I work with pre-k / K age children who have been diagnosed with autism, many of which have high anxiety at times. I’m looking to expand my list of coping strategies for these children as wide as possible. I’m asking you to please comment with any and all coping strategies you’ve used or known to have been used with young children, and also please share this post so I can collect as many ideas as possible. I very much appreciate you taking your time to help me help these amazing children!
I have been exercising regularly for a good 10 years or so now, and I tend to go in spurts of doing hard, vigorous workouts 5-6 days a week for a few months, sticking yoga and running in there to mix it up, and then slowing down and doing mostly yoga or walking and running 4-5 times a week. Sometimes my slowing down is due to some sort of ailment, and sometimes it’s just due to my energy levels.
I am always conscious of how I’m feeling physically and mentally, and if I’m going through a period of feeling sad, anxious a lot, or just bad about myself, I typically can identify the reason or reasons why, and figure out what’s missing, in order to get back to feeling good again. For me, in order to be my best, I picture the game Topple, the game where the game board sits atop a pillar and everyone takes turns putting their chips on, in hopes of not making the game board topple over and spill all the chips. The board has to be balanced in order to stay up. There can be some extra chips in one corner versus another, but not too many, or else it crashes down.
Everyone’s game of topple has different colors of chips, but no matter what colors they are, if the board isn’t balanced, it’s in danger of crashing. On my board, I have family, work, self-care, exercise, friends, food, medicines and vitamins, and probably more things I can’t think of at this moment.
We all know that exercise, in all forms, is great for everybody. Early this past fall, I injured my hand by pulling weeds in my yard, which put a huge damper on my exercising. I still got up in the mornings and did different types of exercises that I was capable of doing without irritating or further injuring my hand, but I was limited. Finally, around Thanksgiving time, my hand was feeling much better, and I was able to begin doing more with my workouts again. It feels great to be able to do more strength training, and workouts that make me sweat. When I begin to see some results, such as my clothes fitting better, I become more motivated to keep it up. Everyone’s body adapts to the level of exertion you’re putting on it, which is why you may see results quicker in the beginning, and then it seems to become a slower process.
For me, exercise seems to become an addiction, or maybe an obsession. Regardless of the term, I recently find myself thinking constantly about exercising. I go to bed thinking about what kind of exercise I’m going to do in the morning, and often I wake up before my alarm goes off thinking about how much time I’m going to have, and what all I can squeeze in to that time. If I don’t exercise in the morning, I am thinking all day long about how and when I can get a workout in sometime in the evening, regardless of how tired I am. There are times I find myself thinking about how, where, and when I could sneak in 10 extra pushups, or an extra wall sit, plank, or set of squats. Sometimes I will choose to do yoga in the morning, and even though it feels amazing, later in the day I’m feeling bad about myself because I’m thinking that I should have and could have done something harder, something to really exert myself.
I love exercise, in all different forms, because it makes me feel so good, but I catch myself constantly over-thinking it, and I don’t want it to turn in to a bad thing. Life is stressful enough as it is, nobody needs to be stressing about something that is supposed to help you de-stress. As I am thinking about this, in this moment, while typing, it goes right back to Topple. If I put too much time and energy in to the exercise section of my game board, it will still topple over.
Thank goodness for the writing section of my game board to help me sort out my thoughts, and keep my board in balance!
Back on the saddle!
It’s not been long, maybe a couple days, but I’m feeling blue. Low energy, wanting to cry, higher anxiety than normal, just not good. I hate feeling this way because it frustrates me. I have things I’ve been wanting to get done and although I keep thinking about them, I also keep putting them off. It’s pretty simple stuff I’d say, going through a few bins of toys and dropping off things at Goodwill, stuff like that. I wear my emotions on my sleeve most of the time because I’m horrible at faking it, but because I know this I’ve been worrying if co-workers and families I work with are noticing that maybe I’m quieter or less energetic. Then I worry that they might think I’m going to do a bad job with their child. I have a pretty great reputation for how well I work with my clients and their families because I do love what I do, but then I start to worry that that will get ruined.
