The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Resilience Building

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. 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. 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.

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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. 101: Stretching Distraction

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

…I will practice stretching to distract myself from the present moment and lift my energy.

Once a day I will spend a few minutes doing some basic yoga stretches. As I do them I will practice mindfully focusing my attention on the movements I am making and the way they feel in my body. I will practice letting thoughts of the day pass through my mind as I observe them and bring my mind back to my stretches.

  1. Neck Roll: Standing up, relax your shoulders, drop your head forward to rest your chin on your chest. Slowly roll your head to rest your right ear on your right shoulder, pause, return to centre then slowly roll your head to rest your left ear on your left shoulder, pause, return to centre. Repeat.
  2. Shoulder and Arm Rotation: Stretch your arms out to the side and imagine you are pushing apart two walls. Repeat three times. Keeping the arms at shoulder level, rotate the shoulders forwards and then backwards. Repeat three times. Slowly drop arms to the side and observe the sensation produced in your body.
  3. Swaying Tree pose: Standing with your feet at hip-width, reach your arms above your head, clasp your hands together, exhale and lean gently to the left. Inhale and come back to centre. Then exhale and lean to the right. Repeat.
  4. Cat Pose: Kneel on all fours with hands shoulder distance apart and your knees the same distance apart. Exhale while arching your back up and looking down at your belly. Hold for a few seconds. Inhale as you arch your back down and lift your head.

Once I am familiar with doing stretches as part of my ordinary day, I will add them to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of distracting myself from distressing moments and times of stress and tension. When I notice I am feeling tense, I can take myself away from present company for a moment and practice my stretches. 

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.

No. 89: Draw an Object

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

… I will practice drawing objects around me as a way of refocusing my attention away from unhelpful thoughts and giving myself a break.

If I notice myself getting stressed or distressed I will take a couple of moments to sketch an object in my immediate surroundings. It could be a pen on my desk or a plant on the windowsill or anything at all. I can draw it any way I want and it doesn’t matter whether my drawing even looks like the object at all. The point is to focus my attention on something else for a while.

I could also just spend some time each day drawing as a way to get some down-time.

In preparation I’ll make sure I have a notebook and a pencil on hand.

Once I am familiar with drawing objects in my surroundings as a way of capturing my attention, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for mindfully distracting myself from distress.