Have you ever felt stuck in trying to find coping skills that work for you? Have you wanted to try an activity to improve your mood but you don’t have any of the materials. Well, you’e in luck because for these skills, all you need is YOU!
Last week, I found myself exhausted from a week of working remotely, checking the news, and living in the uncertainty of the pandemic. My cat threw up in my bed- two days in a row!- and I found myself more irritable with… just about everyone. This was rubbing off on my husband as I could see he didn’t engage as much with me (can I really blame him?) and I didn’t really want to interact with anyone. I could recall what was making more irritable and exhausted; it was my fear of how the pandemic would impact mental health long term. Anyway, that is for a future blog post. But it was important for me to figure out what I was being “annoying” to others- I was scared and I couldn’t change the situation. So- rather than being irritable with my husband or yelling at my cat, I eventually decided to use my coping skills. It was also pretty convenient that I had taught these skills to high school students a week prior as part of the USC Keck School of Medicine PA Pipeline Program (shown below).
Coping Using Your 5 Senses (+ Free Worksheet Below)
There are so many different ways to cope but at times, you may find that your “go-to” coping skill is unavailable. For example, I love calling my friends to vent or check in for social support but there are times that my friends are busy. So, here are 5 ways you can cope- all you need is, well, YOU! These coping skills are easily accessible, and can improve your mood. You may be thinking- “I already do this stuff during the week”; but, I would encourage you to be more intentional about when you use the skills. For example, I love lighting scented candles. If I’m feeling particularly stressed out, I may go and light a candle in that moment to decrease stress and improve the moment.
USING YOUR SENSES CAN HELP GROUND YOU, DISTRACT YOU, AND MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD!
TOUCH. TASTE. SMELL. LISTEN. SEE.
These are your five senses that you can use to help cope through a difficult time. Taking a bath, listening to your favorite podcast, or cooking a childhood meal can help distract you from the stressor (for me, the pandemic), and activate positive emotions by doing something you enjoy.
Taste/Smell: Think about the last time you had your favorite childhood food (mac n cheese, anyone?!). The sense of smell is linked with memory– so if there is something you ate/smelled that is linked with a positive memory, now is your chance to activate those positive emotions.
Feel: People swear by their weighted blankets. I swear by petting my cats and dog. I feel SO much better when I am stressed but have a warm, slightly overweight cat to pet.
Hear/See: New podcast you’ve been waiting to listen? Funny movie you’ve seen 100 times? Rather than sulking by listening to your sad music (goodbye, Avril Lavigne!), pull out something to watch that will make you laugh or evoke a different emotion than the one you’re experiencing now!
PRACTICE ONE COPING SKILL A DAY FOR THE NEXT WEEK; DOWNLOAD THE FREE WORKSHEET BELOW AND WRITE DOWN 10 IDEAS (TWO PER SENSE) THAT YOU CAN PRACTICE DURING THE WEEK.