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Coping Skills.


I work really hard to manage my mental health & maintain some level of stability in myself. I'd like to discuss some of the tools that help me stay on track. I call these my coping skills.

I keep a daily record of everything that affects my mental health: my mood at five points throughout the day; how well I slept; when I took my medications & what side effects I experience; how much marijuana I used & when; what I struggled with in the morning, afternoon, & evening, & what coping skills I used to help; & what I accomplished during the day. I created a one page template that I use nearly every day to track my success. This helps me track what coping skills are effective, how sleep affects my mood, if I'm keeping up with my medication & how that affects my mood, & my overall progress with treatment.

Playing with my cat, PookieBear, helps me a lot. It makes me feel loved & warm & content, & it brings joy to my life as we play & cuddle several times a day. He has always been a bright torch in my life, leading me back to my true self & making me feel at home, both in the house & with myself.

Colouring books provide something for me to focus my energy on. It helps me battle the negative thoughts forcefully invading my mind. The attention to detail & its beautiful outcome are very therapeutic.

Smells are a huge deal for me. Because of this, I invest in candles & essential oils to use throughout the day. I use jasmine for perfume & lavender & frankensence in the shower, both tips from my best friend. (Thanks!) I have a "chill spray" with a variety of essential oils that I spray in the air around me & breathe in to help relax me. I enjoy burning candles in whatever room I'm occupying at home. Even good smelling shampoo & conditioner can prove beneficial. Any good, consistent smell helps ground me in reality & root me in the present moment, filling my nose & my mind with beautiful peace, stillness, & contentment.

Listening to beautiful music is soothing, especially songs with a piano or flute. It also helps if there are nature sounds in the music, like ocean waves or birds chirping. I especially enjoy this while doing a relaxing activity, such as meditating, taking a bath, or going to bed.

Exercise helps, but when my symptoms are bad, this is out of the question; it's simply too difficult. So I make the most of my stable days & go for a walk or a jog nearby, or I go pole dancing. Being fully engaged in the present moment helps ground me in reality & in myself.

Pole dancing is a great outlet when I have the opportunity to do it. The pain from pole burn substitutes for cutting, so dancing helps keep self-harm to a minimum. The exercise is a great outlet to work through all my emotions as well.

Getting out in nature always helps tremendously. I try to begin each morning with a walk around the neighbourhood. Some afternoons I'll go to a park & hike or swing. I go camping with friends when given the chance. I greatly welcome any opportunity to get out in nature, even if only for a brief period of time. Being in nature with my roots alleviates depressive thoughts & anxious feelings. Engaging with nature & sunshine revive my spirit & soothe my soul, implementing deep sustainable peace within me.

Sitting in sunshine helps me on a nice summer day, especially with calming music or an intriguing book. Once again, this is an activity that helps ground me in reality & root me in the present moment, minimizing my symptoms for a little while. I enjoy getting a tan too because seeing a change & feeling the burn are rewarding & comforting.

Baths help calm & center me. I enjoy using Epsom salt with some essential oils, like lavender. It's most effective in the dark with candles lit & soothing music playing, like my Native American flute station on Pandora.

Sudoku puzzles help me engage in the present moment & focus my mental energy on problem solving. It's very rewarding & beneficial because it keeps me engaged with a challenge & focused on something other than my own thoughts.

Physical touch is huge. Long hugs & cuddles are very relieving in that they calm & ground me, filling me with peace & joy.

Self-affirmations improve my mental state, especially when I say them aloud. Speaking truth, light, love, validation, & encouragement to myself nourishes my spirit. It's a solid reminder of truth & hope when my brain only comes up with deceit & darkness.

Meditation helps, especially with shamanic snuff called rapé (pronounced HEH-pae). It's a concoction of tobacco & herbs created by a shaman. It clears out the pineal gland & completely stabilizes me. It temporarily relieves all symptoms & provides me with a clear mind so that I can fight harder to improve my mental state. It entirely grounds me in reality, rooting me in the present moment & breathing life & peace back into my lungs. All darkness, depression, & anxiety fade away & are replaced with a clear mind that can process life fully, rather than chaotically. It's the most incredible medicine I've ever found, even compared with marijuana & my current psychiatric medications. The only time my meditation is clear & productive is when I do it with rapé.

Facial masks help me. I have three kinds right now: a charcoal & black sugar polishing mask as a dual-action purifying mask; an avocado & oatmeal clay mask to deep clean & purify pores; &, my personal favourite, a dead sea minerals anti-stress mask to clear pores & smooth skin. Like my other coping skills, this activity forces me to focus on & engage with the present moment, allowing all worry, doubt, & hopelessness to dwindle away.

Photographs are immensely significant to me. My brain has a difficult time processing & remembering things, so I take lots of pictures of scenery & my experiences. This helps ground me in reality. I look back at those photos a dozen times on the day I took them & I marvel, "Wow!, That's what I experienced?! That's what I look like? That's what I look like when I'm truly happy??" I am blown away by the reality check every single time, as if I'd never seen myself before.

This one will seem weird to most, & that's OK--judgments are acceptable just this one time (LOL). Growing up, my family used hairdryers to help them sleep. We would leave them on at night, allowing the warm air to blown on our cold toes, & we used the sound of it like a sound machine to relax us. Because of this, resting with a hairdryer on is extremely therapeutic because it takes me back to childhood where I felt totally safe & at peace. Never in adulthood have I genuinely felt that for long periods of time, so this feeling is rare & beautiful. It helps calm & stabilize me greatly.

These coping skills all help to root me in reality & ground me in the present moment, relieving my symptoms--including depression & anxiety--& filling me with beautiful qualities, such as love, laughter, light, peace, joy, contentment, hope, & happiness.