After living the last few years of my life, there is no doubt in my mind that resilience and coping is a skill. Our strategies are incredibly personal and often will have been refined over many years of turmoil and stress. However, sometimes they won’t always be that deep! Some people’s go-to (mine included) represents an innate instinct we have to protect ourselves. Whether your coping is productive or not, sometimes it’s necessary to indulge, and sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective on how to continue moving through life dealing with stress.
Over the past few weeks I’ve sought out a kaleidoscope of people to discuss this with. Listed below you’ll see the names of good friends of mine, uni peers, kids I babysit, and even my grandmother. Interestingly, everyone had something different to say. I realised for everyone I spoke with, their go-to coping mechanism reflected something very individual to them. Some of us mentioned escapism, while others preferred to tackle things head on. I hope that when you read this, you’ll see one thing that you hadn’t thought of before, and that that thing will help you even just a little the next time you need it.
My deepest and sincerest gratitude to all those who spoke with me for this article. Without you insightful coping masters, this piece would not have been possible.
“I really like going for a walk or driving if I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed and blasting music. If I’m stressed about uni stuff, making lists and talking out my plan to myself helps.”
– Sarina, 20
“I like to put in my headphones, listen to music, and walk around the city people-watching. The big buildings towering over me really puts my problems into perspective. I am strangely comforted by how tiny I am in this big world and this reminds me to not take things too seriously and to just relax and take life one day at a time.”
“I like to read or walk Maggie (my dog) or finish my homework and then do some more reading.”
– Sanda, 11
“When I’m feeling depressed, I usually make a plan for allowing myself to feel shitty in a way that doesn’t let me spiral into lying in bed for three days. Firstly, I pick a thing to do that allows me to sit with my emotions, for example making a cup of tea, having a shower, listening to music; followed by a task that will make me feel better like reading a book, putting clothes away or even brushing my hair. I find that allowing myself to feel full and valid emotions within parameters means I’m not suppressing what I feel, but also not letting it control my life.”
– Ella, 21
“I like to play on my iPad. I also like to hop in my bed.”
– Thu, 9
“Talking to people and talking through things helps me put things in perspective and see that it’s usually not as bad as I think. When you look around, you’ll realise you’re really quite lucky compared with a lot of people around you. For instance, I have reasonably good health and a lot of people my age don’t – that’s something I am happy about and feel grateful for. Also, creative pursuits are therapeutic for me. I like craft work and cooking. Tea and coffee are relaxing, as is a good gin and tonic.”
– Dalma, 82
“It depends on the situation, but I always enjoy having a bath! It just helps me to relax and spend some time being alone and processing my thoughts or how the day went.”
– Maddy, 20
“I am on the autism spectrum, so pretty much any kind of stress I feel, no matter how small, is amplified by a factor of like 50 percent. Stress can really, really shut me down. To try and combat that I have to take myself out of that situation and go to a safe space where I can process everything slowly. I use music, drawing, or even just talking to someone I can trust. For the most part I generally tune out and listen to music in a quiet place where I can collect my thoughts. I use this time to figure out what the actual issue is, and how I’m going to address it.”
– Max, 18
“I find taking myself into a different reality helps me cope. For example, quietly reading a novel set in another time or going to see a controversial film with an insightful movie buff (read argumentative!). Ringing a friend that you have not spoken to for a long time is energising, as is going for a brisk walk in cool weather. And don’t underestimate the stress relieving power of animals!”
“If it’s a simple stress I can deal with it pretty well, whether that is by blocking it out or not confronting it at that particular time. I’m more of an expressive person so if it is something a bit more significant then I will seek out somebody close to me to talk to, or listen to music, or maybe stress eat. Tea and coffee are good too.”
– Lauren, 19
“When I’m stressed, I want to sink my teeth into something more story-heavy for a bit of escapism, whether that be a book or a video game.”
“A good cup of tea represents unadulterated luxury and is so soothing in any context. You will always feel at least 5 percent better about any situation after a cup of tea. Escapism is also very therapeutic. When I need a bit of TLC, I’ll grab my luscious cuppa and sit down with some immersive simulation/role-playing games like Minecraft, Skyrim, or Animal Crossing. Sometimes the best way to cope is just to run away for a bit, and that’s okay.”
– Rose, 20