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DEVELOPING HEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS : PART 1

DEVELOPING HEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS : PART 1

This is the transcript of Live the 8Wise™ Way Podcast.

Episode Thirty-Three:

Developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Part 1

Hello and welcome everybody to the Live the 8WiseTM Way podcast with me, Kim Rutherford, Psychotherapist, author, and the person who created the 8WiseTM method for better mental health and wellbeing. How are you? How is January treating you? Have you got yourself back into a good flow and a good pattern and a good set of routines for your year ahead? Note I am not saying New Year resolutions. If you want to do them, by all means go ahead and do them, but I don’t think the New Year should be just focused on them.

A lot of the time we just spend living our life over the Christmas and New Year in the festive period, it just takes us so far out of our routine life can start to feel a little bit chaotic when we then head back into it in January or is that just me? I know for me, definitely this last past week, getting myself back into it was a little bit difficult. Not because I was worried about it or stressed about it, because I was really looking forward to getting back into a routine. I think what happens to me, and this might just be me in my head, I go, okay, January, I’ve got to hit the ground running because I might have just taken a couple of weeks off so that I could spend some quality time with my family, specifically with my sister and my husband. So, I took a couple of weeks off and so for me I was like, right January, I’ve got to hit the ground running and do some catch up and that in itself created a little bit of chaos for me and I felt it a little bit on the weekend and in the end I made the decision that I needed to back off on the weekend and I didn’t do as much as I was going to, I had these big social plans and things like that, and I was like, no, actually what I need to do is just spend some quality time with me at home, with my husband sorting our lives out, sorting our house out, clearing up, tidying up, and decluttering because when you declutter your environment, it helps you declutter your mind. And that is one of the coping skills that I use.

Which brings me to where we are at with this podcast. So for the next few episode, I want us to be focusing on developing healthy coping mechanisms. So this time around, you’re not going to just be hearing from me, you will also be hearing from a wide range of special guests that also deliver different types of activities, different types of techniques, that you can use and you can embed into your own self-care routines to help you develop coping mechanisms.

Now, you might be listening to this going, what on earth is she rambling on about? What is she talking about when it comes to coping mechanisms? What I want you to think about is the concept of coping skills. These are the tactics that we tend to use to deal with stressful situations in our life. So, if we are trying to manage our stress well, and I can’t say it enough during this podcast, to Live the 8WiseTM Way effectively you really do need to learn to manage your stress well, developing really good coping skills helps you to feel better, which means it improves your wellness, it improves your wellbeing and has a really good positive impact on how you perform in all of your different areas of your life. So, ultimately, you can say it as if you develop better coping skills or coping mechanisms to manage the stress in your life, it enhances what I would call your 8WiseTM spectrum and therefore, not only will you have better mental health and wellbeing, you’ll also improve the quality of your life as well. So, they are really, really important.

Now, the reality of coping mechanisms is that we can have both because you, let’s use the simple language we can use, we can have both good coping mechanisms and bad coping mechanisms, or I like to think of them as functional coping mechanisms and dysfunctional coping mechanisms. Now, when we talk about functional, we’re really looking at healthy coping skills and to give you an idea of what I mean when I say this, think of things like establishing and maintaining boundaries. Boundaries are crucial for good self-esteem, good self-care, and therefore are really, really good as a solid coping skill or coping mechanism for you to have to manage your stress in everyday life. Other ones also include practicing relaxation strategies, so deep breathing and good breath work, which I’m going to be introducing you to a colleague of mine called Joel who is amazing when it comes to breath work.

We’re also going to be talking about meditation and mindfulness again. I’m going to have an amazing colleague of mine called Claire. She’s going to come on, she’s an absolute genius when it comes to using meditation and also using yoga and the full concept of yoga into everyday life, which also embeds mindfulness as well. So that’s another really healthy coping skill for you to have.

Getting regular physical exercise and activity. So, this isn’t about exercising necessarily for fitness or being ripped, or all of that kind of stuff that we hear about at this time of the year, but this is about mobility. This is about having a level of fitness and mobility that keeps your body healthy and functioning and moving because, as they say, if you do not use it you will lose it. And the one thing we don’t want to be able to lose in life is our ability to function physically and also setting goals and achieving things. They are also coping skills because they’re good organizational coping skills, they’re good time management coping skills. They’re good ways of helping us move forward in our lives and managing the chaos and the busy things we have to do every day. And when we feel that we’re in control of those areas, it actually reduces the stress that we feel.

