Okay so using coping skills is not outdated but the word itself has become very generic and overused. My kids at the residential facility I used to work as a therapist at used to HATE that word lol, so I stopped using it a long time ago. It is a little difficult to abandon the ways of Graduate school because one never wants to forget the foundation in which we were built upon and I cannot set aside the knowledge I received and utilized to help me become the social worker I am today! So needless to say I am still to this day an advocate of having an outlet to some of your worst mental health moments whether you are a stressed out social worker or an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is imperative one develops their go to actions when experiencing down moments.
So I recently discussed on my Instagram page @prodevwithek how I have some go-to ways of coping that I utilize the most and even shared two that are pretty special to me so I am going to include those and a bonus that may help you and/or your clients to decompress and rediscover their equilibrium.
Let me describe what I mean by equilibrium. When I think about equilibrium, I think of the happy chemicals released in the brain that help us find a place of peace. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines equilibrium as: "Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins..... the quartet responsible for our happiness." These happy chemicals can only be present in a state of equilibrium. Depression, loneliness, suicidal ideations do not exist when these chemicals are present.
So the question is, Ebone, how does one release those chemicals? Well, I can't answer that question for YOU and I certainly cannot answer that question for all you helping professionals out there who have a client, patient, student, etc asking the same question. What I can do, however, is share my own favorite coping skills.
I love the outdoors, especially fall time! I haven't done it in a while but I started hiking at the urging of a friend a couple of years ago and I love it (That is, of course, if I don't get anxious from getting lost lol). The sunlight really does give me energy. Here's the proof from an article written by Catherine Shaffer, M.Sc. in News Medical Life Sciences:
“Some of those protective effects may be due to the role of sunlight in vitamin D synthesis, as the human body requires exposure to UV-B radiation to synthesize vitamin D. Without sun exposure, oral vitamin D supplements are required to maintain health.”
So here is the proof that Vitamin D does a body good and when your body is healthy and feeling good, your brain health is good too which equals happy chemicals AND good nutrition for your body!
2. Bubbles (aka Deep Breathing with a twist)
This actually stems from my absolute love for blowing dandelions in the wind when I was a kid! When I was a therapist at a residential facility I had a hard time getting my teens to focus on deep breathing. Counting to 5, 10 or whatever was just way too hard for them to do when they are at a very heightened depressive and/or angry state. I wish I could remember where I got the idea from so I can give the credit where credit is due, but I made frequent trips to dollar tree to spend therapy sessions outside blowing bubbles with clients, sometimes more for the calming of my anxiety more so than theirs. And you can count if you want....just picture the bubbles as the happy chemicals being released in your brain!
As a young very stressed teenager this looked more like me writing ferociously in my diary getting all of the bottled up feelings of my difficult live on paper. Now a days I still write but I know myself a little more, I now realize I was creating more of a cocoon for my introverted nature and needing to recover from everyday life of being around people constantly at school and church. Prayer has been my absolute refuge in my 30's, growing closer to God has been MY outlet, might not be for everyone, but it is most definitely for me. It all works the same, getting thoughts out of your head is the best way to free up room in one's brain to release the happy chemicals.
So there you have it! My 'coping skills'.
What about you?
What are your favorite ways to de-stress and find your equilibrium?