The Coping Kete

Monthly Archives: May 2012

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No. 98: Just One Pleasurable Thing

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

…I will purposefully do one pleasurable thing every day.

From the list of 113 activities below, I will choose one different pleasurable thing that I can do each day and plan which day I will do them. Each time I put one of the activities into practice, I will acknowledge my accomplishment, however small. I will observe how I felt before, during and after the activity to help myself become aware of what kinds of things lift my mood more than others.

It can be hard to start doing pleasurable things if we have been down or disconnected for a while. So I might plan small steps to begin with and scale back the length of time I plan on doing each activity for – e.g. it might be easier to start with attempting a 5-minute activity than an hour-long one. The goal for this week is to start by doing just trying one thing each day, regardless of how I feel. If the idea of every day is hard, I’ll just do one or two days. It doesn’t even need to work, the point is just to practice doing it and get used to doing it. If it’s unfamiliar, it probably won’t start being enjoyable until I’m used to doing it.

Once I am comfortable doing pleasurable things every day. I will add ‘Just One Pleasurable Thing’ to my Personal Coping Kete along with a short list of some of my favourite things. Then, in moments of stress and distress, I will try doing just one pleasurable thing to shift the way I am feeling in the moment. It’s good to have a mini-list there because it can be ultra hard to think of pleasurable things to do when we are in a bad space.

113 Pleasurable Activities 

  1. Soaking in the bathtub
  2. Planning my career
  3. Collecting things (coins, shells, etc.)
  4. Recycling old items
  5. Going to a movie
  6. Jogging, walking
  7. Thinking I have done a full day’s work
  8. Lying in the sun
  9. Planning a career change
  10. Listening to others
  11. Reading magazines or newspapers
  12. Hobbies (stamp collecting, model building, etc.)
  13. Spending an evening with good friends
  14. Planning a day’s activities
  15. Meeting new people
  16. Remembering beautiful scenery
  17. Going to the gym, doing aerobics
  18. Thinking how it will be when I finish school
  19. Getting out of debt/paying debts
  20. Practising karate, judo, yoga
  21. Repairing things around the house
  22. Working on my car (bicycle)
  23. Remembering the words and deeds of loving people
  24. Having quiet evenings
  25. Taking care of my plants
  26. Going swimming
  27. Doodling
  28. Exercising
  29. Collecting old things
  30. Going to a party
  31. Playing golf
  32. Playing soccer
  33. Flying kites
  34. Having discussions with friends
  35. Having family get-togethers
  36. Going camping
  37. Singing around the house
  38. Arranging flowers
  39. Going to church, praying (practising religion)
  40. Going to the beach
  41. Thinking I’m an OK person
  42. A day with nothing to do
  43. Going ice skating, roller skating/blading
  44. Sketching, painting
  45. Doing embroidery, cross stitching
  46. Going birdwatching
  47. Singing with groups
  48. Playing musical instruments
  49. Doing arts and crafts
  50. Making a gift for someone
  51. Buying CDs, tapes, records
  52. Watching boxing, wrestling
  53. Planning parties
  54. Cooking, baking
  55. Going hiking, bush walking
  56. Writing books (poems, articles)
  57. Going out to dinner
  58. Discussing books
  59. Sightseeing
  60. Early morning coffee and newspaper
  61. Playing tennis
  62. Watching my children (play)
  63. Going to plays and concerts
  64. Catch up with an old friend
  65. Daydreaming
  66. Watching videos or DVDs
  67. Going bike riding
  68. Completing a task
  69. Thinking about my achievements
  70. Eating gooey, fattening foods
  71. Photography
  72. Star gazing
  73. Reading fiction
  74. Being alone
  75. Writing diary/journal entries or letters
  76. Cleaning
  77. Reading non-fiction
  78. Dancing
  79. Thinking “I did that pretty well” after doing something
  80. Meditating
  81. Having lunch with a friend
  82. Going to the hills
  83. Playing cards
  84. Having a political discussion
  85. Solving riddles/puzzles
  86. Seeing and/or showing photos or slides
  87. Knitting/crocheting/quilting
  88. Shooting pool/Playing billiards
  89. Dressing up and looking nice
  90. Reflecting on how I’ve improved
  91. Talking on the phone
  92. Going to museums, art galleries
  93. Lighting candles
  94. Having coffee at a cafe
  95. Getting/giving a massage
  96. Saying “I love you”
  97. Thinking about my good qualities
  98. Having a spa, or sauna
  99. Going skiing
  100. Going canoeing or white-water rafting
  101. Going bowling
  102. Doing woodworking
  103. Fantasising about the future
  104. Doing ballet, jazz/tap dancing
  105. Debating
  106. Having an aquarium
  107. Going horseback riding
  108. Going rock climbing
  109. Thinking about becoming active in the community
  110. Making jigsaw puzzles
  111. Playing with my pets
  112. Having a barbecue
  113. Rearranging the furniture in my house

These activities were taken from a longer list by an unknown author found in this great online article by Elisha Goldstein, which also happens to have some excellent tips on putting pleasurable activities into action when they feel like the last things we want to do.