So ultimately, like I said, there are problem coping mechanisms as well, and I’ve talked about this in previous podcasts, some of what I call the more dysfunctional coping mechanisms. For me, for example, were coping mechanisms such as eating, eating away my emotions so when I’m feeling stressed, I eat instead and that led to obesity. For other people, they’re coping mechanism might be alcohol, an excessive alcohol intake and a reliance on alcohol to manage your stress can then lead to alcoholism. It’s the same with drug issues. People who rely on drugs to help them to cope with their day-to-day stresses, excessive use of drugs can lead to some form of drug abuse and drug addiction.

So that is a little bit of a guide on what dysfunctional coping mechanisms might be as well, some of the harder hitting ones. But there are some more slightly softer ones, having zero barriers in place, saying yes to everybody, trying to people please, for example, that’s a coping mechanism, especially when we don’t want to have any form of confrontation, we tend to give in to everybody. Having zero barriers in place and then saying yes to everybody, burning ourselves out, or leaving us in this position where we’re taken for granted. We are over promising, we’re filling up all of our time, and before you know, we’re really, really, really stressed. So, it is really important that we develop healthy coping mechanisms so that our life is healthier, happy, and more fulfilling. That also then has a major impact on our mind. A healthier, happier mind leads to a better quality of life so it is really important to be able to understand what a healthy coping mechanism is and what isn’t a healthy coping mechanism and what I would say for you right now, especially if you’ve got a pen and paper there, just take a moment to think about that. Sit down with a pen and paper and maybe write down all the ways that you cope with stress. Write them all down. It might be that you have a glass of wine, no hard ship in that, I’m not going to say anything bad about that, we’ve all been there, done that. It might be that you partake in recreational drugs. It might be that you do all of those things. It might be that you just choose to switch off and not speak to anybody for days. Your choice, however you do it, but I want you to write that list down and I want you to be really, really honest with yourself and say, do these benefit my life? Do they really help me long term? Do they really teach me to cope with the stress that I’m feeling? Do they really help me problem solve the issues that are triggering my stress, or do they just numb me in the moment?

If your coping mechanisms are coping mechanisms that just numb you in the moment, that don’t necessarily problem solve, that don’t necessarily help build resilience, that don’t necessarily help you develop the skills to overcome the emotional burden that you are feeling from whatever you are experiencing at that time, then you have to accept that you are choosing dysfunctional or unhealthy coping mechanisms and you want to start looking at how you can make them better or you can change them by developing healthier coping mechanisms. And, as I said, the next few episodes of the podcast will hopefully be able to help you find different ways that work for you that you can implement into your life as part of your self-care routine helping you Live the 8WiseTM Way for a healthier, happier mind, okay.

So, when we talk about problem solving, we need to really be thinking at problem-based coping skills so either problem-based coping skills or emotional-based coping skills. And these two different types of coping skills are important because what they are talking about, these are the ones that talk about overcoming things, working through things, moving forward from them. So, problem-based coping skills, these are helpful when you need to change your situation, so perhaps you need to remove stressful things from your life, you want to change the situation you’re in. So, for example, of problem-based coping mechanisms or problem-based coping in general, we’re looking at the things that are going to help you if you are feeling anxious if you might be in an unhealthy relationship, whether you’ve got unresolved situations. So, you are looking at the problem-based coping mechanisms. Are there coping skills to bring into play when you might be experiencing those types of things when you are in situations that need to change, that need to help you moving forward?

Slightly different to that is your emotion-based coping, so your emotion-based coping techniques, skills, or mechanisms, these are helpful when you need to take care of your own feelings, when you want to change not necessarily the situation that you’re in, it’s about how you are responding to the situation you’re in, how you are responding to the set of circumstances you are in. So, for example, if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, and we talked about that in a few, previous episodes, it’s important to take into consideration how you’re feeling and always accept how you’re feeling. If you are feeling any form of depression, it’s really important to understand what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. A lot of the situations people find themselves in, especially when they’re developing dysfunctional or unhealthy coping mechanisms, is they’ve got a fear of sitting with the emotion and because the emotions, let’s be honest, they can feel really uncomfortable, so if they fear sitting with the emotion because they don’t want to feel uncomfortable instead what people do is they choose quick, hard hitting ways to cope, that numb them from that situation in that moment. But all it’s really doing is almost putting it down, suppressing it, it’s squashing it down for a period of time, preventing us from experiencing it in the moment, but it never gets rid of it. It’s the same when it comes to problem-based coping. A lot of the reasons we develop this functional way of doing that is because we’re scared of what the outcome might be. You imagine having an issue with a family member, for example, sometimes your issue is not that you couldn’t resolve it, it’s just that to do that feels uncomfortable, feels difficult, can make us feel unhappy and so sometimes we create different ones, we create different dysfunctions. We might not speak to people, or we might pretend to ourselves that the situation we’re in isn’t happening and we do all of that in a way that we think is making us feel better, but it’s not resolving the problem, it’s not resolving the issue, and therefore it’s a dysfunctional process.

So it is really, really important to be looking at ways to develop these healthier ones, these healthier ways of problem solving, these healthier ways of problem solving the situations that we’re in, or the emotions that we are feeling. I am a big fan of the number one, the number one coping mechanism, that I think everybody should be using and if you ever come to any of my training courses, if you ever come into any of my online support groups, I call it the Magic J, the Big J, or the Magic J. And the Big J, the Magic J stands for Journaling and the reason I say that people should journal is because if you do have a problematic situation, if you are in a problematic situation and you are struggling to work out how to resolve it, that situation plays over and over and over in your mind whilst you are trying to work out what to do. Imagine that as if you’re a race car driver and each time you think about it, you’re going around the track again. You’re going around and around and around the track, but unlike with a race car, it can stop at the pit stop and it can get fixed. Whilst you are in this loop of constantly thinking and it’s stuck in your head and you’re going round and round and round, you are the race car driver that keeps going round and round that track, round and round in the circle, burning out the tires, burning out the engine, the car starts to break down, and then you completely burn out and crash. That is what’s happening to your mind when you are not alleviating it from the thought processes that you’re going through, whilst you’re trying to cope with a situation.

It’s the same when you have an emotional issue. What happens is those emotions, they stay with you. Now, remember I’ve said this before in the past, emotions trigger thinking. Emotions linked with thought triggers feelings. Feelings are uncomfortable. We then develop a behaviour to learn to manage them, and that’s where dysfunctional behaviours can come in. That’s where dysfunctional coping mechanisms come in. So just like that racing car driver, again, when you’ve got all of those emotions playing in your mind, you are stuck in this car that is breaking down, that is not getting fixed, is burning out, is going to blow up as it goes 1, 2, 3 loops, 4 loops, 5 loops, round a really busy track going faster and faster each time, trying to get yourself out of the way you feel, trying to get yourself out of the way you think, but completely consumed by it. These are dangerous head spaces to be in, these cause a great deal of stress because they take up so much mental capacity. It means that you don’t have as much headspace to then focus on all the other areas of your life as well. Which is why in the workplace it’s impossible to say leave your problems at the door because unless you can chop your head off, scoop out your brain, all of the cells in your body that are linked to your mind and leave them at the door, you are going to be taking issues into work with you every day, which is why when you have personal issues, it affects work.

Flip that around the other way, exactly the same, if you are trying to get this work life balance right, you are unable to leave work at the door when you leave to go home for the same reasons because it’s in your head. So the best way you can do any of this is to remove it from your head in the simplest, most effective way and that is through journalling. It’s why when I wrote 8WiseTM Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, the process always included work, it always included worksheets, it always included a way of removing what is in your head, getting it out of your head, moving it down your arm into your hand, and physically putting it onto a piece of paper. It is why I also developed the 12 week journal to accompany the book and it’s also why I developed the 12 month planner to accompany the book so that you can embed, you can implement a journaling strategy as a key coping mechanism for managing life and all of the stress that comes with it, helping you to Live the 8WiseTM Way for developing a healthier, happier, mind, better mental health and wellbeing, and improve your quality of life.

If you are not journaling, I highly recommend you start doing it and I get asked all the time, Kim, if I don’t have your book, and obviously I can only say I’ve written a journal, use it if you can, use it if you want to, but I appreciate that some of you are freestylers and you might want to do it a different way. Absolutely fine. Everybody should dance to the beat of their own drum. So, if that’s the case, what I recommend you do if you are a writer, if you are somebody who likes to write things down, then I recommend you start with the basics. You ask yourself every single day what went well today. Nice and simple question, what went well today? Your next question is, what did not go well today? Get it out. What happened? What went wrong? What’s messing your head up today? Get it out. What did not go well today? Then you go, if I could change anything, if I could redo anything, what would it be and what would the outcome have been? This is about you starting to problem solve that situation. If you had been in a position to redo it, what would you have done differently? How could you have changed it? If you are in a situation when you look at those areas and you go, well, actually I can’t have changed it, you then have to start accepting that some things are out of your control and that helps you then leave them behind. But if you look at it and go, actually, I could change this, that helps you to start identifying where the problem-solving elements, where the problem coping skills are with regards to solving that particular situation. And then I want you to ask yourself, how am I feeling right now? How am I feeling today? What feelings have I had today? And you can use a tool that is free on my website, head to www.8wise.co.uk and if you head to all the free downloads, you will see the emotions wheel in there. What I want you to do every single day in your journal, after you’ve said what’s gone well today, what’s not gone well today, if I could change anything what would it be and how would I do it, I want you to then ask yourself about how you’re feeling and use the emotions wheel to understand the feeling or the emotion that you’re currently experiencing.

