Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Positive Coping Tools’ Category

Needing Rest

Hi, everyone.

I am sorry to have posted such an intense blog entry like Ritual Abuse: Forced Cannibalism and Other Forms of Eating Flesh and then disappear, but I needed some rest. My job has kept me hopping for the last couple of weeks, and I simply needed a break today. I may or may not get something written for tomorrow. If not, I’ll start fresh on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Friends (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Talking with friends is a great way to get through the very painful times. It is especially helpful when you have a friend or two who knows what you are going through so you can just call and say, “I’m free-falling!” without having to go into explanations. It can be very hard to reveal your history to a friend, but I strongly encourage you to take the risk with someone you trust (or at least someone who you believe deserves to be trusted).

I used to fear that if anyone knew my history, she would run from the room screaming. I believed that all that I had experienced made me a bad person. Because I was repulsed by myself, I believed that others would be repulsed as well. What I discovered was that people who learned my story respected me and became fiercely loyal to me. It was such a relief to share my burden with another person.

As I was working through the healing process, I would sometimes become very triggered and feel strong urges to harm myself. I could not just “will” these urges away. I found that calling a friend was one of the best things I could do to ground myself enough to prevent myself from self-injuring. I would focus on my friend’s voice and “ground” myself until I no longer felt like I was free-falling into my pain.

Watching a friend’s reaction to your history can be powerful in helping you heal. Each time another friend reacted by saying, “It wasn’t your fault,” it helped me believe this a little more. It also helped to see friends’ anger toward my abuser and to hear them tell me how strong they thought I was.

Leaning on a friend cannot replace what you need in therapy, which I will get into in my next post. However, talking with your friends can be a wonderful supplementation to therapy. Also, having these friends in your life can help you transition out of therapy when you are ready to stop.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Thatched Roof (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Working on puzzles is a great way to cope when you are feeling very emotional. My father died suddenly when I was a teenager. Each time somebody asked what he could do for me, I asked him to bring me a jigsaw puzzle. For weeks, all I did was work on jigsaw puzzles while listening to the radio. I could not tell you why I was so obsessed with jigsaws puzzles, only that putting them together made me feel better.

Jigsaw puzzles are not the only type of puzzle that will do the trick. Any type of puzzle that engages the logical part of your brain will help to counter your emotions, including Sudoku puzzles, crossword puzzles, or even a game of Tetris on the computer. The key is to get your brain focusing on logic for a while rather than on your emotions.

Why does this work? My best guess is that engaging the logical part of your brain balances out your overwhelming emotions. Doing a puzzle does not repress your emotions but, instead, shifts for your focus for a while onto something more concrete, which can help you ride out the emotions and feel more balanced.

I have used this coping tool for years, so it was nice to have this tool in my coping skills toolbox when the emotions from my childhood exploded out of me. I bought big books of Sudoku puzzles, and I asked my husband to save the crossword puzzles from the Sunday newspapers. Whenever I felt very emotional, I would either watch television or listen to the radio while doing some type of puzzle. I always felt better, even if it was just for a little while.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Why have little girls from many different eras kept diaries? Because they are healing!! Keeping a diary or journal, particularly during emotionally turbulent times like puberty, is such a healthy way of working through the emotions that are swirling around in your head. Journals can be an amazing healing tool for abuse survivors as well.

My therapist told me that the brain processes information differently when you speak versus when you write. So, even if you are talking about your past with a therapist or a trusted friend, you might not feel the same relief that you would feel if you also wrote your feelings down.

As a writer, putting things down on paper (or, more accurately, a computer screen) is immensely healing for me. I will have many thoughts swirling around in my head that only become clear when I write them down. After I see those thoughts in writing, I can let go of the anxiety.

I type very fast and my handwriting is atrocious, so journaling on the computer works best for me. However, many people prefer to have a pen and paper when they journal. Most bookstores carry books with blank or lined pages that are perfect for journaling. You can also buy yourself an actual diary, complete with a little lock and key.

You do not have to write in your journal every day. I might write things down daily or even several times a day and then go for months without writing again. I just write when I feel a need to write. I like to record vivid dreams and flashbacks. I also like to write down any big “aha” moments so that I will remember them and can share them with other people.

Journals are also nice because they help you to remember where you have been. When you get frustrated and fear that you are not making any progress along your healing journey, you can go back, read your entries from six months or a year ago, and see how far you have come.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Handbags (c) Lynda Bernhardt

What activities do you enjoy doing? Do you engage in those activities on a regular basis? If your answer is no, then why not?

