anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, DBT, depression, effective coping skills, goals, life, meds, mental health, mental illness, moods, motivation, sleep, stress, stress management, top 10, top 10 tuesday
Hiya kids! Welcome to another installment of Top 10 Tuesday. This week I’ve decided to share some effective coping skills / tips & tricks I’ve picked up over the last 9ish years. I need to point out right about now that yours truly has a dual diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder II and Borderline Personality Disorder, so I’ve gone through DBT and that’s where I picked up a good chunk of this.
I’m not trained in delivering DBT and I’m sure as fuck not a medical professional so what I’m offering here are just suggestions for things that I find effective. Your mileage may vary.
M’kay, let’s roll…
- Control: First and foremost I would like to remind you, gentle reader, that you are human. (shocking, I know) As humans we are imperfect creatures. We do not always make the most effective decisions when faced with a choice. I would encourage you to strive for gentleness in all things but in particular when dealing with yourself. And do your best not to judge, others or yourself. Judgements can lead to emotional pain and that’s not very effective. Learn to recognize the difference between the things you can control and things you can’t. Do your best to make informed choices when you have control and to roll with it when you don’t. Acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on.
- Staying Organized: I thrive on structure and routine. My keys are always hung on the hook in the entryway when I’m at home, in the small outer pocket of my purse when I’m carrying that, or in the top flap pocket of my backpack when I’m carrying it. If I don’t do things the same way every time I confuse myself. By doing the small things like that the same way consistently I’ve found that I can free up some of my limited brain power for other, more interesting to me, things. It also minimizes the stress I would feel should I have to hunt for stuff.
- Put it on Paper: This kind of goes with staying organized I guess. Anything I need to remember is immediately documented otherwise it’s gone. I have an app on my phone that allows me to keep a to do list with reminder notifications, I keep a small notebook in my purse and another in my backpack, and I use the Tasks feature in Outlook for my work stuff. This is another stress minimizer. If I don’t feel the stress in the first place then I don’t have to spend time trying to reduce the impact of it on my day.
- Set Goals: The weekly goals thing I do really does help me to not only get things done but also challenge myself. I set them to be just a little on the difficult side, but not all of them and not always. I’ve learned that nothing breeds success for me like success. (say wha…?) No, really. If you’re able to set yourself up to succeed you are more likely to succeed again. Start small and build your way up. Try it, you might like it. And I have faith in you.
- Get Active: I have learned over the years that few things will help level my mood, reduce anxiety, and help me sleep more than getting a little exercise. My preference is to walk on the treadmill for at least 15 minutes. Lately I’ve been increasing my speed and adding a little incline to make it slightly more challenging and I’m trying to 5x a week. But it is utterly amazing what a difference a brisk walk will make for me.
- Good Nutrition: There is a saying in the tech world, “garbage in, garbage out” and it holds true for fuck near everything. If you put garbage (junk food) in your body then you really shouldn’t expect it to perform well. Aim for a balanced diet that includes a variety of stuff including whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean meats, and a little chocolate. Seriously, don’t tell yourself that there are things you can’t have (unless you’re allergic, then totally don’t eat that shit) but try to be aware of serving sizes and exercise a little moderation.
- Relax: Make time every day to do something that you enjoy and that you’re good at. (success breeds success, remember?) Your brain and body need some time to unwind and just hang loose. For me this is an every evening thing. At 8pm I take my bedtime meds, turn off the electronics, turn on the stereo, and do something creative. I need that time to feel like me.
- Know When to Retreat: Some days you’re the dog and some days you’re the hydrant, that’s just life. There will be times when going back to bed and hiding under the covers feels like the best option. So do it. But then tomorrow you need to get back up and start kicking ass again. It’s a tactical thing really. You retreat, rally the troops, build your strength back up, and come out swinging.
- Make the Most of What You’ve Got: My assumption is that we all have tools available to us that could help make our lives a little easier, we just need to identify them and utilize them in the most effective ways possible. The #1 tool in my arsenal is my phone. I have a Motorola Droid Ultra smartphone and I make that little fucker do everything. I have a white noise app to help me sleep, the Fitbit app so I can see my progress during the day and help track my sleep and food intake (when I can be bothered to log that shit), an app so I can listen to audio books while I walk, my task app (with a reminder setup for every night at 8pm so that I don’t forget my pills), email apps for my personal and work accounts, a calendar app that ties in my personal and work info, every mailing address I could possibly need entered with my contacts… You get the idea. I also use pill trays, 3 of them, to keep track of my pills which makes it super easy to see if I forgot a dose of something. It doesn’t have to be electronic/expensive/or fancy, but I bet you’ve got something you can turn into your little personal assistant.
- Chaos: I’ve learned the hard way that physical chaos in my surroundings leads to an almost complete inability to be productive. I pick up after myself every night before bed, I put all of my shit at the office away when I leave for the day, and I’m trying to keep the crap in my immediate line of sight at my work areas to a minimum. You might not be bothered by this, but I sure as fuck am. Clutter is an evil thing in my world and I’m trying to eliminate as much of it as possible.