The Art of Coping

The word “coping” is often defined as dealing successfully with something stressful. Some of my friends think it means just the opposite …. dealing UNsuccessfully with a bad situation. Some think coping is limited to drinking, smoking, acting out, excessive retail therapy, overeating, isolating, being angry and lashing out as well as other negative activities. People often use such “coping mechanisms” or techniques to get through not only bad situations, but life in general.

There are lots of coping alternatives to the negative ones listed above. Last year I started coloring as a means of coping with my own stress and anxiety. Yup, coloring in a coloring book … within the lines (for the most part) … using colored pens. I can’t tell you how peaceful it is to color, even when I go outside the lines. This is one of my newest coping mechanisms, and I love it!

Meditation, prayer, talking with a friend and/or spouse and spending time in nature are my other “go to” ways to cope.  Here are some equally positive methods of dealing successfully with unpleasant situations that you may not have thought about:

  • Spend time with a child – either a family member or neighbor
  • Pop or stomp on bubble-wrap
  • Go to a pet store or a toy store
  • Hug people, animals, trees … or whatever
  • Donate some clothes to charity
  • Go to a movie by yourself
  • Call an old friend
  • Spend time with your pet
  • Count and roll loose change
  • Listen to music that calms you
  • Think of advice you’d give someone else … and take it!
  • Rock in a rocking chair
  • Dance
  • Reach out to others through contact – don’t isolate yourself.

Next time you need to cope, try one or more of the above. And check out the Holmes and Rahe Stress Inventory in case you need a reminder of some of the major events in life that call upon us to cope successfully.