3 Coping Strategies for “One of Those Days”

2020 has been one hell of a strain on my mental health. If I had to describe my mental state over these past months with one word it would be “oof”, which isn’t even a real word.

I’ve definitely had days where it felt nearly impossible to get out of bed and be “productive”. Pushing through hard times has never been my strong suit; I tend to resort to pretending that I don’t care as much as I do and then eventually give up. I didn’t want to give up on getting good grades this past semester, but I kind of did. My motivation levels were just at zero. Constantly.

So, here are some coping skills I learned through my therapist that help me push through and hopefully it can help some of you, too.

The three methods I have been trying to apply are the following:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Rate the urgency
  3. Rate the difficulty

Being proactive is potentially the hardest part. Sometimes you go to bed just fine but you wake up the next morning and just feel “eh”. Despite the fact that these energy and mood switches can sometimes be sudden, there are still ways you can be proactive.
That is by breaking down what you usually experience when a “slump” occurs and thinking about how to ramify these. Then when a hard phase hits, you have a plan of how to cope and push through. 

For me, my list of coping methods includes: scheduling a Skype call with friends, listening to happy songs, and trying to do more exercise to trigger the production of endorphins and serotonin.

Sometimes, though, no matter how much I listen to TWICE, it still hits and an overwhelming feeling of… listlessness sinks in. Then what? That’s when you rate the urgency of your tasks, which is also a great method if you feel anxious or overwhelmed in general.

Make a to-do list of everything you need to do. Then, give it an urgency rating. Is it something that needs to be done today, tomorrow, this week or next week?

Is it something you have to do today? Urgency rating 4. 
Do you need to submit an essay tomorrow? Urgency rating 3. 
Have something you need to do later in the week? Rate it a 2. 
Anything that you need to get done the week after is a 1.

On hard days, ignore everything below a 3.

Now you’ve rated the urgency of all your tasks, and you know what you need to focus on, but sometimes it’s still hard to start the tasks that you know you need to complete today. Well, that’s when you rate things by difficulty.

I like to think of it like setting your difficulty in a video game, so I rate things [Easy mode], [Normal mode], and [Legendary mode]. Urgency helps determine what you need to do and difficulty is supposed to help you understand where to start. 

So, I go through my to-do list.

Eating breakfast – Easy
Taking my meds – Easy
Taking a shower – Easy

Working out for 15 minutes – Normal
Cleaning my room – Normal

Finishing an essay – Legendary

Then I start with the easy tasks and work myself up, in the same way, that in a game you start with the lower level tasks. Easy tasks are crossed off relatively quickly and with every finished task, you build confidence and motivation. Then when you reach legendary tasks, they feel less overwhelming because you gained EXP through the Easy and Normal quests.

 

Things are tough, but sadly, school, work and other aspects of life don’t wait for us to find our footing again. These are ways that help me while I am off-kilter, and hopefully, they can help you, even if only a little, too. 

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Contributed by Anonymous 

Image source: Kira Paynter

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