The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Writing Exercise

No. 49: Little Beauties

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

I will train my attention to take in the pleasant elements of the world around me. In a small notebook, each night I will write a list of five beautiful things I saw that day. If I do this exercise regularly, I can train myself to automatically notice the good things around me. This would help to balance my mood out all of the time.

When I am used to noticing beautiful things, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of distracting myself from unwanted thoughts during moments of distress. If I change what I am focusing my attention on, I can change the way I am feeling. If I am feeling sad or low, I will take my notebook and write an extra list in the current moment, just by looking around me right now. When things start to feel pressed, stressed or distressed, I will read my lists of beautiful things and remember or visualise them.

No. 43: Ten Words

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

I will practice using poetry to express myself. I will use the short ‘Ten Words’ writing exercise to sort out my thoughts, centre myself and express what is going on for me.  By making myself aware of what my current moment is all about, I will be able to move beyond responding in the moment based on my emotions, by getting a better understanding of what they are about. This will help me to better express myself to others if I want to.

After the writing exercise, I will turn to a support, engagement, mindfulness or self-soothing exercise if I am still feeling distressed, pressed or stressed in any way. Understanding things is a great tool, but it does not automatically mean that we will feel better. This writing exercise doesn’t guarantee we form the most accurate or expansive understanding either. To do that, we need to talk to other people.

This week I will do the writing exercise at least one time a day, keeping in mind that it usually takes 90 repetitions of something new before it becomes an automatic, easy way of responding.

Once I’ve gotten used to writing poems, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of expressing myself when I am experiencing stress or distress.

Ten Words Writing Exercise

Step 1: Write down ten words that come into mind when you think about what you are experiencing in the current moment (that’s right now). If you can’t think of ten, just write down however many you can think of.

Step 2: In any order you want to, write one sentence to expand on how each word is relevant. You can simply explain why you wrote the word down or you might like to describe the way the word is experienced or felt or compare it to something that it reminds you of.  If you would like to get creative, this exercise can be used to write a short story or a poem. This is a useful thing to do, because these can be often be read to others.

For example

1. Stress | 2. Stretched | 3. Jittery | 4. Responsibility | 5. Racing | 6. Commitments | 7. Money | 8. Hunger | 9. Love | 10. Value

stress: my stomach holds it, acid-tongued.

Stretched: i am my own god of destruction and creation, i want to reach in all directions like Siva

Jittery: i pull myself these ways, the pulse running to keep time with the mind

Responsibility: so many rocks i’ve got to hold up above my head and balance there

Racing: while i send my brain stem messages of ‘calm. the. hell. down.’ and ‘this. is. not. a. survival. moment’

Commitment: and i have promised things i mean to keep, which also is heavy

Money: and there is never enough of the things that we need

Hunger: and there is so much we want to get out of all this

Love: and i’m still struggling to let you love me and trying to relinquish my controls.

Value: it is still easier for me to trust the dark in a stranger’s eyes than let the light in yours reach me, but i am learning.

If I take out all my ‘inspiration words’ and join up my lines, they become a poem! This is something I could read to a friend or family member to communicate what I am dealing with at the moment.

No. 42: Daily Free-Flow

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

I will keep a daily journal of thoughts, feelings and impressions from the day. This will allow me to ‘sort out’ my thoughts, become aware of what is going on for me and process the things I need to adapt to.

I will need a dedicated notebook to write in and somewhere safe to keep it.

I might need to schedule this in each day in order to get in the habit of doing it and it might take a while to get used to writing.

It doesn’t matter what I write or how I write it, the point is to get in the habit of connecting non-judgmentally with my own inner states and learn ways of expressing them.  Part of accessing support is being able to express our need, and this will be a good way of working on that.  At the same time, writing each day can help to calm racing thoughts and sort out any sense of confusion.  If I am ever finding it difficult to write anything down, I will write down ‘the story of my day’ and finish it off by saying how I feel about that. If I have any further thoughts I can then write those down, in that way start to bring my thoughts and feelings to the surface.

If doing this exercise leads me to think on things that upset or distress me, I will practice self-soothing and mindfulness exercises to comfort myself back to the present, current moment, in which I am safe. I will experiment with different ways of writing about my day until I find a way that allows me to sort out my thoughts without intensifying the distressing aspects of them.

Once I am used to expressing myself in a daily journal, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of expressing my thoughts privately during times of stress and distress.

No. 27: Finding a Kernel Worth Carrying

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

I will practice finding a positive lesson in my daily experiences, particularly things that are distressing, stressful or downright regrettable. This week, I will remind myself of two things: firstly, I can create the meaning of the things in my life, and secondly, mistakes are a necessary part of evolving.

Often we dwell on the aspects of experience that could have been better and increase our own distress. Instead of doing that, I will learn something about the strengths I want to develop,  how other people see things and how to cope. I will create meanings that boost me up not pull me down. Simply being able to survive some things is a lesson about my own resilience, which will serve me well into the future.

I will change the things I can change and accept the things that I can’t change about my experiences, but what I carry with me from them will be something worth carrying.

I will learn to do this by taking some mental time out to either write in a journal or think about something positive I can take away from the experience.  I could also talk through the experience and what to take from it with a therapist, trusted friend or whanau member.

This contemplation is a respectful time in which I am my own kind-hearted teacher.

Once I am comfortable thinking about the meaningful, positive lessons I can take from daily situations, I will add it to me Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for reducing negative reactions to the things that go wrong in my life.

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. 14 – A Letter to The Past

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

I will use letter-writing as a means of private expression.  If I find myself thinking over and over a past negative experience, I will write a letter to one of the people in the situation or my past self explaining how it was for me and airing any unfinished business.  I will finish the letter by writing what I need now and what I can do for myself now.

When I have written down everything I wanted to say but didn’t have the chance to, I will screw the letter up and throw it away as a symbolic gesture of moving on from things I cannot change.

I will then turn my attention to one small thing I have been needing or wanting to get done.

Whenever my thoughts turn back to the experience, I will remember what was at the heart of my letter and give myself empathy and compassion for what has distressed me.  I will then remember that moment of releasing it and bring my thoughts back to the current moment by describing the immediate situation to myself.

Often we need to let go more than once. If I find this engagement strategy helpful, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of expressing feelings about the past again later.

No. 3 – Space to Make Considered Responses

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

I will practice giving myself the opportunity to respond consciously with awareness, rather than automatically, based on emotion.  Each day I will take 5 minutes out, to think about a time of minor stress during the day and write down in a notebook

  • what just happened
  • what it made me think of at the time
  • what I would like to do next
  • and what I will do next

Sometimes we get distressed because things seem overwhelming and out of our control.

If we take some time out of the situation and work through it, we are able to access a wider perspective of our environment, why it’s affecting us and what to do next.

Writing helps to focus the mind on the task at hand & flick us over into a more methodical frame of mind.

Once I have gotten comfortable with thinking about my experiences in this way, I will add ‘Write Myself Through a Considered Response’ to my Personal Coping Kete for use in times of stress and distress.