The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Communication

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. 85: Looking for Encouragement

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

…I will help myself get through my problems by letting someone know what I am feeling and seeking encouragement.

I will use whatever means is appropriate to me in the moment, whether I need to take a private moment to make a phone call to someone I trust or talk to someone I am with.

For example, if I am worried about something that is happening in a meeting or social situation, I might need to excuse myself to give a friend a call or ask to talk to someone I trust there privately or maybe I will be comfortable talking to whoever happens to be there. I’ll let them know the situation I am in, what I am worried about/how I am affected and what I need encouragement with.

And then I will let them encourage me. If it is a personal matter and I am talking to someone who finds giving encouragement difficult or uncomfortable, I might try something like asking them to help me remember what strengths I have to help me get through. It might sound cheesy when it’s put in those terms, but I can say it any way I want.

This week, I actively look for encouragement when I need it. Sometimes it is hard to believe in ourselves when the going gets tough – at these times, we can look to the people around us for reminders. Then, later, I can refer to the memories of their encouragement to get me through when they are not around.

It is okay to feel what I feel and to look for support when I need it. This week, I will not make myself stand alone.

If I am out of practice with seeking encouragement and support, I will start out by seeking encouragement for small things that I find easy to talk about, during times of low stress. This will allow me to get used to it, before I am in a bad way and find it hard to do. Once I can seek out other people without a large amount of anxiety, I will add this to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping during times of distress.

No. 84: Naming Things

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

…I will practice calmly naming my thoughts and feelings to the people I interact with. Instead of trying to ‘show’ people how I feel and what I think in indirect ways, I will practice letting people know directly and respectfully with words.

This week, whenever I notice I am having an emotional response to something, whether pleasant or unpleasant, I will practice saying to the people I am with, ‘I notice myself feeling/thinking x,y,z when you say/do x,y,z.’ 

Depending on the what I am expressing and who I am with, sometimes I might need to wait for or create a private moment to express myself fully.

But this week I will practice naming what I can, when I can. So if it isn’t the right moment to talk about something at the time, but I have more to say on the matter, I can practice naming that to the person I am with – “I have some more thoughts about this and would like to talk to you about it privately sometime.”   

By naming positive thoughts and feelings to the people I am with I share and multiple the positive experiences I am having. By naming distressing thoughts and feelings to the people I am with I can reduce the physical signs of distress and access support, comfort and alternative perspectives. This week I will practice naming both sides of my experience to others.

Often, saying something out loud to another person is just the thing we need to take the sting out of a bad moment or remember a meaningful one.

If I find this kind of thing difficult or anxiety producing, I will start out really small with naming only positive reactions to people I am familiar with and then slowly expand out from there.

As I move through the week, I will reflect on what happens within me when I name my experiences and what happens around me when I name my experiences. I will use the insights gained from my reflection, to help me adapt the way I name things to others in different situations.

Once I am comfortable naming everyday thoughts to other people, I will add this to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for expressing myself when feeling pressed, stressed or distressed.

No 71: Requesting Assistance

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

…I will give myself the support I need to get through  difficult things by practicing the art of seeking help.

When I find myself feeling stressed or pressed, I will approach someone either in person, over the phone or in an instant message to let them know what is happening and ask for their help – either support, advice or practical assistance. If they are unavailable, I will go to someone else.

This week, when I feel something distressing, I will name the feeling and request assistance with it. 

So this week, I will practice saying things like “I am feeling stressed out right now, can you help me through it?” and “I’m feeling upset about something, can you talk to me about it?” and “I’m feeling worried right now, can you help distract me?”

In this way, I will get skilled at seeking support when I need it and allowing others to help me through. Notice that these small expressions don’t require the other person to actually solve the problem for you, but to stand beside you through the experience. People are often overwhelmed when they are asked to solve a problem, but they can find it much easier to stand with someone. Their presence and ability to listen is all that is needed.

I will practice with everyday situations that don’t involve a lot of high emotion first. Once I am used to seeking support with everyday things, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for dealing with distress.

No. 45: Voicing my inner experiences

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

…I will talk about my stresses. This week, the rule is that when I am experiencing any feelings of stress, I will name them, every time, even if they are only slight. This does not mean always going into detail or expecting help or even for the stress to get less as a result.

It means that whatever it is that I am dealing with, I am not dealing with it alone; the people around me know what I’m up to.  It also involves practicing accepting the way I feel without judging myself for it and gets me into the habit of expressing myself.

And who knows, the people around me might relate.

Once I am used to talking about my stress, I will add the strategy to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of shifting my mood when things are distressing.

No 16 – Regular contact

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

I will reach out to another person to talk about my day and what’s on my plate every day.  I will also give the other person the chance to talk to me about their day and what is on their plate at the same time.  This way things will not build up for me and I will get ongoing support and access to other perspectives.  If I am upset, I might get comfort and understanding.

This may take some planning, especially for those of us who are still building a social support network.  On days when I do not know who to ring, visit or chat to at the water cooler, I will call Youthline, Warmline or Lifeline and utilise a pair of expert ears.

It helps to make a list of people you can call.  And to start off with there’s

  • Youthline – Ph: 0800 37 66 33 | Free text: 234 | email: talk@youthline.co.nz
  • Warmline – Ph: 0508 WARMLINE or 0508 927 654
  • Lifeline – Ph: 0800 LIFE LINE or 0800 543 345
  • The Phobic Trust: 24-Hour Anxiety Help-Line; 0800 1 4 ANXIETY
  • A parent; A sibling or cousin; A friend; Another friend; A colleague

Once I am used to reaching out to someone regularly, I will add “Call Someone To Talk About It” to my Personal Coping Kete as something to do during times of stress.


No. 2 – Small Moments of Expression

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

…Try practicing small moments of expression by naming what you are feeling in the moment, out loud to the people around you. Using small moments of expression helps other people understand and be supportive at times of stress and distress.

You can practice expression by having a conversation, but expression can also be in our simple, throw-away comments. Not all expression needs to be in-depth and serious, even if what we are communicating is serious.

Start small by replying honestly when someone asks how your day is or naming the everyday moments of stress and distress out loud to the people around you. Of course we need to choose suitable times and adjust to the situation we are in but it’s usually possible to acknowledge in some way when stress is present for you. For example, saying ‘Man, this is full on!‘ Or ‘this is stressful!’ Or letting someone know ‘I’ve been better’ when they ask how you are. Sometimes, just saying it out loud and having it heard is all we need. Who knows, someone might relate, a moment of stress could become a moment of connection. When we have to hide our experiences they tend to intensify inside us. So it is important to be able to name what we are feeling sometimes.

You might use small moments of expression with a friend, family member, teacher, colleague, boss, class-mate, online friend, the person in the supermarket, whoever is present at the time.  If no one else is around, try naming it privately to yourself or call someone or get in touch with a helpline.

Once you are comfortable with your small moments of expression, add ‘Name It in the Moment’ to your Personal Coping Kete for use during times of stress and distress. Once you have practiced small moments of expression, you will be better able to give yourself the chance to be supported when you are distressed.