Coping with mental illness can be hard to do some days. So I have made a list of words/coping mechanisms that will get you through the day. Just remember to breathe and take this journey of ours one step at a time!
Altruism – Helping others to help yourself. Donating blood has always made me feel great about myself. Last winter my wife and I helped at a homeless warming shelter for a couple of nights, you can never replace the feeling of assisting another person.
Behavioral Mechanisms – Changing what you do in order to better yourself. Behavioral Mechanisms can be positive or negative depending on how you act on a trigger. People who see the world in a positive light will note that when in a stressful situation they tend to cry or put a lot of effort into their recovery by changing the way they behave during or after a traumatic event.
Crying – The release of tears to seek comfort, relaxation, and cope. Anyone who tells you that strong people don’t cry is full of themselves. Crying releases special hormones called cortisol which will assist in your stress levels. Personally, I have had a good cry when life stresses me out. Give yourself permission to cry!
Delegate – Entrust another person to do a task to lighten your stress levels. There is nothing wrong with asking for help during times of stress. In a marriage/relationship, it is key to delegate certain chores or tasks so that you don’t end up doing everything in the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, delegating isn’t the same thing as being a controlling person. Asking your spouse or loved one to help you during your time of need is crucial and should allow your spouse to help in your time of need. You never know when you will need to return the favor, from personal experience.
Express – Telling others how you feel in a safe environment. Expressing oneself is key to getting stress off of your chest. The only advise I can give for expressing yourself is to make sure to do it in a respectful way and do it with people that actually care about your wellbeing. Venting can make you feel great at the moment, but positively expressing yourself can create bonds with your social circle.
Fun – An act that is fun, amusing or downright enjoyable to yourself. Having fun is one of the better coping mechanisms. Personally, I enjoy playing my PlayStation or listening to bluegrass music when I need to undo the stressors on my life. Find something that brings you joy such as knitting, walking, playing with your animal, watching Netflix or journaling. Blogging is a form of journaling for myself because I am able to put research into posts.
Grow – Developing over time in a positive light by setting goals and ambitions. With chronic depression and cerebral palsy, I find it hard to grow unless I make goals that are specific to myself. Setting goals is an important part of recovery from mental illness. DO NOT set a goal that is unreachable or simply to complex. Saying that you will not be mentally ill is not a goal, but a pipe dream. Tend to stick to simple goals that you can actually feel or see such as: Getting a certain grade in that physics class, write down a positive thought in your journal, make someone smile every other day or take a warm bath after work every day.
Help – Appealing to your fellow human for assistance. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help in a time of need! Absolutely ask your friends or family for assistance in your time of need. Do remember to return the favor later on in your life because you never know what bonds you will make with those you love. Helping others is similar to Altruism, as you get the benefit of reciprocal assistance later on!
Interaction – Acting in a way that will have an effect on another person. Interacting with others can help in a time of need. Talking to a counselor, therapist or doctor about your problems can feel scary, but it needs to be done when you are in a time of need. Reaching out can literally be the difference between life or death in some cases. Interacting with your friends can also assist in de-escalating a situation, sometimes talking it out will allow you to put the bad situation to a rest. When I feel stressed, I enjoy going out into the community and interacting with others.
Journaling – Writing down your thoughts on some form of media. This blog is a form of journaling for myself. We do have others who will be journaling here in the future and I do firmly believe that journaling has helped me in the past. When you are able to write down what happened in your life, it allows that information to stay on that page. The reason why I tend to do digital journaling now instead of writing them down is I lost my first two journals – Oops. Writing down your thoughts can sometimes feel rewarding too! (Update 02/25/18: I did end up finding my journals!!!!!)
Kindness – Being friendly, kind and considerate. Being kind is important, but the most important aspect of kindness is being kind to yourself. There are times in my life that I have had to be kind to myself looking in the mirror. Once I was told that when I grow my beard that I look like a monkey, I actually agree. Embracing that humor for me was the difference between going into a mental health episode and just internally laughing at the elderly lady who was just trying to have fun too. Being kind to others is important too, you don’t want to push your friends away. Keeping a positive outlook on life can be the difference between destruction and building bridges in life.
Learn – The act of gaining knowledge, skill or trait by studying. Having three degrees now, in my life, I have learned that by studying for a topic it can make you better at that topic. Mental illness is tricky, you might not be able to learn without coping mechanisms. Once you have great coping mechanisms for your emotional struggles you can officially say that you learned something. We constantly learn through our lives, this is a positive. Those who are doomed inside of their heads need to attempt to get out of their brain, this is one of the main reasons I write this blog. I graduate with another degree soon, continuing my education is one of my most important coping mechanisms.
Meditate – Thinking deeply or focusing one’s attention away from the mind for a period of time. Some people meditate by listening to music right before bed. Others can meditate with their eyes close in a warm bathtub at the end of a long day. Having done meditation for most of my adult life, I can personally say that it is rewarding to block everything out for a predetermined period of time.
