feels good to be in

As I do each activity I will focus all my attention on the task at hand, being aware as I go that I am making a simple gesture of caring to myself. As I move through the week, I will be mindful of how I am affected by my moments of self-care so I can tell which activities work to shift my mood and whether I want to adjust them at all.

Once I am comfortable purposefully doing self-care activities on a regular basis and have found some that boost my mood, I will add them to my Personal Coping Kete and use ‘A Moment of Self-Care’ as a way of nurturing and valuing myself during times of stress and distress.

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. 110: A Sense A Day

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

… I will use mindfulness of my senses to practice shifting my thoughts and improving the moment. This week, I will regularly tune my attention into one of my senses each day and deliberately plan activities that will allow me to indulge it a little. I will plan in advance which sense I will do each day, and then throughout that day I will make myself aware of that sense. The next day I will practice being aware of a different one of my five senses.

For example, on Monday I might pay particular attention to what I taste whenever I eat or drink, on Tuesday I might stop what I am doing for a moment throughout my day and pay attention to the different things I hear, on Wednesday I might practice being aware of the sensations I have when I touch things, on Thursday I might practice taking time to pay attention to the sights around me, on Friday I might practice taking time out to notice the smells around me. In this way, I will practice mindfully shifting my attention onto something different.

Once I am comfortable practicing mindfully shifting my attention like this, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of distracting myself from unhelpful thoughts when I am distressed or stressed.

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. 108: Hum Tiddely-Pom

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

… I will practice humming an upbeat tune to myself to help myself feel optimistic in moments of uncertainty.

It seems like such a little thing it couldn’t possibly help. But sometimes a simple thing like humming ‘tiddely-pom’ in a ‘what-shall-we-do-now kind of way’ can give a person just the kind of positive break they need before responding to something stressful or confusing.

This week, I’ll take a lesson from Winnie the Pooh and I will practice humming or singing ‘tiddely pom’ (or something like it) to myself in a ‘what-will-I-do-next kind of way  whenever I notice I am in an ‘in-between moment’ where I don’t know what I am going to do next.

Once I am used to doing this in the everyday in-between moments, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of giving myself space before I respond to things that are distressing or difficult. I could maybe even use it as a light-hearted way of opening up a line of communication around not being sure what to do next.

In those moments where I might usually start criticising myself for not knowing what to do, I will instead do something positive (humming), that still acknowledges the difficulty I am facing (not knowing what to do). I will notice whether it has any effect on my mood, the way I respond or those around me. Humming has been known to have physical effects on the body because it changes the way we breathe. It might even help change my mood that way.

Strategy 108 is inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh’s Little Book of Wisdom by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shephard. 

 

No. 107: Think of the Safer Alternatives

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

…I will practice harm minimisation as a way of responding to distress. As I move through my week, when I notice small changes in my mood or any self-destructive urges, I will practice thinking of the safest way of responding to the way I feel.

Where I might sometimes have the urge to do something to hurt myself to express the way I feel, this week, I will practice thinking about the less harmful alternatives.

When I notice my thinking or feelings heading in a self-destructive direction, I will ask myself “what would be the safest way of responding to this?”

For example, if I notice myself thinking about cutting myself to relieve my distress, I will think about some less harmful things that might give me the same release. In this way, I will nurture my wellbeing and treat myself with a bit more respect and kindness.

Using intense, but safe sensations is often really helpful. Some people find that holding a piece of ice or running a piece of sharp ice over their skin gives them an intense almost painful sensation that can replace the need to cut. Other people find snapping a rubber band on their wrist does the same thing. Yet other people find that running a red felt-tip pen over their arm gives them an intense visual picture that replaces the need to self-harm. Some people find them all helpful at different times. This week I will practice imagining doing these kinds of things rather than thinking about hurting myself.

This week, I will practice thinking about doing these kinds of things whenever I notice myself thinking about hurting myself. Once I have gotten used to thinking about these safer alternative ways of reacting to my distress, I will add ‘Think of a Safer Alternative’ and the strategies I thought of to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of responding when I feel the urge to hurt myself.

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.

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.

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

The Coping Kete book is coming soon.  

No 87: Being My Own Loving Parent

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

…I will practicing being my own unconditionally loving parent. When I find myself falling into self-critic mode, I will say comforting things to myself. I will encourage myself on. I will have compassion for what I am going through. I will praise my strengths and remember my victories. I will attend to my self-care needs and make sure I am alright. I might imagine my ideal kind of loving parent in advance so that I am prepared with the kinds of things I might say to myself if I get distressed.

This week, I take care of myself the way I want to be taken care of by others.

Once I am comfortable saying caring and encouraging things to myself in everyday moments, I will add this strategy to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of soothing distress. When I encounter stress or distress I will think about how I would want my ideal loving parent to respond to me and I will respond to myself that way.