Monday, April 18, 2011

Therapy

What do you do to cope with the stress of daily life?

Listen to music
Take a bath
Watch a favorite TV show or movie
Go for a walk
Read a book
Pray

What about when things get really hard to handle?

Talk to a friend or family member
Go for a longer walk
Read your Bible
Eat
Drink
Isolate
Stop talking
Sleep to much
Stare endlessly at TV that doesn't really interest you

The later of the hard to handle list used to be my way to cope. Essentially, not coping at all. Just trying to weather the storms of life until it passed. How did that work out for me? Not well. Things do pass with time, but you never grow unless you learn to cope.

While I disagree with the theory of evolution of species, Darwin did get it right when he asserted that "survival is ultimately dependent on the ability to change and evolve." Change in a positive direction is labeled "growth" - spiritual maturity. And if you want to survive your life, you have to change.

Back to the question: What do you do to cope? How is this affecting other areas of your life? Is it compounding the problem and causing ill health, social alienation, weight gain/loss, etc? How do you shrug off what you've always done and do something new?

Slowly.

Identify that you would like to adopt a new way to deal with things. Pick one un-healthy thing that you do and replace it with the new thing. Don't change everything all at once. Try to pick the one thing you are willing to let go of and trade it for something you don't hate so much.

For example:

The Now Normal - come home from a stressful day, order a pizza and sit down in front of whatever is on the TV. Eat to much pizza and drink a few beers, watch TV until it is an acceptable time to go to bed. Evening wasted, you feel the same as you did when you came home.

The New Normal - come home from a stressful day, order a pizza and sit down in front of the TV. Have a slice of two of pizza and one beer, turn off the TV when you get bored. Grab a magazine, a crossword puzzle book, or your Bible and commit to spending 15 minutes doing something worth while for your brain. Get to bed on time. Maybe glean some solace, maybe feel a little more calm at bed time.

Eventually, you may stop at the gym after work instead - have some grilled chicken instead of the pizza (you can keep the beer if you want!) and decide that you want to spend time on a new hobby such as painting, drawing, sewing, or gardening instead of sitting in front of the glow of the Idiot Box all evening.

But you don't have to make such a huge sweeping change all at once! We are so used to being lied to by TV and print media that there is some secret way to change our lives. That if we just buy the new pill/cream/system that "So-in-So" developed, we will be a totally different person in just 7 days!!

It's baloney. You have to start slowly.

But you have to start.

Check out how Amy is finding new ways to cope over at Appetite for Destruction.

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