A Grab Bag of Coping Skills by Helen Adrienne
A GRAB BAG OF COPING SKILLS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
By Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD
Coping can be thought of as learning to get out of your own way. We all get tossed around in life and we all form defenses which make it possible to live in our early environment. As we mature, we sometimes get stuck with learned patterns which resist change. Yet, when something as painful and demanding as infertility hits, we are called upon to adapt to an unwanted reality. And our coping styles may need to evolve to a level of sophistication that goes beyond what we have had at our disposal.
There are two other definitions of coping that suggest the kind of evolution that is demanded of us. One is the rounded tile that is used to give a bathroom or kitchen wall or a swimming pool a finished edge. And the other refers to the strips of fabric that go in between the sections of a quilt which help to make up for imperfections. Infertility leaves us feeling at a loss and suggests that there is something more that is needed to create a sense of wholeness.
The following is a compilation* of the various coping strategies from which you can choose. All strategies are more likely to be useable if you can discipline yourself to 1) stop when you feel overwrought, 2) take a breather and 3) refer to this list so as to decide what would work better for you than what you’re doing.
Change any of the following:
Family or work routine
Life style habits
Do any of the following:
Make a pro-con list
Notice stressors at home, at work, socially
Evaluate your needs
Exercise, yoga, tai chi (to feel physical strength and relax the body)
INVOLVING THE CONSCIOUS MIND
Exercise, yoga, tai chi (to release endorphins and relax the mind)
Learn relaxation techniques
Monitor thoughts to avoid being trapped in negativity
Reframe situation in a better light (how is the glass half-full?)
Release emotions into a journal
Recognize and release judgment
WHICH INTERVENE THROUGH THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND
Affirmations, positive self-talk
Guided imagery or hypnosis tapes
Music, Dance, Singing, Chanting, Drumming
Energy Healing such as Reiki
As you can see, there are many ways to break into the stress cycle. You may be able to recognize one or several approaches that resonate which you could be relieved to appropriate. Infertility is notorious for creating a need to think and feel clearly at the same time that it scrambles your brain. If infertility does anything universally, it leaves people feeling out of control. This list is designed to organize your options in a straight-forward way, giving you a fighting chance to feel mastery over these unwanted circumstances.
*The organization of this list is adapted from The Wellness Book by Herbert Benson, MD and Eileen Stuart, RN.
Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD