In some situations, no matter how hard we try, we aren't able to fix the mess we find ourselves in. When life throws problems our way our first reaction is to think something is wrong with us! Maybe that happened to me because I deserved it we say. Maybe I'm not good enough. The thoughts, the questions and the fears swirl around in our head and take over our focus and our time.
When you find yourself in the middle of a problem what do you do?? Are you able to stop and think of all your options or do you get lost in your emotions, thoughts and fears??
There are always options for you. However when lost in the emotions one cannot see her options and she can feel hopeless. Your options become easier to identify once you find the right coping strategy. If you’ve tried a number of problem-solving strategies and none of them have worked, it might be time to focus on developing some new positive coping strategies to help you deal with your situation.
Coping strategies can help you learn to accept situations that are beyond your control and find ways to help you feel better even if the problem still exists. When you develop coping strategies, you’re able to build resilience. You’re able to see things in a better perspective and you’ll feel much better about how you handled a certain situation. Being able to cope with things makes you a stronger person.
To develop positive coping strategies:
Challenge negative self-talk - Try to focus more on the positives about yourself rather than the negatives. The less you bring yourself down, the better you feel about yourself!! Try not to put yourself down all the time and don't talk bad about yourself to others.
Talk - Open up, whether it’s to a best friend, a close family member or a counselor, can be helpful. They may offer a new perspective or just a comforting response to help you through. If you feel uncomfortable talking to someone in person, you can also call a help line anonymously. There is always someone there to listen to you.
Journaling - Is another way to open up. Put all your thoughts on paper and then let them there. It's kind of like dumping your trash! Get it all out on paper. It's a great way to clean and clear your mind. Prayer works the same way. Give it all to God and let it there!
Breathe - A little relief can go a long way towards helping you reflect on your situation and what you can do for yourself. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and take deep slow breaths. Inhale to the count of 10 and exhale to the count of 10. Deep slow breaths can relieve anxiety and panic attacks.
Change your focus - Try not to spend all your time and energy thinking about your problem. This is where coloring comes in! Keep yourself occupied. Keeping busy can help lift your mood too.
I recall a story I recently read about a girl who had been sex-trafficked. We will call her Janie. When Janie was rescued and placed in a shelter where she could start healing she had a very difficult time because of all the trauma she had experienced. One of the first evenings in the shelter Janie was not doing well. Another young lady in the shelter noticed what was happening and decided to help in the best way she knew how... she started coloring with Janie.
Coloring is one of the many coping skills that are taught at the women's shelter where Janie had been taken. It can help you calm down and relax your mind and it was a favorite activity for the other young lady. As the two young women started coloring together things started improving throughout the evening. Everyone in the shelter was relieved because the coloring had worked so well!! They were thankful for the compassion of the other young lady, which led her to act on behalf of someone in need. Maybe that young lady saw a familiar pain when she witnessed her new housemate struggling and in that moment knew exactly what she needed.
Coloring didn’t solve Janie's heartbreak or release her from the trauma of her past in one fell swoop. However, coloring did keep her focused in the moment. She was able to engage in an activity that didn’t focus on her past or circumstances. In a difficult moment, rather than experience an emotional setback, she created beauty that she felt good about. Then the next day, she was in a better place emotionally to continue down the path of recovery.
So no matter what you are up against today coloring can help you change your focus. It can help you relax and calm your mind.
Some thoughts in this article are from "Taking Charge! A Guide for Teenagers: Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Hassles and Upsetting Emotions" ~by Dr. Sarah Edelman