I welcome you to read my story, Cancer to Crochet, to understand why these coping skills saved my life. These are not in order by preference, but they are my favorites. I invite you to comment any coping skills you use and recommend.
Every single day I periodically take little breaks to practice mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness is the single best coping skill I learned during the out-patient pain rehab program I attended. I practice it often because I enjoy it and I want to be good at the technique when stressful situations arise.
Mindfulness is wonderful when anxiety shows its stupid face.
Here’s an example of mindfulness in its most basic form:
The Five Senses Approach
- Close your eyes and remind yourself of the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing). Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your nose. Open your eyes.
- Sight: What is something you see in your immediate environment? Describe it to yourself. Is it colorful? What is the shape?
- Smell: What are some scents you smell? Is it floral or sweet? Is it strong or soft?
- Taste: Is there a taste in your mouth? Is it something you are eating? Is it toothpaste? Maybe it’s nothing.
- Touch: Touch something and describe it to yourself. Is it hard? Is it soft? Is it smooth?
- Hear: What do you hear? Do you hear birds chirping? Music?
- Once you have gone through all five senses, you will probably feel more relaxed. If not, go to another location if possible and repeat the technique. By focusing on your senses, your mind will be distracted from the anxious thoughts.
- Deep Breathing Techniques
My absolute favorite breathing exercise is Diaphragmatic Breathing, as described by Cleveland Clinic.
How many times have you been told to take a deep breath and you felt like slapping that person? Does it seem ridiculous to you? Well, I am here to tell you that it does work. You do need to practice to make it perfect.
A Hobby or Special Skill
Ahhh, crochet is the number one thing that distracts from the crap that is pain and depression/anxiety. Crochet may not be your thing, but find whatever it is and dive in deep. Learn as much as you can about that hobby or skill. Then, do it over and over again. Maybe you can start selling your made items or start providing your skill for other people.
This technique may not be a surprise to you. I was never really interested in yoga prior to attending the pain program, but I love it now. It’s not a technique I use daily, but I want to get back into the routine of doing it. There are thousands of YouTube videos, so find one you like. A gentle yoga would probably be best for chronic pain sufferers.
Meditation is not exactly the same as Mindfulness, though extremely similar.
I consider this a separate technique from Mindfulness because often times your thoughts aren’t focused on anything.
My favorite way to meditate is to repeatedly listen to a song, Weightless Part 1 by Marconi Union. It was scientifically shown to significantly reduce anxiety and calm the nervous system.
Exercise (Besides Yoga)
Exercise is nature’s natural antidepressant, but surely this isn’t the first time you are hearing this. Taking a simple walk or stretching when in severe pain can provide health benefits.
I know, it is my least favorite of the favorite techniques. Ha! However, sugar and simple carbs can exacerbate pain and increase mental illness symptoms. Try to limit them as much as possible. The end.
Whether it is family, one friend, or a group of people on social media, surround yourself with kind and empathetic people. Also, try to find people who are experiencing or have experienced your symptoms. No one wants to feel alone, so get support from people who care.
I’m a Christian, and I rely on my faith for many things. Whatever spirituality means to you, allow it to give you peace.
I absolutely agree with the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Life would be so boring without humor, so allow it to help heal you. Limit the amount of time you spend watching news and reading social media comments.
What are some things you do to cope with pain and/or illness? Have you tried any of the mentioned techniques? Did they help you?
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I wish you healing and happiness.