6 Coping Mechanisms For When Life Gets Scary
I don’t know about you, but I find myself having to catch my breath a lot lately. It seems that whenever I jump on Twitter or scroll through Facebook, I have to prepare myself to see something that will cause a negative emotional response. I was sitting at my sister’s high school graduation last week at it seemed that a common theme among the speakers was the sometimes cruel world we live in. It started to depress me, but in all honesty, the world around us can be terrifying. It doesn’t help that we have access to information about these frightening or heartbreaking things at our fingertips. So how do we cope and put out some good into the world around us? Start by using these coping mechanisms.
Don't forget to breathe
There have definitely been times where I’ll be walking to campus or driving to work and notice this feeling like the weight of the world is taking its toll on me and it's too much to bear. I had a voice professor who emphasized on simply remembering to breathe, and as minute as that may seem, it’s certainly something we all forget to do consciously. Breathing allows us to remember our humanity, and can help ground us in moments that feel chaotic.
As difficult as this is, I encourage you to filter your life. It took a while before I finally broke down and went through my social media to clear out the negativity. This doesn’t mean you have to completely cut ties with your friend from elementary school or that distant cousin whose inflammatory posts get you down. There is no shame in using the unfollow button as a form of self-care. That being said, staying informed is critical. You just don't need the extra commentary from non-experts.
Recognize your bubble
When life gets scary and it feels like everything around me is spiraling, I take comfort in knowing what I can and cannot control. It doesn’t mean I always get it right, or that I don’t lose my cool for a hot second, but it means that I can take solace in knowing that there is this tiny world where I have control. On some days that world is bigger than others; although at times that area of control can be as small as knowing that I can control how I perceive things and how I react to those around me.
Keep a cheesecake in the fridge
I have a mad love affair with reruns of The Golden Girls. It’s one of my personal coping mechanisms. It reminds me of growing up in the South and never fails to crack me up when I need a good laugh. I encourage you to take stock of your natural coping mechanisms, whether that’s keeping paints nearby for art therapy or a pint of your favorite gelato in the freezer. This way your coping mechanisms are already at your disposal and you don’t have to cause further anxiety over trying to access them.
The key here, though, is ensuring that you practice positive coping. There are plenty of coping mechanisms that can turn unhealthy or are just by nature unhealthy. Make sure any action you take in this category creates nothing but positive returns for your well being. Otherwise, what's the point, right?
Surround yourself with at least three good people that are only a call away. Sometimes, especially when the issue is on a global scale, there is very little our support network can do beyond listen. Don’t let that keep you from at least getting your fears out into the open. There is immense power in vocalizing your fears, especially to a close confidant.
Practicing persistence is challenging and can feel like it requires more bravery and strength than afforded on a daily basis. However, aside from surrounding yourself with people you can talk to, surround yourself with people you can work with to make this world a brighter place. Volunteering for a cause that you feel passionate about can help you to attack your fears instead of running from them. I am always encouraged after tragedy when I see reports of the aid and selfless acts of humanity that surely come from them. Do not let global tragedy make you feel small, but let it inspire you to passionately do good.
Everyone reacts to negative energy in a different way, and they respond in a variety of ways depending on the scale of the incident. The only way to not become trapped by your fear is to move towards love. Cope in ways that are a reflection of self-love, and then, find methods to reflect that love onto others. That is how the world transforms.