Survivors of childhood abuse often “punish” themselves by not engaging in activities that they enjoy. They feel guilty about taking time for themselves when they could be spending that time exhausting themselves while doing things for others. What you enjoy doing deserves to make it onto your calendar on a regular basis.

I love watching movies, but it is hard for me to go to a movie theater with a young child at home. So, I joined Netflix and now watch movies at home on a regular basis. I used to feel guilty about spending both the money and the time on this leisure activity, but I have grown to realize that I need to do this for myself. I cannot give to my family when I am running on empty. Investing some time in myself energizes me enough to do for others.

Playing a musical instrument can be a particularly powerful healing tool because it nurtures the body, soul, and spirit. When I play the piano, there is no past to work through nor a future to fret about: I exist in the now. If you do not know how to play a musical instrument, now is a great time to learn. I always wanted to play the piano, but I suffered abuse at the hands of my piano teacher as a little girl and quit. Buying myself a digital piano and learning how to play it in my thirties has been very healing and has helped me to reclaim a part of myself that I thought was lost forever.

Whatever you enjoy doing, do it!! Set aside an hour or two a week to do something that you truly enjoy. Having a men’s or women’s night out counts, too. Sitting at a restaurant laughing with your friends over a leisurely dinner can be just what the doctor ordered.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Man on Bike (c) Lynda Bernhardt

The next item on my list of positive coping tools from my post, Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse, is exercise. For those of you who have never chosen to exercise, this might sound insane. However, those of you who incorporate regular exercise into your life are probably nodding as you read this suggestion.

Exercising does not have to be something grueling. You do not have to join a gym or run five miles a day. Exercising can mean talking a leisurely walk in the park with your dog or a good friend. I like to step up and down on a step stool while I watch my favorite TV shows. I have a friend who loves to go kayaking. You can swim, ride a bike, or do anything else that gets your body moving. Choose something that you enjoy and do it!

Why does exercising help? When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which make you feel better. Exercise can work as a natural antidepressant, and it costs a lot less, too!!

Many people fail to exercise because they set themselves up for failure. They force themselves to do an activity that they do not enjoy, such as running several miles a day. If you hate doing it, then you are going to find any excuse not to do the activity you have chosen.

Instead, think about what activity you might actually enjoy. Do you prefer to do something outdoors or inside? Do you want to watch TV or read a book while you exercise? Gyms are great for this. Many have treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes set up in front of televisions. Would you rather exercise with a friend or do it alone?

I used to love strolling my son on long walks with other new mothers. Our babies got to spend time outdoors while we got to chat as we walked through the park. Today, I bring my dog along and enjoy his company as we walk through the park or neighborhood.

Get moving!! It really will help you feel better.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Sunlight Shining Through Trees (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Distraction is the first coping tool I mentioned on my post, Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse. Distraction can be a good coping tool, used in moderation, to help you get through the difficult times.

Distraction includes, but is not limited to, the following activities:

  • Books
  • Computer games
  • Television
  • Radio/Music
  • Movies

Distraction is a tool you can use to give you some relief when you are in a lot of emotional pain. For example, when I was struggling with very deep grief, I would sometimes pop a Friends DVD into my DVD player to cheer myself up. For 23 minutes, I would forget about my own troubles while I laughed along with whatever hilarious situation the characters were facing.

Sometimes laughter can be the best medicine. After the show was over, sometimes the pain was not quite as bad. Even if it was, at least I had a short reprieve from the pain.

Reading a good book or going to a movie can have the same effect. What is nice about a movie is that you can “lose yourself” for two hours in a dark room where you have no other distractions.

Sometimes I like to listen to a relaxing CD while I curl up with a good book. Losing myself in a book while listening to music that is different from what I am feeling can be an effective way to get me through a difficult night. Throw in a scented candle, and I can “escape” the pain for a couple of hours and maybe even fall asleep without a struggle.

Mindless computer games can also offer a nice short-term distraction from the pain. You can listen to a relaxing CD or the radio while you play anything from Solitaire to Jewel Quest and focus your energy on getting a high score rather than on your pain.

Distraction used to excess is ineffective because it is suppressing emotions that need to be released. However, used in moderation, distraction can help you keep your sanity.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »