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  • Writer's pictureClara Morgan

How to Make a Coping Toolbox

Get through the darkness.

"We all have moments when we feel highly stressed or anxious. We feel deep regret, shame, or depression, and just sitting with ourselves in that moment can be painful. We pace, we drink, we eat junk food, we lie in bed, we cry. A coping toolbox is a collection of strategies you can use to help you get through."

Make a detailed list of all the unique things you personally do in life to get through when life is tough. Write them on a paper and put them on your fridge or bathroom mirror. That way, when you need to feel better but can’t remember what to do because you are overwhelmed by distress, you can turn to the list and find something suited to your current struggle. Then, follow up with as many items as you need to feel better.

Some examples, which you can add to your own list if you choose, are:

  • Taking 10 slow, calm breaths

  • Lighting wax or battery-operated candles

  • An activity for distraction, like watching a favourite movie, doing a crossword, or knitting. Keep a crossword book, some yarn and knitting needles, or a DVD around just for that purpose.

  • Friends or family to call for support -- make sure you have their phone numbers

  • A crisis line number (I suggest 310-6789 -- no area code required)

  • Your sensory kit (see sensory article)

  • A colouring books for grown-ups and felts/pencil crayons

  • Taking a drive (safely)

  • Cooking or baking

  • Cleaning/scrubbing/organizing

  • Sleeping or resting in bed

  • Talking the problem out with a friend

  • Having a bubble bath

  • Having a cup of tea

  • Watching your children while they sleep

  • Writing your stress out on paper, and then crumpling/tearing it up

  • Planning out a difficult conversation in advance, on paper instead of just in your head

  • Using a CBT thought record (if you’ve learned that before)

  • Petting your cat or dog

  • Write a letter to someone you love, telling them that they are loved (even someone who has passed away)

  • Exercise

  • Taking a walk

  • Eating healthier food

  • Getting more sleep

  • Yoga (or anything that makes you feel spiritual even if you don’t practice a faith)

  • Practicing your faith or a prayer

  • Art or creative practice

  • Meditation – see article on meditation

  • Watch your favourite funny or touching YouTube videos (you can make a list of your favourites for future reference)

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