In honor of my September goal to find some non-screen ways to deal with stressors I have decided to make Mondays on the blog Mental Health Mondays, a chance to look at an oft-neglected area of our health. I’m not coming at this from a little Miss Perfect, stress-free perspective—a month ago my eye was twitching like crazy and I’ve been known to drown my frustrations in a bowl of ice cream—so let’s acknowledge right off we all probably have work to do in this area.
Speaking of work, I work with troubled children and teens so I spend a lot of my day talking about ways to cope with negative emotions. I recently worked with a few of my kids to develop their personal ways to change negative feelings and I thought “Geez, everybody should do this”! So without further ado here is my “Coping Quiz”.
What bands do you enjoy listening to? Zac Brown Band, Kelly Clarkson,
What do you feel when you listen to them? Happy, Relaxed, Empowered
What song always makes you feel calm? Toes by Zac Brown Band 😀
What song always gets you pumped up? Defying Gravity and Eye of the Tiger
What movie always puts you in a good mood? Yes Man! Such a fun movie with a positive vibe and good laughs!
What exercise do you enjoy doing? Running, hiking, walking, playing tennis, biking, practicing yoga.
How do you feel after you finish that exercise? Relief, proud, excited, strong, happy relaxed, peaceful.
Is there an exercise that you feel worse after doing? Playing volleyball, skiing—I suck at both and I only end up with a bruised body and ego.
Talking to a Friend
Who can you talk to about your feelings and problems? Who will listen and not judge you? My husband, sister, friend Bethany, my mom. I also talk to God a lot about my feelings; figured it’s pretty silly to pretend I’m feeling something that I’m not with Him since He knows it all anyways. I also sometimes talk to myself or animals, like our family dog Shep. Babies are also good confidants.
What stands in your way of talking to others about your feelings? Embarrassment, awkwardness, fear of judgment, fear of being misunderstood, lack of time, or putting it off till the “right” moment. P.S. The “right” moment is a myth.
Have you ever “spilled your guts” to someone? How did you feel afterward? Yes. Many times. Sometimes it gives me perspective, sometimes I still feel confused, but at least commiserated with. In general it just feels like my problem gets a little lighter when I share it.
What one thing would you never get tired of doing? Reading! With the right stack of books I think I could read forever!
How do you feel when you do it? Relaxed, intrigued, stimulated, happy.
What are some other things that make you feel calm and relaxed? Organizing stuff, ogling Pinterest, baking, doing puzzles, checking out blogs, playing the piano, brushing my hair, getting a massage or pedicure, bubble baths, watching episodes of Friends, being near water.
The goal at the end of the inventory is empower yourself with knowledge about what makes you feel good. Maybe you’ve never taken the time to think about that. Well take a little time now, friend!
Seriously. Go. Now.
Notice that “chowing down on a box of chew chips ahoy” didn’t make my list, but that is often the direction I head when I am stressed out. Maybe for you it’s something else, but most of us have developed some non-healthy ways to deal with our problems.
By writing down your “feel good activities” you now have an incredibly tool to help yourself cope positively. When you’re tempted to raid the fridge, grab your list and find something to do!
You can even take it a step further and create some sort of a “Bad Day Box” with your favorite music, a fun movie, numbers of friends to call, an exercise dvd or photo of yourself after a fitness accomplishment, list of activities to do, favorite book, bar of chocolate, etc. When you’re having a rough day and need to turn it around—you’re angry, sad, frustrated, frightened—you dig into the box and find something to turn your frown upside down!
How do you deal with bad days? Share one of your answers to the Coping Quiz in the comments!