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Coping Mechanisms... So many options.

As life can seem like a roller coaster at times, it is necessary and imperative that we all have coping mechanisms to allow us to keep our train on the tracks; but how do we develop a mechanism that will benefit and not harm ourselves or family? This is a question I often ponder and many of us began coping activities before we are even aware, but do you know what yours is?

I am a mother of two wonderful girls that are lively, engaging and ready for action most of the time. I am also a Doctor of chiropractic in a wonderful musculoskeletal and functional medicine practice. Both are full time jobs on the very smoothest of weeks. But life is more than just mothering and doctoring; I am also a sister, daughter, church member, friend and confidant. On any given week any areas of my life may add to the already busy schedule of life and then you add what is going on in society at large and you may find yourself on the edge of being undone. In this moment what do you reach for or do for comfort to calm the nerves? The answer to this question tells you what your coping mechanism is.

Here is a list of the top coping mechanisms used by people in the United States:

  1. Television and Movies – people spend an average of 3 hours per day.

  2. Food – Usually the sugary kind since this gives us comfort, but people actually fall into two groups sweet or savory, aka Chips or Chocolate.

  3. Alcohol – This is to help people relax and many use it as a sleep aid. The average American has 1.35 glasses per day and 9.5 per week.

  4. Pills – Pain medication and sleep aids are the most commonly used prescriptions to deal with what people consider basic stress. Many more Americans will try to use alternatives like melatonin as well.

  5. Organizing and Cleaning – Somehow having your home cleaned to the standard you like makes people feel in control of their world.

  6. Exercise – Walking is the most common form of exercise practiced round the world and it also gives people a sense of calming down as well.

  7. Spirituality – Prayer and a religious fellowship like church are often used so that people can have hope and encouragement in their lives. Currently 47% of American’s attend church which is down from 70% in 2000.

Do any of these sound like something you do? Ok, confession time, my 3 go to coping items are:

1. Prayer (I am a big time prayer warrior for anyone who knows me…and I like to just make it conversational with God all day long)

2. Television (when stressed I prefer to re-watch a movie or show I have already seen so that I am not surprised which keeps me calm).

3. Tidying and Cleaning (I love to tidy a spot in the house and clean it to perfection and the more stressed I am the cleaner the house gets).

With the current threat of war, patients stressed out and the never-ending onslaught of home work, I have taken to de-cluttering and organizing trouble sights in my home. This week it was the infamous snack drawer and I have taken a before and after with it to show how entirely wonderful it makes me feel. Of my coping mechanisms, the two that will get away from me and do harm to the family is too much time watching TV- usually causing me to stay up late then I don’t feel good the next day and may even get grumpy and too much cleaning. The TV on may not surprise you as many Americans struggle to get to bed and not binge shows. Cleaning can also burden a family when the family member gets angry at the rest for not keeping the home clean to the standard she feels is needed to deal with a stressful time. This can be me, I turn into the nagging cleaner and forget to stop to spend quality time with my husband and children because I need the house to be perfect before I can relax; but this is not really the best goal with kids and a busy career.

While I think it important to have my kids pick up after themselves; making sure all toys are facing the same way really isn’t the best use of our day; not when you compare it to cuddles and reading on the couch.

Your go-to coping mechanisms shouldn’t stress someone else out. Choose your coping skills wisely and put a time limit on them. People should always come first. But I do love our very organized snack drawer now! May you stay healthy in body, mind, spirit and family.

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