The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Time-out

No. 20 – Fly Away

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

I will practice moving my attention away from current problems for a moment by visualising that I can fly. Once a day, I will practice visualising that my body has a sense of lightness about it, as if I can free myself from the constraints of gravity whenever I want.  I will imagine that I ‘take off’ from where I stand. I will visualise what my surroundings look like from above. I will soar higher up through the clouds and imagine what they feel like as I fly through them.  My clothes might get damp from the moisture held in the clouds but just before I get cold, I will break through to the sunshine above. I will let the warm sun soak into my skin as the light flows over my upturned face. There is no noise up there except for the sound of a soft wind. I know am completely safe and there is no way I can fall.  I am in control of where I go and how I move.  I fly around for a little while looking at things and then I gently float down to the ground.  I will bring this sense of freedom and lightness with me as I return to the current moment.

Throughout this exercise, I will keep my breathing deep and slow, as in the diaphragmatic breathing exercise.

Once I am familiar with using this visualisation to relax, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy to try soothing or distracting myself from distressing emotions. By turning my attention elsewhere for a moment, I will reduce the intensity of my emotional reaction and give myself space to make a considered response to whatever it is that I am dealing with or reinterpret things.

No 17. What Would Goofy Do?

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

I will practice taking some time out with a notebook and doing a writing exercise to cope with stress.  When I think I need a break from the moment, I will sit down with a notebook and choose a cartoon character.  I will imagine that this cartoon character is in my situation instead of me.  I will write for 5 minutes about how this character would view and react to the situation. It will distract me and maybe even give me a different perspective of things.

I will need to keep a notebook and pen or pencil in my bag or pocket for this one.

Once I am used to doing writing exercises when I am not particularly upset, I will add ‘What Would A Cartoon Character Do? Writing Exercise’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way to shift unwanted moods.

No. 15 – The Mini Self-Hug

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

I will practice using sensation to self-soothe and slow things down.  I will place my right palm on the front of my left shoulder, with my arm across the front of my body. I will feel the warmth of my hand soaking into my skin and muscles. I will notice the solidity of my arm cradling my body.  I will focus my thoughts on the sensations in my hand and shoulder and my arm across my chest.  I might gently stroke my shoulder to give myself comfort or press my palm into my shoulder.  I will take a few deep, relaxing breaths and let myself know that everything will be okay in the end.

This exercise is kind of like giving yourself a little nuturing mini-hug and it can be done anywhere, relatively inconspicuously.

Once I’m used to doing this regularly, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete to try during moments of stress and distress.

No. 12 – Power Ballads

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

I will spend 5 minutes every day singing along to music.  If I can’t find a CD or set of songs to play, I will sing old songs I know off by heart.  If I have time on my hands and am feeling anxious or stressed, I will pass some of the time by singing.  I can do this alone or with others.

Singing has real physical effects which you can use to your advantage.  Singing changes the way we are breathing and this alters the level of CO2 in our bloodstreams, which triggers the release of neurotransmitters and creates a sense of elation.  Depending on the song you are singing, it can also be a powerful form of  self-expression and sense of connection. Singing is a very good way of changing the moment for ourselves.

Once I’ve gotten used to spending some time singing, I will add ‘Power Ballads’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy to shift my mood when I am feeling distressed.

No. 11 – Float for a Moment

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

I will practice using visualisations to shift my moment. Each day I will take a minute to pay attention to taking deep, slow breaths while I briefly visualise myself floating on my back down a calm river.  The sun is shining, but not too hotly.  I am mindful of the way the sun feels on my closed eyelids and how the buoyant water feels flowing beneath me. I allow the river to take me where it will, sometimes moving faster and other times meandering slowly; I cannot push the water.

I will spend just a minute holding this image, and the sensations it brings, in my mind. If my attention drifts onto other things, I will mentally drop the worries in the river and watch them flow away.

I will then return to the situation at hand, with my centred and more accepting state of awareness. I will observe how I feel afterwards.

Once I am familiar with doing this visualisation to shift my attention, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of soothing or distracting myself from anxiety, anger or low moods.

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.

No. 1 – A Simple Exercise in Mindful Distraction

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

…I will practice politely excusing myself from any present company & take 2-5 minutes to give myself space by going outside & looking around me.

I will focus on the plant-life around me, the various movements, the way the light is falling & the different sensations I feel by slowly describing it all to myself.  I will return to this widened awareness throughout the day.

Once I am comfortable doing this, I will add ‘Timeout for Outside Mindful Distraction’ to my Personal Coping Kete for use during times of stress and distress.

This is the first of many, weekly coping strategies to experiment with.  You might like to download the information & strategies in the Coping Skills Recovery Resource sheet too. Come back in a week for a new strategy.