Nurture – Care for and encourage growth. Self-care is important, how long has it been since you pampered yourself? How long has it been since you took an extra 5 minutes in the shower to let your problems go down the drain? Have you been able to do the things that take care of yourself? I can honestly say when I get depressed I don’t shower for months at a time, that first shower afterward is like releasing a pressure valve. Caring for your health is more important than anything in this world. There is nothing wrong with nurturing others, but make sure you don’t make the mistake of only nurturing others.
Openminded – Willingness to consider or try new ideas. Keeping an open mind to things can help in recovery due to the fact that you will try new things. Sometimes it breaks a norm to try a new food, you will not focus on that new food’s taste instead of your life. Keeping an open mind can also help in your recovery see those who have a hard time in life due to their beliefs. Transgender, Atheists, Muslims and even those who suffer from a mental illness can be discriminated against by society. That is why I am positive about mental illness, without it I would not be the person I am today. Quite frankly I was able to find more doors that opened than closed with my diagnosis.
Play – Take part in. Going back to the fun, it is important to enjoy yourself. Taking part in activities in life can be an important part of our recoveries. For example, I take part in activities such as; Theater, politics, volunteerism, hiking, driving, video games, community, and online blogging! Take part in your life, don’t waste away. When a condition becomes a severe mental illness is when you give up hope. Instead of giving up hope, take part in your life to your fullest capabilities.
Quiet – An environment with little to no noise. In real life, it is hard to find a quiet time for us to digest the day’s activities. It may be at 2 A.M. when you are able to finally take a quiet moment to internalize the day. Personally, I find it a great opportunity to find a quiet time when you are in a stressful situation. Laying in my bed and just staring at the ceiling can help me, with quiet I can help myself think without disruption.
Relax – To become less tense. Sinking into my bed is a way to relax. Taking a long warm bath with Epsom salts is another way to relax. Relaxing is a way to give your body a break from the illness. Having that moment when you are able to just lie back and allow your body a chance to recharge is rewarding.
Sleep – Consciousness suspended for a period of time. Lack of sleep is one of the main causes of mental illness for myself. If I can’t get a good night’s rest then I have troubles the next couple of days, struggling with side-effects from lack of sleep. Sleeping can be impossible for some, but I find that letting my brain shut of naturally is better than trying to abuse alcohol and drugs to sleep. Sleeping naturally is leaps and bounds better than trying to medicate into it, but sometimes you have to use your sleeping meds to doze off. Even I have – gasp – a sleeping medicine that is PRN, I try to sleep naturally but if I am up at the butt crack of dawn for a couple of nights in a row, I need to reset my sleeping pattern.
Talk – The act of speaking. Talking to someone is key to your recovery, you can’t do it all by yourself. Personally, it isn’t enjoyable to talk out your feelings. I never enjoy talking about how I feel because it is embarrassing, but I have found that if I own my medical illnesses, I can become a better person. Talking can also diffuse a situation from becoming ugly.
Unwind – Relaxing after a period of working. Unwinding is important, even if you are not being paid to work. No matter if you work 60 hours a week or on disability full time, mental illness is a hassle that can seem overwhelming some days. When one unwinds they are able to take the stress of the day and focus on winding down to sleep. Personally, I enjoy getting home from work and doing something that does not work for the next 15 – 30 minutes to try to wrap up the workday.
Venting – Letting all your emotions come out in form of speaking or discussion. In a positive way, venting can get all of your problems off of your chest, but be warned that there are some people that do not understand the benefits of venting. Getting a problem off of your chest will help in the long run.
Walking – The act of moving with both legs. Personally, I enjoy pacing around as a coping mechanism. Pacing does not harm a thing, except maybe my shoes. Pacing has been a part of my life since I have been able to walk. I even rehearse my lines for theatrical productions while pacing! Taking those strides have helped me in my life.
Xanax – For the purpose of this list, medication. Yes, I have been positive about not using medication as a coping mechanism thus far. Don’t be ashamed of having to take your meds for your issues, the medication is there for a reason. Xanax is a perfect example due to a reason that is rather embarrassing, there aren’t many words that begin with X that are positive or relate to mental illness at all! Personally, I do have some PRNs that I can take if am having a rough time. My main PRN is my sleeping medicine, which is also prescribed for depression and anxiety in some cases.
Yoga – Exercises and stretches using poses. From downward dog to child’s pose, you can stretch yourself into a positive light. See Meditation for corpse pose and you have a recipe for success in your mental illness recovery. Personally, I struggle with yoga with my cerebral palsy, but I have found that setting goals help a lot.
Zone – A period of successful feeling or determination. Personally, I am in a zone right now, I feel successful because I have found words that begin with all the letters in the alphabet and I can also say that I am having my own “Rocky” moment as I type. Have you ever been in the zone when mentally ill? It feels great, some people get into the zone when they are manic, others get in the zone when they have a lot of energy building up.
Thanks for reading all of the words/coping mechanisms for mental illness I was able to come up with A-Z. Remember that these are all suggestions, go find your own way of coping with the illness and have a great rest of your week!
– Tommi Asylum