No. 97: ABC Thought Catching

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

… I will practice engaging with my thoughts and how they are affecting my mood by practicing thought-catching. Being able to catch my thoughts and follow their connection to my moods is a key step towards being able to reason myself out of stress and distress when I need to. Taking a moment to be aware of the core components of my experience will help me be able to respond with awareness.

This week, whenever I notice a slight drop in my mood, I will take a moment to ask myself what just happened (A), what it did to my mood (C) and what I might have been telling myself about whatever happened to cause that mood change (B).  It is not easy to notice our own thoughts, which is why I will start out by trying to catch thoughts associated with minor changes in mood. Once I’m comfortable with that, I will move on to using thought-catching as an engagement strategy in times of stress and distress.

It is often helpful at first to use a pen and paper to note these things down in three columns.

(A) Activating event: What just happened?

(B) Thoughts / Self Talk: What might I have told myself about that?

(C) Mood Change: What happened to my mood?

In this way, I will start to build up a picture of the kinds of thoughts that make my moods swing, and the kinds of situations that trigger those thoughts. This will prepare me to be able to recognise and catch those thoughts later when they are fueling my distress.

Once I have gotten good at making myself aware of what my thoughts are, I will add thought-catching to my Personal Coping Kete. In times of stress and distress, I will be able to practice catching my thoughts and observing to myself what triggered them and how the thoughts made me feel. By engaging with my thoughts and emotions before I respond, I will be better prepared to soothe, express, distract myself from or get support with them.

No. 96: Learning a Theme Song

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

…I will use music to help me improve the moment and connect with positive emotion by learning to hum or whistle a song I associate with happy vibes and good energy.

If no song jumps to mind automatically I will get to spend some time listening to different songs until I find one I like.

Then as I move through my day, I will periodically remember to practice humming or whistling the tune while I am doing my daily tasks. This could help to insert some pleasant energy into whatever I am doing.

Once I am comfortable and familiar with humming or whistling my tune, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a distraction and self-soothing technique for times of stress and distress.

Then, when I find myself stressed or distressed, I can distract myself for a moment by trying to remember the tune and whistling/humming it. The act of humming and whistling changes the level of oxygen in the blood and can physically help to soothe negative emotions I could be feeling, so I can return to the situation later with a clearer head. Whenever I hum or whistle my tune, I will be reminded of the positive message of the song I chose and this might also help inspire me through tough moments.

This is also a pretty good strategy to use if I ever feel so anxious that it gets hard to breathe. Humming or whistling a song could help to counteract that without having to focus my attention onto my breathing.

No. 95: Doing Something Else

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

…I will practice doing something else to shift my mood when I need to improve the moment. To prepare myself, I will make a list of random activities that I am familiar with. For example things like baking, reading a book, walking around the block, washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, doing a cross-word and making a card for someone are all pretty common activities that many people could do at almost any time.

It is important these are activities I am familiar with as learning something new is incredibly difficult during times of stress and distress.

When I notice myself getting stuck in an unhelpful mood or chain of thinking that I can’t really do much about right now, I will practice doing the items on my list. I will focus my attention on the task at hand, noticing my movements, the space around, various sensations and my desired outcome. If worried or distressed thoughts find their way into my mind, I will notice and observe them there as I carry on with what I am doing. In this way I will practice connecting my attention with the world outside myself when my inner world is getting too intense, without pushing my internal reality away altogether.

This week I remember that no matter how I feel, I can always compel my muscles to move. In this way I always have power over my circumstances. 

Once I have figured out which kinds of familiar activities help me to focus on something else when my emotions are not serving me well, I will add those activities to my Personal Coping Kete.

When I am finding it hard to counter-act unwanted thoughts or express distressing moods, I can use these activities to distract myself until some of the heat has come out of them and I am able to look at the situation more objectively.