If you missed Part 1, check it out.
To review: coping mechanisms (CMs) are responses. There is usually an underlying stressor that causes them.
So what should we do? We can’t control the adrenaline rush that comes with stress, but we can try to control our reactions through CMs. The first step is to recognize the stress. Recognize, then conquer.
It seems like the easiest CMs to develop are the unhealthy ones. These are the ones that don’t take as much effort, and the ones that offer instant gratification.
This is a food blog, so let’s take bingeing as an example of an unhealthy CM for stress. It’s easy, and food is pleasurable. If we can stop before the binge starts and recognize that it’s about to happen (even if it’s too hard to stop this time), that’s a start. Recognizing that it IS a binge, and not true hunger, is important. Think through the binge. How are you going to feel afterwards? Why is this happening now? What is the underlying problem? What is the real issue? What are we avoiding, and what is going on in our lives? Think, journal, and talk to someone. If the binge still happens, it happens. At least you acknowledged it.
We can use other positive CMs to replace the negative CMs. My mom likes to call these incompatible behaviors – can you binge while you’re knitting? Of course not. Can you binge while you’re walking on the treadmill? No. Know yourself, and know your hobbies. Think of things that you enjoy that you can use to replace the unhealthy behaviors.
My main causes of stress are anger and boredom. Restlessness leads to immense anxiety for me. Uncertainty is a trigger. Frustration, or struggling with something can both lead me to unhealthy CMs. You need to learn to address the underlying issue and fix it, instead of avoiding it with a (negative) CM.
So maybe you have actually attacked the underlying problem, but you’re still practicing whatever unhealthy CM that you had developed. At this point it’s probably just a habit. Habits are incredibly hard to break. But… you can use CMs to break them! (Ever read an article that says, “10 steps to break your _____ habit”? Those are usually just lists of CMs.)
I’ve been trying to evaluate my own CMs and this is what I’ve come up with: my CMs are all related and intertwined. I develop one CM (harmful or healthy), and then develop another to counter that, and then another, and another.
I think my recent boredom with yoga is coming from the fact that I’m in a completely new environment and, as an astute reader pointed out, “all of [my] routines have been disrupted. All of [my] coping mechanisms have changed. Now that [I am] in a new environment it will take a while to recover some of the old, and discover the new routines in [my] life.” Where would I be without you guys? I also loved this comment: “You may not feel it consciously, and they may all be changes for the better that you’re excited about, but your subconscious is probably feeling the anxiety all the same.” Even though I’m excited and happy for these changes, she’s absolutely right – changes (even good ones) cause anxiety for me.
What am I going to do about it? I’ll keep running and walking. I’ll do yoga stretches. I’ll write. I’ll read. I’ll listen to Jillian Michaels. I’ll call my mom and dad. I’ll lay in bed with Bobby and not fuss about missing my workout. I’ll keep eating my favorite foods. I’ll hug my cat. I’ll vacuum. I’ll do the laundry. I’ll dance like crazy to loud music. I’ll draw. I’ll bake. I’ll go shopping. My healthy coping mechanisms are my favorite parts of life.
(Speaking of baking and cooking - Shelby made my recipe! She’s made a few of my recipes actually. I love her blog. This girl is beautiful, creative, and inspiring!)
Yesterday’s exercise - 5.28 miles in 60 minutes. 30 minutes running (between 5.5 – 7.0 mph, 2-3%) and 30 minutes walking (3-6%). I broke it up, but I don’t remember exactly what I did. I alternated between walking and running, but did most of the running in the beginning.
Today – nothing yet! Probably a nice slow walk. And some shopping.
Need some more ideas? Here are some more suggestions from some Aardvarkers:
- “I’ve lost 100 pounds over the last 3 years. The thing that worked the best for me was having a workout and diet buddy and someone to go to for professional health questions.”
- “I think it’s important to know your limit. Know when you are stressed out and find the relief that you need – whether it be watching TV, going to a spa, or exercising.”
And a word of warning:
- “It pretty common for people to have something work for a while and then to have to try something else.”
What are your healthy Coping Mechanisms? (Optional: what are your unhealthy ones?)