Start with the centre circle. Identify one of the core emotions there. When you’ve done that, go to the second circle and with the emotions linked to the first one you chose, pick one that is a bit more specific to how you are feeling. When you’ve done it on the second level, then go to the third level and identify exactly which of those emotions is more specific to how you are feeling. And then I want you to really think about it and go, what specifically happened today that triggered that emotion and that gives you some idea of where your trigger points are every single day. Now I recommend everyone journals for 10 to 15 minutes every single day. Some people do it in the morning, that’s entirely up to you if you want to do it in the morning. Some people do it in the evening, some do it both. Personally, I would say if you’re going to be doing it anyway, start your morning journaling by outlining the things that you would like to try and achieve that day. Don’t do a huge to-do list. Huge to-do lists just add pressure to us to actually have a look at it from the perspective of, this is what I would like to achieve today. Try and keep it as simple as three things and don’t make it all work focused. I know my lovely workaholics out there going, oh my, my to-do list is always work related. Well, no, it shouldn’t be. If anything, try and make it maybe one work related, make it one life related and then the other one should be definitely one self-care wellness, wellbeing related. Just start with those types of things in the morning and it’s never a bad thing to start talking or start the day with what you’re grateful for. Sometimes the only thing we might be grateful for is that we woke up that day. It’s okay but start with something positive in the morning. But in the evening, use it as self-assessment. Use it as a way to understand and identify what has happened during the day and basically work through it and break through it rather than allowing the day to happen, have all of these thoughts, have all of these feelings, have all of this build-up from it, and then it just stays with you lingering until the next day and the next day, and the next day, and the next day. Try and process it on the same day and then clear your mind. Have a good night’s rest and start the next day.

So that’s why I think journaling’s so important because it really does clear your head. It allows you to remove the things that are in your head, get them out in front of you, almost like with a separate set of eyes, like a third party. And then what you are literally doing is assessing it and analysing it based on some simple questions. Nice and easy. As I said, I recommend you do that every day for a minimum of 15 minutes. If you want to spend more time doing your journal, spend more time doing it. If you want to spend less, spend less, that’s if you’re doing a paper-based journal. As I’ve said, you can do that, you could type it up on Word if you wanted to. You could go and buy yourself a notebook if you want to follow a guided journal. There are so many out there, so many out there. I used so many different journals whilst I was researching journals before creating my own. As I said, I’ve created two. One is a 12-week journal that helps you to focus on the eight key elements of the 8WiseTM model to help you boost your wellness and wellbeing, the other one is a 12 month planner, which takes a very similar concept, but allows you to plan your life over a 12 month period, constantly checking in with yourself over a number of weeks, always keeping you on track with regards to developing and maintaining your mental health and wellbeing, using the eight elements of 8WiseTM.

Now if you don’t like writing, it’s okay. Don’t be listening to me going, oh my God, I hate writing, I can’t think of anything worse to do, but I want to start journaling. You’ve got two other options. We’ve got millions of options, be creative. But the two other options I can think of, second option to writing it down is to do it visually. Do a vision board, draw it, do doodles, print stuff off, do whatever it is that helps you to be creative in removing it from your head, and if that’s a big doodle, it’s a big doodle. If that’s going onto Pinterest, for example, and identifying a load of images that represent how you feel and how you are thinking, that’s also fine. You just want to be able to be able to go back to it at another stage and be able to go, right, I understood myself then because these images make sense, so you can do it that way. The other option is to record yourself. Just talk to yourself. You could do it as a vlog if you wanted to. You could do it as a video diary to yourself and just talk into your phone. You could set yourself up as a dictaphone on the phone and just record everything. You could do it as a voice note to yourself. It’s entirely up to you, it doesn’t matter how you do it. The important thing is doing it, and it’s the doing that is really important. And the reason you are doing is because you’ve probably heard this thing about there are thinkers, and there’s doers in life, and the ones that get things done are the doers. True to a degree, but doers can’t do things without thinkers, so it takes both. But if you’ve got your head into a space where you are stressed out and it’s feeling completely chaotic in there, then you’ve done a lot of thinking already. It’s time to move to action. It’s time to do the doing.

