Healthy coping mechanisms

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Hey you lovely lot

How are you all doing this week?

From my blog last week, did you figure out who was gonna get a seat at your table?!

So, I’m finally in the last stages of pregnancy; just five more weeks to go and counting. 

The final few weeks for most pregnant women is really not a fun time; everything aches and your body feels so uncomfortable and heavy. 

On top of that, I have been struggling with severe pelvic girdle pain and now excessive amniotic fluid.  (Time to get the violin out).  My amazing physio has literally been holding me together with tape and acupuncture. 

I have had days where I’ve felt really low and have had such guilt about feeling like that.  I’m having a baby, a beautiful daughter and having suffered losses I know how incredibly fortunate I am to be having another baby. 

But at the same time I feel low because my body will not do what I want and need it to do. 

Before seeing my physio, a task as simple as trying to get out of bed and get down the stairs would leave me in tears because of the agonising pain. 

I feel sad that I can’t carry my little boy to bed anymore or get right down on the floor and play with him.  I had the same condition with my son and throughout both of my pregnancies I have realised just how much I take my usual able body for granted. 

I try to remember how incredibly fortunate I am that this pain slowly begins to wear off post pregnancy and that I can afford to see a physio to keep it at a manageable level. 

There are people in the world living with chronic and terminal conditions who are in constant pain and have no idea when or even whether their pain will end.  

When I am having a particularly challenging day I find myself thinking about things I would do if I could to make myself feel temporarily better; sitting in a bar drinking vodka with diet cokes and smoking roll ups. 

I believe that my brain thinks about that all of the time because alcohol and smoking are the cardinal signs of pregnancy and because I know I can’t have them, I want them even more!

This is despite the fact that I barely drank any alcohol prior to my pregnancy anyway. The roll ups are another story though ha ha. 

My brain finds the pain and limitations so difficult to tolerate sometimes that it drifts away to old coping mechanisms that I had before.

How I used to deal with things when something wasn’t going well was to go out with my friends and get utterly shitfaced, smoke copious amount of roll ups, find a random man to flirt with and dance until I could no longer feel my feet. 

It was such an incredible escape but the next day I still had the same problem as the night before, I just had a hangover to go with it.

On the contrary, in pregnancy I have had to lean heavily into my yin rather than my yang when it has come to healthy coping mechanisms. 

I love having a great big bubble bath (glazing over the fact that I need so much help getting in and out ha ha), listening to my favourite music to keep myself calm and relaxed, reading and eating my favourite foods.

I’m basking in all of the calm, sensual, self care style activities!

  

Looking back to before I was quite heavily into yang based coping mechanisms that definitely weren’t too healthy; my favourites included getting brain dead drunk as mentioned above, flirting when I was in a relationship, excessively strict eating and adopting the whole ‘all or nothing’ approach to a lot of things in my life. 

Basically I tried anything that involved not having to look at whatever was going on straight in the face so to speak. 

I think a lot of the time it was because I felt out of control; if something really stressful cropped up that I hadn’t experienced before or didn’t know how to handle I would feel out of my depth and try to find ways to escape rather than sit with the experience, hold the feeling and be kind to myself. 

It was almost like I punished myself and forced myself into some sort of action that avoided reality.  If I was drunk then I didn’t have to think about it, if I was flirting with a guy then I was getting attention, if I could get myself fitter and thinner then that would fix the problem. 

But of course, as we all know, it never does, it just makes us feel like we’re coping because we’ve turned our attention elsewhere; to us, we’re controlling something in the grand scheme of things.  

So how do we reprogramme our brains to find healthy coping mechanisms rather than the default ones? 

We have to begin! 

We have to tell our subconscious brain that we can survive this particular episode or incident and we can survive it in a different way.  

What do you really need in order to cope?  Deep dig.  Mine is often support from other people which I have always found hard to ask for. 

In order to cope better do you need something that you wouldn’t usually feel comfortable doing or asking for? 

Perhaps it’s putting the boundary in place and protecting your energy.  Perhaps it’s going for a long run and clearing your head.  Perhaps it is going for a night out with your friends and letting your hair down! 

Only you know if you’re able to stay on the right side of the line and not bury your head at the bottom of the bottle! 

The most important thing is that we actually have a coping mechanism that nourishes us and feels good to our system. 

Not one that involves running away, burying our head in the sand or making things potentially worse as a way of distraction.  


Putting a new habit into place can be hard; I read an article once that said it takes doing something approximately sixteen times before it becomes a habit which can be both good and bad! 

After that it becomes second nature.  In this life we are always going to experience stressors, difficult times and knockbacks, our ability to cope is paramount to our survival unfortunately.   

I have heard people in my life saying things like ‘i just can’t cope’ and that’s when bad things can happen; drink, drugs, etc.  people can be so willing to avoid hard things that they will go to any length. 

It really doesn’t help in the long run as each time the brain and the body don’t learn to take these stressors on and find a healthy way of coping, the default remains the same!  

For me, escaping is my go to; confrontation?  Avoid that, keep quiet.  Really worried about something? Keep it bottled up.  Find myself in a really stressful situation; silently scream inside ha ha. 

More often than not, some of the elements around a coping mechanism that we adopt are based on trust, as strange as that might sound.

In a previous long-term relationship, I was the one who sorted out everything and I mean everything. 

It meant that I had a pattern of just relying on myself and never confiding my problems. 

Because of my tendency to go and go and then suddenly drown my existence in vodka and sambuca shots, I didn’t always trust myself either. 

I needed to build up the belief in myself that I didn’t have to shoulder it all; I could speak to my friends and family, I could admit I was struggling and accept that vulnerability isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength.

And it took me a long time to believe that, and as I’ve said before, it’s still an area that I have to work on all of the time.  If I catch myself zipping everything up, I purposefully pull down that zipper and start to let the steam escape.  

What ways do you currently cope? Are you a bottler? Perhaps you’re a bit of a zipper like me!

If you think the way you cope is unhealthy what’s one step you could take to coping better? Tell me in the comments!


Until next week, stay healthy!

Much love

Lu x

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