On Coping Mechanisms

By: Rachel Womek

For me, coming to the end of the semester seems like an appropriate time to talk about coping mechanisms. Healthy coping mechanisms that is. We’ve all got those unhealthy ones that do us more harm than good. Today I’m going to talk about positive ones. Mine, Kiki’s, and those of a mutual friend of ours: Dulce.

Me: Dulce, tell me what is your connection to zebras?

Dulce: (paraphrase) Sometimes I write the word “zebra” on my hand. This helps me to visualize the circumstances of a zebra fleeing from a natural predator. When I do this it helps me to remember the biological function of stress and how in our lives today this response, which is intended for survival, has been redirected into more mundane circumstances: Such as stress about work or school.

Me: Tell me about another healthy coping mechanism you have?

Dulce: (paraphrase) When I am doing my homework I like to have up tabs for recreational websites such as facebook and others in addition to my tabs for the homework. I don’t always use them but I like to have them up because it helps me feel like I have a choice to potentially opt out of doing homework.

Me: O.K, Kiki it’s your turn. Tell me about some of your coping mechanisms.

Kiki: (paraphrase) If I’m at home and I feel really stressed out I sometimes grab my pillow and scream curses into it. I’ll scream : “shit, piss, fuck” and bite the pillow. Another one that I often use for general anxiety is to write in my journal, sometimes it’s just an expletive! When I feel a build up of anxiety walking or running helps, it can be really beneficial to release that pent up anxiety in a physical way.

Me: One thing I like to do if  I am feeling some, but not overwhelming, anxiety and if I am in a controlled environment is meditate. It is very calming for me, but circumstances don’t always allow it. If I am in the middle of a stressful situation sometimes repeating mantras to myself can be very helpful. I will repeat to myself the conservation of energy law, the Bodhisattva’s aspiration, or sometimes “failure is impossible” which is a famous Susan B Anthony quote.  Another thing that helps me to cope is to mentally organize something non-related to whatever is causing me anxiety. for example, I will sometimes write a list of all of my tarantulas, in alphabetical order. Doing this gives me a sense of order and control.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “On Coping Mechanisms

  1. Pingback: Why GRATITUDE? « lindalouisereiki

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