It’s also frustrating to me because I’m constantly trying to analyze what’s going on, why I’m feeling this way, and what am I lacking or have I been slacking on. I’m lucky enough to have been given this personal education about mental health/illness, but sometimes it’s even more frustrating because all of this knowledge is stirring around in my head.
I’m curious to know if any of you have for yourself one sure fire way, that always (or mostly always) works when you need to be pulled out of a slump. Unless it’s hugely obvious like I haven’t been exercising at all, or I need one or more of my meds refilled so I haven’t been taken them, (which I do not let that happen w my meds), or there’s been a significant life event, there is not one specific thing that works for me. Sometimes I know exactly what I need right away, sometimes it dawns on me like a lightbulb has been switched on, sometimes it’s a lot of trial and error, sometimes I see my Therapist to help me figure it out, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised that I just start to feel better.
As I sit here writing, I’m noticing that I’m not feeling as blue as earlier. Getting it all out of my head and in to writing must be the thing I needed today. It was a sneak attack!
A tool I’ve found helpful for myself is to have a list written down of all the things that work for me. This way, when I’m feeling low and it’s harder to think straight, or even at all, I can check it. Having it written down is key because it’s pretty likely that when you’re feeling low, it’ll be harder to recall that list. I also have a checklist of all the pieces of my own personal puzzle, as I like to call it, that I know I need regularly to stay healthy.
I love when people post things from their own personal list of coping mechanisms and self-care ideas. I think it’s so important to share with each other because you never know who may need and decide to try something new today. Something that you do all the time, that maybe doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal, could actually be life saving to someone else. That being said, I’d like to share with you my 2 favorite YouTube channels for yoga!
The first one I’d like to recommend is Yoga with Adriene. Adriene is an excellent instructor for everyone at every level. She has a different video for pretty much any mood you’re in, for strength, for weight loss, for PMS, for headaches, for just about everything. They go anywhere from 15 min to an hour so you can pick what fits your schedule too!
Secondly, I love Sadie Nardini’s yoga videos just as much! Her videos are a little more intense and fast paced but she also has a wide variety of practices.
I don’t know about you, but I get bored easy with my workouts so I often mix them up. If you’re interested in trying something new, check these ladies out!
Originally posted on Thought Catalog
I can relate so closely to this post and it’s so well written that I had to reblog it. I hope you enjoy it!
When You Love Someone, You Hurt When They Hurt
This is right on!
I strongly feel the need to spread awareness about acceptance today. I experienced a situation this week at a local gymnastics center that made my blood BOIL inside.
We all know that this world is not perfect by any means, and everyone has a right to their opinions, but it is absolutely maddening to me when a child is pointed out and excluded simply because they have special needs.
One of the children I work with had been enrolled in a mommy-n-me type gymnastics class for 2-3 year olds. Before enrolling, the parents spoke with the manager of this gymnastics center to discuss their child’s needs, the specific skills they are working on, and making sure that it would be okay for their child’s behavioral therapist (me) to come along each week and join in class to support the family. The parents were reassured that all of this was completely acceptable, and were feeling positive and confident about enrolling in this class.
Unfortunately, come week 3, this manager comes over and sits down next to the mother to tell her that he had another parent text him saying that this particular class has too many people in the room, and the crying is distracting. He continues to talk saying, “I know she has her issues…” and “when she starts crying if you could just take her out of the room” and “I’m just trying to keep everybody happy here.”
First of all, the children are 2 and 3, they ALL cry at some point during each class. Second of all, NOBODY would be able to look around that room and say, oh that child has autism so that’s why she’s crying. Lastly, the only thing taking her out of the room will do is teach her that she can scream and cry to get out of something she doesn’t want to do, which is basically the opposite of what we are trying to teach.
Now yes, we could’ve decided to say to ourselves, we will show him, our child is going to be amazing! The thing is though, as a parent of any child, you want the best for them. As parents we all have to do things and have conversations that make us uncomfortable, but is it worth the anxiety of going back every week wondering which parent doesn’t want you there, and if the manager is going to kick you out, and if you’re being watched over constantly? I think not. The family decided to terminate their membership and seek out other options for both of their daughters.
I was at first trying to figure out if the manager of this place was ignorant, playing favorites with another family, or just being a dick. The more I thought about it though, the more I started thinking that whatever the reason, the comments still hurt. The reason doesn’t necessarily matter, and I cannot change what happened and what was said. I can though be proactive in trying to prevent these types of situations from happening in the future. The only thing I could think of to do that would actually be feasible, is to write about it and ask people to share it.
I want to remind people to stop and think before they speak to others. Everybody deserves the opportunity to do the things they love, and not be judged for doing them because of their age, race, gender, sexual preference or ability. I believe it all comes down to two simple words that are the root of many uncomfortable situations, and that many people forget.
Be kind to yourself, to your friends and family, to acquaintances, and to strangers. Be mindful of the fact that someone’s behavior you may be witnessing right now is just this one moment in time. You may or may not know them, but there’s a pretty good chance that you don’t know what may have led up to what you are seeing. Nobody is perfect, everyone has challenges in their lives, whether you know what they are or not. The next time you start to make assumptions and judgement about someone else, stop and think before you speak.
I used to hate that quote with the passion! “It is what it is” people would say, and I would be so irritated, not to say that sometimes it still doesn’t bug the hell out of me, but having an understanding of what it really means now gives me a different perspective.
I have been thinking about acceptance a lot lately. Over the past couple of months and probably even longer, I have asked myself over and over and over, why me? Why is this happening to me? Why do I feel this way? Also saying things to myself like, I hate this! This is too hard! I don’t want to do it anymore! Now I am not here to say that those thoughts don’t happen anymore because they most definitely do, but I have noticed that when I can come to terms with something, and accept it for what it is, whether I like it or not, it’s easier to find a solution to the problem. Ironically this was also the topic in group today, reality acceptance. We have to practice accepting certain things for what they are, and then decide how we want to handle them. Sometimes we do need to be miserable for awhile before we can change things or accept certain things. Some situations are uncontrollable and cannot be changed to what we want them to be. When I was first diagnosed officially with depression and anxiety that was a little bit scary, but I had hope and strength that I could get through it. In the beginning I was very worried about what others would think because of the stigma of mental illness. Since being open and honest though and putting it all out there, I have come across so many people that DO understand and that have the same or very similar experiences as me. I often had times though too of thinking, there is NO WAY IN HELL I am ever going to survive this. I know I probably mention this in almost every single post, but I am so so so entirely grateful for my support system who have helped and continue to help keep me going. I started feeling pretty positive and was seeing myself on this slow and steady uphill climb with my recovery, and then all of a sudden I crashed again. Then I really started panicking, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, why this is happening, wondering if I am way more sick than I really thought I was, did I push myself too hard, why why why!!!!!??? I was very scared, but as tempting as it was, I was not going to give up. I contacted my psychiatrist so I could let him know what was going on, and was worried that I wasn’t on the correct meds. My mood swings were/are or can be ridiculously awful, and just the fact that I felt like I was almost all the way back to square one was telling me something was off, just not quite right. Considering my family history, and talking more in depth with the psychiatrist, we decided to try new medication being that I have been displaying more characteristics of bipolar, and not just anxiety and depression. This also was scary for me a little bit, but I feel confident now that the bipolar is acknowledged, and I am able to correctly treat and manage my illness. One very important thing that I feel I have learned is that I have to take ownership of this. Having a support system and reading books, and blogs and talking to others and going to therapy and living a healthy lifestyle are all very important things and tools to help you, but this is something we have to accept before we can begin to manage it. It is MY RESPONSIBILITY if I want to live a healthy lifestyle and feel good, to take the proper measures to be able to do so. Nobody is going to do it for me. There is no magic cure or magic pills to take all the bad away. Yes, others can help support and encourage, and we definitely can and should in my opinion continue to educate ourselves and explore what works for us. BUT, if we cannot accept it, we can’t move forward. I know it is NOT easy at all, and there is so very much to learn and take in, and it seems to take a long time to figure it all out, but I just want to say, be an advocate for yourself. Do what you need to help yourself, we cannot expect others to do it for us. In my short little experience with all of this so far I find it very empowering and quite confidence building when I really push myself and see how much I am truly capable of. It feels so good to feel proud of myself!!
April must have been the month I was most inspired. Some of these posts I believe as I look back, were just as much for my own good as I intended them to be for others.
I seem to think of or come across that saying a lot that says something along the lines of, anything worth having doesn’t come easy. Well, even though there seem to be many times where it feels like it isn’t, life itself is worth living. Even in the periods when there are more bad days than good, the good days or parts of days even make it so worth it. The bad days, hours, minutes, or moments are where the fighting comes in. I think for me at least, the hardest part is that the fight isn’t always the same. There is not one specific thing or way that always works. There are so so so many different strategies, coping skills, and/or activities that can be used. What gets so frustrating sometimes is that I will go through and try 6 different things before I find something that works, if I even do at that time. I am learning though, that sometimes the fighting doesn’t quite work. Even though it sucks, sometimes you, or at least I do, have to just let yourself be miserable for a little while, until you are ready to make the change. It is just like anything, starting a diet, quitting a bad habit, getting in to a new routine. You cannot fool yourself into being ready. You have to want the change, and want to feel better. I think this again is where the patience and kindness comes in. If you are not ready to feel better and you want to lay in bed for half of your day until you are ready to get up and start feeling better, you cannot beat yourself up about that. Easier said then done, I know! But, as we have been learning with each new skill in group, start with the small things. Practice on being kind and patient with the smaller issues first before you try it on something bigger. I was panicking on Friday about work, money, and insurance things and I felt so awful. I knew that I let myself get to that point, and I laid here thinking about things I probably could be doing to feel better, but I wasn’t ready to. My body and mind needed to just feel bad for awhile before it could start feeling better. I had to be patient with myself because I knew I wasn’t ready and I was in crisis and needed to get past it. I also had to be kind telling myself that this is okay, and that even though I wasn’t able to meet my friends out for awhile, they all understood and still love and support me. Again I know, not that simple, but that is something, as you can probably see by now if you’re keeping up with my blog, that I have been continuously practicing. Another thing I have been working so hard on is living in the moment. One of my goals for this weekend was to simply have some FUN! I found myself a few times Friday night, a little bit Saturday, and even yet this morning starting to worry again about the same things that had me down on Friday afternoon. With the practice though, I was able to notice that I was starting to feel bad, and remind myself that there is nothing I can do about it all right now since it is the weekend, and that I am going to get it all worked out on Monday. I cannot say that this is fool proof and that it always works, like I said earlier. But I am really starting to see that with the practice of the skills, they start to come more naturally. Again I will say too, the exercise I really really believe helps a ton. Being active, even if its vigorous cleaning or whatever, is so beneficial. One more thing that I really am believing in right now is medicine. I was so very worried about having to take meds at first, but my goodness, the (correct) meds in combination with living a healthy lifestyle is changing my life! They key is to remember though, the meds will not work all on their own. The good days, moments, hours, and minutes are SO WORTH THE FIGHT!!! Sooner rather than later you will start having more good times than bad, and doing what’s good for you will come natural. That’s not to say you will never have bad times again, but if you keep fighting, you will be more equipped to handle them better, and get past them faster. NEVER GIVE UP!!!!
Another April 2016 post, this time about love, significant others, and mood swings. I cannot even put in to words how grateful I am that I was given the opportunity to gain such an important education in order to get me to where I am today. These types of mood swings, that I talk about below, RARELY happen anymore to me.
I used to think, when you love someone so much, so much that you can feel the love throughout your entire body, mind and soul, how could you ever be mean or nasty to them? As a matter of fact I still can’t believe it’s possible, but speaking from experience, it happens. I am pretty sure it’s not only people with mental illness who occasionally get ugly towards their significant other, but for me I feel like these mood swings I have been experiencing make me get so nasty and mean sometimes. MOST of the time it stays in my head, but occasionally parts of it slip out and tonight it pretty much all did. Now please let me be clear, I am NOT using my illness as an excuse because I take full responsibility in learning how to control it. Unfortunately though, I am unable to fully fight it 100% of the time. That said, I also take full responsibility for my words and actions. Once words are said, there is no taking them back, and I used to be really good at thinking before I speak. I still more often than not am, but obviously that is changing. As I reflect on my conversation with Sara from earlier I feel like it wasn’t even me. It’s so strange, it’s like someone else took over my brain, the demons maybe. Again, I don’t hear voices, but it’s like… even though I can think to myself… Crystal Lynn! Just get your ass out of bed, go for a walk around the building because you know the fresh air helps you, and take 15 minutes to clean up the living room and kitchen and you will start to feel so much better! But then in the same breath my brain also goes… Might as well just stay in bed, who cares if the living room is clean, fuck it, I’ll just get up when I absolutely have to. It is so absolutely exhausting!! I would never have thought that just experiencing so many intense emotions in one day could be so draining, even if they are mostly good! I am soooooooo much in love with Sara and the last thing I want to do to her, and anyone I love, is hurt her. I really can’t help but to fear that someday my illness will be too much for her to handle. Do any of you feel that way? I can’t be the only one. It’s such an awful feeling because hurting someone you love and care for so deeply is just as hurtful to yourself. At least in my opinion and experience. All I can do is fight this illness like hell, educate myself as much as possible, and pray that it’ll never get so bad that the unimaginable happens. I may be saying this to convince myself more than anything else, but I have to keep hope and keep believing that I am going to continue to get stronger and healthier!
This post was from April 2016 also. I was pretty proud of being able to write that letter to myself.
Today in group we learned about self compassion. Basically, being kind to ourselves. We talked about how we can change our negative thoughts in to compassionate ones, by starting to notice when we are actually having them. What I got from this lecture and practice, was breaking it all down. What I mean by that is, first noticing the thoughts such as, “Why am I so stupid that I cannot pass this test?” To be able to change it you have to realize that you’re even doing it. Then by breaking it down I mean really take that sentence or thought apart. First of all is it a fact or an opinion. What are the facts surrounding this situation? What can I change so that I can be more successful next time I am in this situation? I may not know how to do something, but the fact is, I CAN learn and do better the next time.
We were given an exercise at the end of the day to imagine ourselves meeting the sad, depressed, angry, frustrated version of ourselves, listening to that person telling us what they are struggling with and want help with, and then we went our separate ways, but were asked to write a letter to that person, that version of you. When I feel weak, I have very little self confidence that I can do much of anything. That is what I wrote my letter to me about, and I would like to share it with all of you in case any one of you can relate.Dear Crystal,
I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but that confidence is there! I’ve seen it and felt it shine many many times!! Try to remember how that feels. You are not alone. Never forget that. BELIEVE in yourself because whatever you’re struggling with, you ALWAYS work your way through. You are a very strong woman. You will need to remember to be kind to yourself as well as patient. Sad, frustrated, angry feelings are just as worthy as happy, proud, and hopeful feelings. Having “down” feelings doesn’t define you, just as having good feelings doesn’t. You’re trying hard, and not giving up and that right there is HUGE!!! Don’t forget to celebrate the little things, and look always for the silver lining. The storm ALWAYS passes.