My counsellor has two training sessions which run over my usual sessions. As a result I have a 21 day break until my next session.
While I am anxious about what this might mean in terms of my ability to cope with stress, I can clearly see that this is an appropriate opportunity to see if I can cope without the additional support.
I was thinking about what I could do to lessen potential stress or anxiety. I figured that these contemplations would be preparing me for eventually being done with counselling all together. These would be my new ways of coping post therapy.
Well my first thought when I realised was that, previously I had made my other half promise that on the first Tuesday where I didn’t have counselling, he would take us bowling so that rather than being aware we could engage with something else instead.
While slamming heavy balls down a well polished isle might provide some stress relief, it’s not going to be suitable as an everyday coping mechanism.
So I decided to compile a list of things I can do to cope with stress. Just maybe, they might help you too.
Write absolutely anything! Write down how angry you are and why, write to really explore your emotions. Write to escape, dream up a wild fantasy adventure to be lost within and write it down to share. Write a poem. Write a song. Write a letter you will never send. Start a private blog then eventually decide it’s time to go public.
2. Ukulele: (or whatever more serious instrument you like)
Practice playing your instrument or learn how to play one. While it takes patience and plenty of practise to learn a new instrument it also takes commitment and focus. Youtube has opened up the opportunity to learn various instruments using tutorials by all sorts of talented people. Disclaimer: I love the ukulele and think it has been seriously underrated for too long.
3. Music and Dance:
Grab your kids, your wife, your husband, your friends, your family or maybe go it alone… whoever you are with, invite them to listen to fun or silly songs!
Do the propeller with the wiggles and your children, call for the witch doctor with your gran and karaoke that song from Matilda with your dad. Just put on whatever it is that makes you want to move and go with it.
Cry it out to your favourite heart wrenchers sitting in the shower because sometimes we just need to let it out. Sing I try with tears in your eyes because even though you’re mad now you aint leavin or scream I want to break free in defiance to the demands of your everyday.
Just feel whatever you’re listening to. Remember to love yourself afterwards. Too much Adele brings on imagined heart break. Ha.
4. Sensory box:
A box with a soft thing, smelly thing, colourful thing, pretty thing, shiney thing, old thing, new thing etc…
A sensory box is not just for a person with sensory impairments. Having a box to go to in times of distress can be exceptionally helpful and here’s how to go about making your own.
Find an item to stimulate each of your five senses.
+ Touch + Sight + Smell + Hear + Taste
Find a box, draw or special space to keep these items together.
+ soft glove + A glass marble + a perfume/aftershave sprayed on the glove + a comb to strum it’s teeth + a mini version of your favourite chocolate
+ tactile crystal + a picture of someone inspiring + an incense stick + small singing bowl + some change to buy strawberries with
When you feel you have become distressed and moved away from your baseline temperament, collect your box and sit with it.
Explore each item individually paying full attention to the sensations you experience.
5. Give yourself permission:
Allow yourself to experience what you are feeling. When you are done feeling strongly, contemplate ways to reduce discomfort and accept that having strong or overwhelming emotions does not make you a bad person.
Recognise that happy is not a permanent state. If it were, how would we know we were feeling it?
I’ve put this one last but it is by no means a minor suggestion at all. Over years of practice I have been lucky enough to develop a whole world full of colours and light to roam around in when I meditate. I also like to practise meditation with number focus – such as holding ‘1 one 1’ in my mind and only picturing the word ‘one’ while thinking ‘one’ too.
I believe that meditation can be a powerful tool for healing and relieving stress or negative thinking. I will link some guided meditations below for people looking to dip their toe.
Good luck on your journey towards inner peace. I hope that these suggestions are useful for you too.
If you use any of these techniques to self soothe and alleviate stress please get in touch and share your tactics/stories so that they might help others too.