So, if you’ve never done any form of journaling, don’t think about. Just do. Just start doing. Start alleviating the pressure that is in your head and start moving towards a healthier, happier mind. As I said, try to do that for 15 minutes every day if you can.

Now, this is the first recommended coping mechanism, healthy coping mechanism towards Living the 8WiseTM Way and developing a healthier, happier mind so you can manage stress, you can manage life, and you can have a better quality of life for doing it. But in the coming weeks, as I said, we have got a breathwork specialist, a yogi, a meditation specialist. I’ve got a nutritionist coming on to speak to you. I’ve got a gut health specialist coming on to speak to you. I’ve got a personal trainer coming on to have a chat with you. I’ve got somebody who is a specialist in Neurodivergence coming on speaking to you. So, I’ve got lots of people coming on to have a chat with you and to provide you with different ways of coping, different healthy coping mechanisms to help you manage your mental health and wellbeing so that you can have an improved quality of life because that’s what we are here for folks. It’s all about Living the 8WiseTM Way for better mental health and wellbeing.

That is episode one of this particular series, Developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms. If you haven’t done it already, start making journaling part of your process, because journaling helps remove it from your head and helps it to be put onto a piece of paper, onto a recording, but something you can review, something you can analyse, something you can assess, something you can make sense of, but most importantly, it removes it from your mind.

If you would like to get a copy of 8WiseTM Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, which is basically the 8WiseTM manual or the 12-week journal, or the 12 month planner, you can actually order them from any online book retailer, anywhere you think of, all of those names that you usually link to books. You can get them from all of those places, but you can also get ‘me directly from me at www.8wise.co.uk. Just head to the 8WiseTM store.

If after all of this, as per usual, if you think you need any additional support with regards to your mental health and wellbeing and would like to learn more about how 8WiseTM can help you, then please do get in touch with me. You can always speak to me about working with me one-to-one if that’s what you would like to try and do, or we have got a wide range of training courses coming to you throughout the year. We have got the 8WiseTM Masterclass coming up, we have got the 8WiseTM Discovery program coming up, and we’ve got the 8WiseTM Accelerator program coming up as well. All ways of helping you to understand yourself using the 8WiseTM model, understanding your trigger points to your particular or specific areas around mental health and wellbeing, and most importantly, a personalized approach. A personalized strategy for you to develop healthy coping skills. A really good self-care routine and really good way of living a life in a healthier, happier way moving forward.

That is this episode one of the Developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms series, which is actually episode 33 of the Live the 8WiseTM Way Podcast with me, Kim Rutherford, Psychotherapist, author and the person who created the 8WiseTM methodology for better mental health and wellbeing. You can follow me on everywhere where social media is, all you need to do is look for 8WiseKim, or 8WiseTherapy, and I will be there. I’ll be there booming with images and content to help you move forward in your life and, as I say all the time, if you are listening to this and have found this beneficial, if this is your first ever episode, thank you so, so much for joining, it’ll be great if you go back and listen to some of the others. I’d love your feedback. I’d love your input. I’d love you to comment, I’d like you to get in touch. If you are one of my regulars, thank you so much, I appreciate that you do listen in.

The most important thing is the next bit. There are so many people out there suffering on their own right now with their mental health and wellbeing, too scared to reach out for help, don’t know where to get that support and we don’t want that. We don’t that for anybody. And that’s why I wrote 8WiseTM in the first place because I don’t want anybody experiencing that. So, it is really important to like and to share and to subscribe and to comment on the podcast because by doing that, what you’re doing is endorsing it, which helps the algorithm, which helps more people hear it, which means more people get that support for free and that’s what we want to do in these times when it’s really troubling times and it’s really financially difficult times for people. We want to get as much free resource out to people as we can, and this podcast is a free resource and the downloads available on my website are all free resource as well to help people Live the 8WiseTM Way for better mental health and wellbeing. So, if you have been listening, I would really appreciate likes, shares, comments, and subscribe because I also wouldn’t want you to miss out on any of the episodes coming up as well.

Thank you for taking the time out. Thank you for listening to today’s show. I look forward to speaking to you again in the next few weeks when I start introducing you to some of these amazing guests we’ve got coming on who are going to be helping you to develop healthy coping mechanisms so you can Live the 8WiseTM Way for a healthier, happier mind, a better quality of life, and most importantly, for better mental health and wellbeing. So, take care. Bye for now, and I will speak to you very, very soon.

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