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Just cope with it…

Many of us can generally describe ourselves as mentally healthy, resilient and happy. Throughout life, you have experienced different seasons from which you have grown and learned valuable, life-impacting lessons. Over the years, you have mastered the art of problem-solving in various situations and have been able to cope with the all too familiar demands of the 21st century. However, every now and then we experience a new problem or something difficult that we need to cope with – and now seems to be that time again.

Before we are able to learn from our challenges and the adversity that we face, we first need to cope. By coping we are able to make sense of a situation and we are able to find meaning in it. Then we can we grow towards resilience. At the moment, we find ourselves in the coping phase of Covid-19, characterized by uncertainty and chaos as nations and governments try to find solutions for a range of different and unique problems.

Coping takes many different shapes and forms and can look very different for different people. It is something that we can do consciously or it is something that we do simply without thinking. So, what does coping actually look like and am I doing it right?

Coping may mean that when you are stressed, you go for a run to sweat out some frustration. Coping could be calling a friend when you need some encouragement, borrowed hope or needed wisdom. Coping could even mean buying every type of chocolate in the shopping aisle and snacking on it while watching a classic Hallmark movie or staring into the great abyss while contemplating different strategies to overcome the challenges that still lie ahead.

There is no right or wrong way to cope during a pandemic. Whether you are binging on chocolate or going for a run – there is no judgement here. Needless to say, some coping techniques and behaviours are healthier than others. Coping techniques can be positive or negative and it is important to be aware of the ways you cope to make sure you are engaging in healthy patterns of behaviour and promoting resilience for you and your family.

Below, you will find a master list of coping methods and skills. These methods and skills are organized into different categories (Flannery, 2016). No matter what you need in a given moment, there is probably at least one activity listed below that will help.

1. Diversions – these are coping activities which help take your mind off of the current situation. Diversions can be explained as positive and productive distractions.

  • Spend time in your hobbies;

  • Watch TV, series or a movie;

  • Play games;

  • Clean or organize your environment;

  • Read;

  • Try new recipes in the kitchen.

2. Social/Interpersonal Coping – people are important even when social distancing!

  • Write a note to someone you care about;

  • Spend quality time with your partner and kids;

  • Organise a zoom group chat with your besties;

  • Serve someone in need;

  • Care for or play with a pet;

  • Encourage others;

  • Use humour.

3. Cognitive Coping – your thoughts can be a powerful tool in this time! Cognitive coping is a strategy in which you use mental activities to manage a stressful event or situation.

  • Make a gratitude list;

  • Keep an inspirational quote with you;

  • Be flexible;

  • Write a list of goals;

  • Take an online class/course;

  • Write a list of strengths.

4. Tension Releasers – assists the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma, helping you feel better and more in control.

  • Exercise or play sports (may mean getting creative);

  • Engage in catharsis (yelling in the bathroom, punching a punching bag – just remember to do this in a safe space);

  • Cry, laugh – feel all of your emotions.

5. Physical

  • Get enough sleep;

  • Eat healthy foods;

  • Set and get into a good routine;

  • Limit caffeine (this one is a little hard for us all);

  • Practice deep/slow breathing;

  • Eat a little chocolate (yes please!).

6. Spiritual

  • Pray or meditate;

  • Practice Mindfulness;

  • Enjoy nature (go on an online game drive or listen to the birds outside);

  • Get involved in a worthy cause online.

7. Limit-Setting – Knowing there are limits to your behaviours, this helps you to feel safe and make appropriate decisions and choices.

  • Drop some involvement (you can’t do everything);

  • Prioritize important tasks;

  • Schedule time for yourself.

We hope that you are able to use the list above to develop coping habits that contribute positively to your wellbeing. If you find this difficult or you are not quite sure how to implement them, send us an email and we can help. Stay safe and know that you have a community of people here at your disposal.

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