There Is Always Hope Of Reducing Your Pain
You can calm and soothe yourself when you hurt.
It takes a long time, some training, and a lot of practice, but by using coping skills, you can learn how to calm yourself during a depressive episode, an anxiety attack, a panic attack, a bipolar episode, or something similar.
When I have a situation that causes me pain, the first thing I need to do is figure out how to feel better. After that, I can try to resolve the situation. This is where my coping skills come in. My coping skills are anything I can think or do to make me feel better. They range from meditation and mindfulness to re-watching comedy specials on Netflix and cuddling with my husband. Some are extremely simple, like reading or cleaning when I’m on the manic side. Others are just statements I reread that I originally had physically written down on index cards kept in my “toolbox”, which is the box I keep made out of a re-purposed shoe box. Now I use this article to “thumb through” my tools at a glance.
I have many soothing or calming actions I can take to feel better. Here are the actions from my toolbox:
- Read a book if manic.
- Call a friend if you need compassion or to be heard by someone.
- Lay down, close your eyes, and relax from toes to scalp if you are tense.
- Play guitar if you need a distraction.
- Listen to an affirming Spotify playlist if you need to center yourself or re-establish your personality.
- Do the big/medium/small ears centering meditation. (This is where you sit silently with your eyes closed and imagine your ears are getting bigger. When they are very large, listen for all the sounds you can hear outside of the room you are in. Once you can hear all the sounds, shrink your ears to half their previous size, and listen to everything you can hear inside the room you are in. Imagine your ears going back to normal, and listen carefully for all the sounds inside your body. This helps to ground you in the present moment, and it also helps with fear and anxiety. It is a very quick and easy meditation, and only takes a few minutes.)
- Meditate freestyle. Let thoughts occur inside of imaginary helium balloons in your mind, and then let each balloon go up and away as your thoughts come up. Have a thought, but then let it float away.
- Drink cold water.
- Sing until you are distracted.
- Hold ice cubes in both hands and feel them melt. This is good for distracting your brain from your anxiety, which calms you down for a little bit. It’s good for panic attacks, but the relief doesn’t always last, so have another skill prepared for after.
- Walk. Thinking while walking helps you process emotion, due to the bi-lateral communication between the two hemispheres of your brain.
- Go outside and ground yourself. You ground yourself by noticing something near you and trying to take in as much information about it as you can. Use sight, smell, touch, color, lines, your emotional response to it, its history and where it originated. You can do this with anything. I recommend a tree or a plant.
- Meditate any way you like.
- Splash cold water in your face.
- Watch something comforting you’ve seen before on Netflix. This one is great for depressive and dissociative episodes, especially comedy specials. They have no plot to follow, it’s okay if you tune out sometimes, they have the same volume all the way through (which is good if you are tense, anxious, or agitated), and if you’ve seen it before, you’re not being challenged by trying to take in new information at a time when you already can’t process things you usually know.
- Write about all of your feelings.
- Talk to someone in your family. It is highly likely that they want to help you.
- Think about science.
- Color in your coloring book.
- Do crunches or lift weights.
- Find the present moment. Become completely present. Not worrying about the future or the past, just noticing exactly what is happening right now.
- Warm up like you would before a voice lesson (or any instrument).
- Make sure you’ve eaten. If you haven’t, have fruit. This one is a good solution for when I don’t want to eat anything at all.
- Meditate by watching your breath.
- Cuddle with a loved one.
- Give attention and kindness to your pet. Take your time. Be present with them. They are always in the moment.
- Take a hydroxyzine or Benadryl (or whatever you are prescribed for an as-needed anxiety med). I only name hydroxizine and Benadryl because both of them are non-addictive anti-anxiety medicines to be used as-needed for anxiety attacks and episodes. You have options when it comes to psychiatric medication, so keep your doctor informed if something doesn’t work or causes problems. Please note that lorazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam, and diazepam all have the potential for abuse and addiction because they work so well and make you numb if you abuse them, so discuss any addictive tendencies you have with your doctor. Like I said, you have options.