Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coping Skills

The last few days I have heard of so many personal problems, impossible situations, and sad and tragic events. I won’t use the word hopeless, because there is always hope, prayer and faith that we can and will get through these life crises. But how long can the human spirit hold on before it breaks? As a friend I feel helpless to do anything. Not every problem has an answer or solution. Not everything can be fixed. So we have to depend on time. Time is supposed to help us heal, allow us to search for other options, get support, help and encouragement where we can. But how much time does it take? No one knows.

So today I went searching for websites to pass the time or distract myself from all the heartbreaking situations I am hearing about. I went looking for coping skills. Ways we can manage and reduce stress. Anything we can do while we are waiting for time to work it’s magic and restore some normalcy to our lives?

The coping skills all sound so nice and simple. But the truth is, there isn’t much you can do when your world is falling apart. They say you need to eat healthy meals, but who has an appetite? Get plenty of sleep, but how do you turn off your brain from the thousands of thoughts racing through it? They say take deep breaths. When you are worried and anxious over a crisis, breathing almost feels like work. I sometimes have all to do to take in enough air to keep me alive. They say to maintain a normal routine, but how can you when everything is not normal. Find friends to comfort and support you…that’s great, but they can’t be with you 24/7 or maybe not when you need them the most. People have busy lives and almost everyone of them is dealing with something. And, they say to take up a hobby to distract you. Speaking for myself, I could not focus on a hobby in a time of crisis. I have all to do to put dinner on the table and have the laundry done. And sometimes, dinner is takeout.

These coping skills are great for some problems, the ones that can be fixed, like a leaky roof, car trouble, a backed up toilet. But they are too helpful when something catastrophic happens and you feel your world is coming to an end, like dealing with infidelity, loss of a loved one, a serious diagnosis. These things tend to consume our every waking moment with emotional turmoil, kill our appetites, and cause us countless sleepless nights. Those are the things we can use help for, but I didn’t find a set of coping skills for them. There is only time, words of consolation and prayer.

So if you know anyone going through something major or even suspect that they are, try to be there for them as much as you can be. We can all use a shoulder or two to lean on or to cry on when we are feeling at our weakest and most vulnerable. And who knows, one day the favor may be returned in kind.

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