The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Nurturing

No. 22: Planting An Imaginary Garden

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

I will practice using visualisation to change the moment. Once a day, I will visualise myself planting and then enjoying my own imaginary garden. My imaginary garden will be my idea of the most perfect garden. This is a private place of my own design.  I will plant my favourite flowers, shrubs, herbs, fruit trees, vegetables and any other plants that I have enjoyed at some time. I will start at the beginning by imagining the piece of land that the garden is on and laying out where I want each thing to be.

The good thing about an imaginary garden is that we can make things flower well or mature whenever we want them to, without having to worry about things like time or seasons! Each time I come back to the visualisation, I can add something else or I can simply take a walk through the garden, watching things grow or just enjoying what is there.  I will imagine the sounds in my garden, perhaps there are birds there or I can simply hear the wind through the trees.  I will furnish the garden with any kinds of extras that I may please, I might hang a hammock under one of the mature trees, I might have a river running through the bottom of the garden, whatever I find peaceful and beautiful in nature, I can put in my garden.

I will create this peaceful ‘space’ in my imagination and I will return to it when I need a bit of calm or some distraction from the intensity of the moment.

Throughout the visualisation I will practice diaphragmatic breathing – deep, soft, slow breaths into my belly. This will help to create a conditioned association between imagining the garden and relaxed breathing, so over time it will become very easy to experience a state of calm when I practice the visualisation.  Once the garden is established in my imagination, I can pop in really briefly and get the same kind of benefit.

I can do this exercise whether I have a garden or don’t have a garden, because in my imaginary garden I am not constrained by any of the rules or barriers that may be present in the real world.

Once I am comfortable using this visualisation to relax, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of shifting moments of stress and distress.

No. 18: Eating Mood Foods

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

I will eat at least one Mood Food every day to give myself the essentials that my body needs to operate effectively and regulate my emotions.  By setting my body up to respond well to stress, I will build my resilience to distress – I will have the energy and resources I need to cope.  By paying mindful attention to eating foods that are good for me in this way, I will be engaging in the practice of valuing myself.  I could also use this as a chance to explore new foods and recipes.

Mood Foods contain magnesium, selenium, B-vitamins, folic acid, tyrosine, tryptophan and zinc, among other things.  These vitamins and minerals are involved in low energy, concentration, insomnia, irritability, confusion, anxiety and low motivation.  There is an excellently detailed list of foods to incorporate in the Nutrients Table at

In the Engage Booster Group, we circled the foods we liked or might like on the Nutrients Table and then found ways of incorporating them into one meal a day.  Everyone who tried it noticed a difference in the way they felt two weeks later, even though nothing in their environment had changed. The group decided to try to continue with this for another month and see what happened.

Some Good Mood Foods:

  • Brazil nuts – 3 brazil nuts a day meets all of your magnesium and selenium needs.
  • LSA: A combination of ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds that can be sprinkled over most foods to add magnesium, selenium, tryptophan, zinc and B3 content to whatever you are eating. Or just eat whole almonds and sunflower seeds.
  • Bananas – these are a power food, they contain so many essentials and all of the essentials we named above.
  • Blackberries, Pineapple, Kiwifruit
  • Peas, Spinach, Broccoli
  • Salmon, Tuna, Mussels – for omega-3 oils, folic acid, B vitamins and zinc.
  • Olive oil
  • Brown rice, Wholemeal pasta, Wholemeal bread – wholegrains contain Folic Acid, magnesium and important B vitamins.  They also provide you with longer lasting energy and make you feel full longer than processed grains.
  • Plain yoghurt, Parmesan Cheese, Cheddar Cheese
  • Miso soup – zinc and tyrosine: you can also cook with miso, it’s a soy-bean extract.  Marmite is a good source of tyrosine too.

Once I’ve gotten comfortable eating and using these foods, I will add ‘Eat and Prepare a Mood Food’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of shifting my mood and engaging with resilience when I am feeling distressed.

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. 9 – A Body of Strengths

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

I will remind myself of my strengths regularly throughout my day. If I find this difficult to do off the top of my head, I will prepare a written list in advance that I can pull from pocket or bag and read.  I will add to this list as time goes on and I get better at identifying the positive attributes, qualities and skills that I possess.  If I am unsure of my strengths and skills, I will ask people who know me to have a think about it and get back to me with what they think my positive qualities are.

Once I am used to thinking about my positive qualities a bit, I will add ‘Remember I am a Body of Strengths’ to my Personal Coping Kete.

By thinking about my strengths during moments of stress and distress, I will work to balance my thoughts, emotions and physical responses. Whenever I notice that my self-talk is full of put-downs, self-directed insults or pessimistic expectations I will start listing in my head the strengths and skills that I have shown in the past.

It can help to do a few diaphragmatic breaths first, especially if you are really distressed. See Week 6 for instructions on how to learn diaphragmatic breathing.  Once you’ve learned it, it’s a great complement to most strategies.

No. 8 – Supportive Self-Talk

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

I will practice giving myself encouragement when I notice shifts in my mood or energy level, as I would encourage a dearly loved friend, who I truly believed in, “it’ll be okay, you can handle this.

By speaking to myself with respect, support and reassurance, I will practice valuing and nurturing myself.

In the moment, I will be providing myself with the possibility that things could turn out as I would like and reminding myself of the probability that whatever happens, I will be able to get through it.

Once I am comfortable with encouraging myself through smaller moments of pressure, I will add ‘Supportive Self-Talk’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing strategy in times of stress and distress as a reminder to talk myself through the tough stuff too.