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What's Inside My Coping ‘Toolbox’ on a Bad Day

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On a bad day, it’s easy to just stay in bed, cocooned in my blankets with the shades drawn and Netflix on.

My ultimate goal on a bad day is to turn it around and feel better. I do this by using a variety of coping skills I’ve either taught myself or learned in therapy. I’ve compiled all of my favorite coping mechanisms into a sort of “toolbox” that I pull out on a bad day.

The first thing I reach for when I’m having a difficult time is something that will help me get out of bed. Most of the time, it’s my daughter or my cat or anything I’m responsible for that I can’t take care of from my bedroom. Knowing someone or something depends on me motivates me to get out of bed on a bad day and helps me cope with feeling worthless.

After I’ve gotten out of bed, I search my toolbox for something that will lift my spirits and encourage me to then stay out of bed. I can choose from journaling, coloring, knitting, playing with my daughter or reading a book. Even if none of those things pang my interest at first, I pick one and go with it until I feel enjoyment.

When I’ve begun to establish a routine for the day, one of the most important components I find in my coping toolbox is self-care. This includes eating healthy meals, drinking plenty of water, exercise, taking a shower and getting dressed. I know in order to feel better, I have to take care of my body even if I don’t feel like I want to. I know that after I take care of myself, I will feel more put together and my self-esteem will have gotten a healthy boost. And I will feel better equipped to take on the day.

Another thing I reach for in my coping toolbox is socialization. On my bad days, I tend to isolate myself from my friends and my family — and even my daughter. In the back of my mind, I know this isn’t healthy, and I know a little bit of socialization will make me feel more alive and more loved than I feel on a bad day. I cope by being social in simple ways like going to the grocery store, having lunch with my mom, calling my grandma or by taking my daughter to the park. Any small social encounter may seem daunting and may trigger my anxiety at first, but once I get into it, I realize I’m feeling better.

Feeling better is my ultimate goal on a bad day. To achieve this goal, I remind myself of all the coping mechanisms that work best for me and do each of them until my bad day turns into a good one. There are times that coping even seems like too much, and those are the days I take for myself to stay in bed and rest. Having those days is OK every once in awhile, but it’s really important I learn how to cope effectively through the majority of my bad days.

It took me quite awhile to acquire the coping skills I have in my toolbox, and it took me even longer to gain the motivation to use them on a bad day. But when I do, I feel better about things and am able to turn my day around.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: August 15, 2016
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