If you have been following along then you know I quit my job, moved to the city, and have been coping with all of feelings involved in making a huge life change.
About a month ago, my boyfriend asked me a very important question about coping skills. As in, what are some coping skills you have to deal with these feelings? Because, SURPRISE, I’m not dating a therapist. I have to give him credit, because he and my family have been super supportive in this journey, and unfortunately for them, they have to hear the worst of it.
In the past, “working” was a way to cope with life. I have always been a hard worker and a fast learner, but with no job, it’s easy to feel a loss of purpose and identity. AND the no-money thing on top of it all, in a word, suuuuucks.
So when I couldn’t answer the coping skills question with anything substantial, I made an appointment with my therapist.
Full disclosure, I’ve suffered from mental health issues for the past decade, and thankfully, I have a trusting relationship with my therapist. It takes time and work, like anything else, but it is important, not just for me, but also for the people in my life who are NOT actually qualified to deal with depression and anxiety. They do try their best, but IT TAKES A VILLAGE, PEOPLE.
So here are some coping skills that may help you, because they helped me!
I genuinely love healthy foods, but it is so easy to eat your junk feelings. Pay attention to your body – what goes in AND what comes out. When I started listening to my body, I was able to make connections between the food I was eating and how it affected my mood. PLUS making your own meals is a great way to feel as though you are in control. AND THEN YOU GET TO EAT IT.
You hate it. MOST people hate it. But exercise is SO important. A good friend once said to me, “Don’t let the perfect workout get in the way of ANY workout.” I live by this. Any physical activity you do is better than nothing. Taking the stairs, going for a walk, doing ten jumping jacks in your bedroom, it all counts. And you can start today! Plus there are countless options online if you don’t have the coin to get a gym membership or join a team.
This gets its own category because I AM OBSESSED with yoga. I have been practicing for almost two years, and one of the things I love about it is that yoga doesn’t ask anything of you. It’s simply a practice. YOUR practice. And that can look and feel however you want it to. The time you give to yourself to be on your mat is yours. Being in tune with your body, your breath and your soul can have magical results. And guess what? I practice almost every day for FREE because I’m part of an energy exchange program. I’ve got the time; I just don’t have the money.
I think it’s more often referred to as compartmentalization, but this has helped me immensely as of late. If something’s bugging you and you don’t have the capacity to deal with it right away, recognize it, and then give it a future appointment. “I can’t deal with this right now, so TOMORROW AT 5 PM IT WILL BE DEALT WITH.” Then when tomorrow at 5 rolls around, deal with it. If you’re more visual, then picture yourself dealing with it. If it’s just a nagging feeling that doesn’t have a real solution, imagine locking it in a box, and dropping that box in the middle of the ocean! There. Done.
When was the last time you took a FULL breath and actually thought about it? We breathe all the time, because if we didn’t, we’d be dead. But we are on autopilot so often that becoming aware of your breath can do wonders. Feel the breath filling your lungs, your chest, your belly, and then feel the exhale warm your upper lip. Give your breath a colour and visualize it. Hey, it might sound stupid, but WHO CARES? Breathing is cool.
Be your own director
Your life is a movie and you have the power to zoom in and out, pan back and forth, adjust focus, and even change the outcome. If life seems too overwhelming, zoom in on something you can control. If you’re hyperfocusing on one problem, zoom out and look at the big picture. If you’re feeling like a villain, change the perspective. Annnnnnd action!
Do you hear that?
Think of five things you can hear RIGHT NOW. A bird, a conversation, the rattling of the window as a truck passes by, a child crying, your own heart beating. Really focusing on those things around you will force you to shift focus, even if it’s for a minute.
Sometimes I just walk around with my headphones on with absolutely nothing playing, because I can and because it brings a sense of controlled peace.
Be like Rihanna
Work, work, work, work, work. And yes, sometimes it’ll be for free, but the takeaway will be experience. Stay sharp, stay ready, and opportunities will present themselves. And when it’s time, bitch better have my money.
I will leave you with this smorgasbord of quotes: Life is hard. Things get better. Then they might get worse. Then you learn. Then you grow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if you want something different, you have to do something different. I would be lying if I said that life was perfect now, or that leaving my job hasn’t presented new problems for me, but life is what you make it, so make it yours.
Dani Stover just moved back to Toronto after five years in Peterborough where she was working her dream job as a morning radio host. Besides getting up super early every morning to talk on the radio, Stover also produced and hosted the web series Bandwagon and a DIY series The Basic Girls’ Guide. She also spearheaded the first-ever PTBO PAD PARTY, which raised menstrual products for women in need. After quitting her job and coming back to the big city, Stover has hit the restart button on her life.