Here are some more skills to add to your pandemic coping toolkit. I hope they are helpful to you and remember to always tailor skills to your unique needs. Not all of these skills will help you so make sure to try a few and figure out which ones work for you and which ones don’t.
As always, coping skills do not take the place of a mental health professional. If you are feeling the impulse to hurt yourself or someone else, please seek appropriate care and call either the suicide hotline or a local mental health professional that can help you.
Listing all the Things That Haven’t Changed
In a time where everything is changing, it can be comforting to remember that a lot of things haven’t changed. Try making a list of things that have remained the same in order to regain a sense of stability in a chaotic world.
For instance, the sun continues to rise and set. Colorado weather continues to be erratic and unpredictable. A full day is still 24 hours. Gravity still holds you to the earth. Math is the same and hasn’t changed. Snow melts. Winter becomes spring. Spring becomes summer. So on and so forth.
You can also make a more personalized list as well. Some of mine have been as follows.
Talking to friends still is one of my most cherished activities even if it’s online. My dog still smiles for me and wiggles uncontrollably when she hasn’t seen me for 10 minutes. If you move some needles and yarn together skillfully, you will get the most fabulous shawl you can dream of. I still have very intense musical performance anxiety but love to play the flute.
Thinking of these things can be grounding and also make us smile. The coronavirus has changed everything. But there are many things that haven’t changed, and I encourage you to spend some time remembering these things during this time.
Imagining You Are a Character from a Video Game or Book
This technique is a little bit borrowed from play therapy. I personally love video games. I mostly watch walkthroughs these days while I knit. However, I have found that sometimes imagining myself as one of the characters can be helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed by these seemingly apocalyptic events. Yes. For those of you who are curious, my character of choice is Alloy from Horizon Zero Dawn because she is a bad ass.
What can be helpful about this technique is that it can help you shift your perspective in a really creative way. You’re basically imagining what your favorite character would do if they were in your situation. But by imagining that you’re someone else, you might come up with a different solution than you would have before.
Keep in mind, I’m not encouraging violence or lawlessness here. I know many video games or other fictional realms are places where violence is normalized (yes, including in Horizon Zero Dawn). That’s not what I’m saying to do. It is never appropriate to physically hurt or attack someone unless it is in self-defense.
However, putting that aside, this can be a helpful skill with many creative ideas behind it if used appropriately. Stories are pure creativity and often come from the heart of adversity.
At the very least, you may feel validated and empathized with by your favorite character knowing that an author somewhere dreamed up this character for you to connect with in this very unique way!
These are a little bit more strange coping skills. They’re definitely off brand from what you might normally read. But we can never predict how a skill might help someone until they try it. So I encourage you to get creative with your skills and give it a shot!
Coping skills also don’t always help us feel better. However, they can sometimes help us think differently about our situation so that we can navigate it differently. As always, I hope these are helpful and stay tuned for more in the upcoming days and weeks!