In my last blog I said I would share my list of coping strategies in my next post. This is what I like to do to relax, distract or uplift myself.
These things help me cope with worry, stress, fear and anxiety over my daughter who struggles with addictions (drugs and alcohol), self-harm (cutting), mental illness, has been suicidal, in and out of hospitals, pscyh wards, and rehabs. If you are reading this you probably have a lot that causes you to be fearful and stressed, too! It may not even be over a child or grandchild. The every day trials of life can do this to you.
So here’s my list which has expanded to 30 things and they aren’t all “spiritual” things. Many are just common sense and very practical. But then I think watching the sunset can be a very spiritual activity.
1) Listen to uplifting music (I like all kinds)
2) Take a walk
3) Go for a bike ride
4) Go to the beach – I like to walk on the beach, sit and look at the water, watch the waves roll in
5) Call a friend
6) Read Bible verses (especially in the book of Psalms) or an encouraging book
7) Pray, pray and pray some more
8) Pray with someone (even over the phone if necessary)
9) Post index cards around my home with Bible verses or encouraging quotes (this may include inside my car!)
10) Sit by water and just relax – a pool, lake, pond, foutain, or a water feature; there’s something about the sight and sounds of water that is so refreshing
11) Take 5 to 15 minutes to pull away from everything; go to a quiet spot, lay down (if I can) or lean back and practice the 3 R’s – Rest, Relax Receive: Focus my thoughts solely on God and on receiving his love. Even 5 minutes completely refreshes me! Sometimes I might even fall asleep doing this!
12) Read a good book or magazine – just for fun, not work related and unrelated to anything affecting my child
13) Go to a support group meeting – Al Anon, Nar Anon, Celebrate Recovery. (they also have online groups)
14) Go to a retreat center for at least half a day (I like to go to a monastery with beautiful, serene grounds to walk around).
15) Skype with my family – especially my son and his family so I can see my grandbabies! What joy this brings me!
16) Clean house or organize something (this keeps my mind focused on something else!)
17) Bake something I like or make a new recipie (then enjoy consuming it!)
18) Go shopping – if my budget is tight then I will go window shopping. Look out Goodwill store, here I come!
19) Watch a fun movie that makes me laugh (I love old classics and musicals)
20) Practice deep breathing while repeating a comforting phrase – “I belong to God” is one I like; or “God is in control”; “I am not alone”; “This won’t last forever”; “Let go and let God”; “Take One Day at a Time”
21) Read stories (or watch movies) of redemption, about people who overcame great obstacles in their lives. I find them through searching the internet, netflix, or the library. Reader’s Digest magazine is a good source. I find things on the internet – youtube, iamsecond.com, twloha.com, and other websites.
22) Pull weeds or work in my yard. I enjoy taking care of my flowers and plants.
23) Watch the sun rise or set. Take pictures of this.
24) Sing songs – play a favorite CD and sing along with it. One I like to sing with is Stevie Wonder! Sometimes I like to get out an old hymnbook and sing some of my favorites.
25) Read over my “thanksgiving journal” (a record I keep of things I am thankful for) and make a new entry. Remembering how I have been blessed always uplifts me.
26) Take pictures of nature or anything that interests me; look through my photo albums; look at my favorite photos in my computer.
27) Do something for someone else (this is a biggie; takes the focus off of myself)
28) Listen to pre-recorded sounds of nature (birds singing, rushing rivers or streams, rainfall, etc.)
29) Use a “God Box” – I mentioned this in a former post in December 2011. Take a small box and when feeling worried, fearful or stressed about your child, write that thought down on a piece of paper. Then put it in the box and put the lid on it. This process is symbolic of giving it to God! I have been amazed at how this simple exercise helps me let go of the worries I have about my daughter.
30) Go to garage sales. It’s a blast! You never know what you will find. I usually go with a good friend (adding to the enjoyment), but even alone it is still a good activity for me.
This may have been really boring to read, but I hope it inspired someone to go make their own list. If you do be sure to keep it handy so you can use it the next time you feel overcome with fear, worry or anxiety about your child, or about anything! It really does help! I’m sure my list will keep growing as time goes by. I need all the ideas I can get to help me cope better.
Ask God to give you ideas of what will work for you. I’m sure your list will look completely different from mine. I wonder what you will have on your list?
Here are a few Bible verses that I like to remember when I need to relax:
God is able to give the “Peace that transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple he heard my voice . . . He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my enemy (the power of addiction, rebellion, etc. that is working in my child’s life and my negative responses of fear and worry). . . the Lord was my support . . . He brought me out into a spacious place . . . “ (Psalms 18:6, 17-19 NIV)