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Learning Coping Mechanisms

Sometimes the Struggle is a Daily Battle

postit notes

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. I started therapy a few years ago and it was the best thing I could do for my mental health. I learned some important coping mechanisms, as well as how to apply them into my routine (I’d waited until I was out of spoons to get help).

I was in a really rough space. Joining this group for the podcast Is This Adulting? was also a great way to get support and talk to people going through similar things. Some helpful coping mechanisms I learned were daily affirmations, writing a list, a letter, and learning when to say no.

Make it a Daily Thing

Starting daily affirmations seemed so ridiculous to me that I rolled my eyes when my therapist announced that my homework was to start writing them down periodically throughout the day. I didn’t realize until I got home just how hard that was. I started googling, and dived into Pinterest trying to find affirmations that I could even say “oh, I can relate to that a little.”

I picked out ones that I could say aloud, wrote them on sticky notes and stuck them around my house in places that I always have a chance to look at.  I read one when I brushed my teeth or opened the cabinet door. Eventually some of the negative thoughts became just a bit more quiet. I struggle with low self-esteem, so while these affirmations were helping a little bit, I needed something different.

writing

Write it Out

My therapist suggested that I write a list of all the negative things I was thinking, but I had to write five positives for each negative. I laughed. I did not think it would be so hard, but in a good way. I only had three negatives when I couldn’t think of anything else. I was too busy thinking about the things I like about me- even if one was “I like my eyes.” It counts.  

I also had to write a letter. The letter was the most taxing. People used to always tell me “just write it down” no matter what I was feeling, but I didn’t want to write about the thing that triggers my anxiety. I ignored it until the very last day before I went into therapy. I wrote five pages.

You just write about how you feel about someone or something.  You don’t have to do anything with it.

I burned mine, it was symbolic. I was no longer just pushing all the bad memories down. I faced them head on, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t affect me. It just helped direct some of that negative energy that I felt towards something.

The Constant Struggle

Part of my anxiety makes me think that everyone will hate me or I’ll get fired from a job if I do or say something wrong…or even turn down a promotion. My anxiety convinces me to stay home, my depression convinces me to stay in bed. Every day there are life stressors that trigger my negative thoughts.

Learning when to say no or yes is a constant struggle. When my depression hits and I just want to stay in bed wrapped in my blankets like a burrito, I have to remind myself to say “yes” even if it’s just the thought of “maybe I should shower.” Yes, get up and shower. Get out of bed. Even if you didn’t go out, at least you got out of bed and showered today. There are no zero days. Say no to things that cause you to have more stress. These small coping mechanisms eventually become habit and the bad days aren’t as rough as they could be.

Najla Abuahmad

A few words about me

Najla Abuahmad is an avid listener originally from North Carolina. Fan of all things that help end the stigma against mental health.