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Personal Growth

What are your coping habits?

A while back I did a blog post about coping habits versus healthy habits and the contrast that I talked about in that post was that healthy habits make you feel alive. They are habits that bring joy to your life and they are habits that build your buffer for really stressful stuff, so things like diet, exercise, getting good sleep, spiritual disciplines, good relationships with the key people in your life, and those kinds of things. Coping habits are those habits that get you through hard times that keep you alive.

I’m going through one of those times right now and the realization struck me that some of the same things that are the buffer-builders in the normal times and the not-so-stressful times are the things that are helping me get through this right now. My spiritual disciplines, reading Scripture, prayer, contemplative prayer, it’s kind of meditation-ish, exercise, it cuts both ways because it also puts a lot of physical stress and I just don’t have a lot of capacity to exercise right now, journaling and keeping a to-do list.

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With my to-do list, I’ve been even a little bit petty, like putting really little things on there, just to cross them off, so that I know that I did them and, at the end of the day, I have a list that I can look at that I know that I accomplished a certain number of things, so I feel productive, so being in Scripture, prayer, meditation, keeping a to-do list, a morning journal, an evening journal.

The evening journal is based on those bedtime prayer routines that I talked about with my daughter. Asking her every day, “What are you thankful for, what did you learn today, and who did you help today,” forces me, even on a really bad day, to look for things that are good, look for things that are memorable and, then, to write them down each morning.

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Right now, the things that I’m journaling are just answering the question, “What would make today awesome,” and I think today I wrote down just finding some little sliver of joy in this really hard day as I’m preparing to travel to Ohio. What made today awesome? What’s the other question? I don’t have my journal with me.

Affirmations, things that I know are true, things that I need to speak out loud and remind myself of, even though I might feel doubtful of them and I might not think in a way that shows that they’re true, but I know that they’re true. Things like that.

Of course, just writing down my morning prayer has been really helpful for me. Those coping habits, even though I’ve written in a way that might have made it sound like coping habits are a bad thing, coping habits are what get through these kinds of times , so make sure you know what yours are.
My daughter is having a rough time, so I got to help her.

By Dan

Founder, Executive Director, Mental Health Counselor at Restored Life Counseling