Tag Archives: Coping

When is it OK to not be OK?

I’m not OK right now. And you know what? I’m dealing with it. I’ve found myself in a new place in my life, one of imbalance. Having worked full time for most of my 42 years, I’m finding the land of part time work a nearly unmanageable landscape. No, no, stick with me here…

Saying YES

I tend to be a person who says yes when I should say no, not because I’m weak, but because I love to say yes. Yes, I’d love to do that, yes I CAN do that, yes, let’s do that! Sometimes though, too many yeses mean taking away the quality of my experiences to replace them with quantity. When I find myself with perceived time on my hands, I tend to fill it, and I know I’m not alone in this.

When we work full-time we have rigid structures and routines in place to ensure (or increase the chances anyway) our lives go smoothly. We plan completely around working full time. Our children go into daycare, and we get sitters for the unexpected. We clean when we can, and enjoy our time off work. Now what if you’re only working part time? The cleaning, the laundry, the errands, the bill payments, the shuttling and the child minding all become yours, after all…you’re home more… right?

All the time in the world, right?

Now you’re also working 20 hours per week, but need to ensure you’re home by the end of the school day because childcare is no longer an expense you can afford. Oh, and no sitters ­­– also extra money. Speaking of extra money, friends you haven’t seen in ages will want to get together of course, because you FINALLY have the time…but…well you see where I’m going here? This is the place I found myself in recently. Feeling pulled in so many directions, and stretched so thin, that I finally broke.

Sitting there in my boss’ office as I felt a humiliating tear run down my face was my low point. I was trying to explain something that had happened on the weekend which resulted in the company laptop taking a nose dive while I was out. Love those pets.  But there I was. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m not a crier (once that whole pregnancy thing cleared itself up), so I imagine having me crying across her desk was a bit of a shock.

The two Ps – People and Perspective

This month we’re supposed to be discussing how we cope. I think it very telling then, that the thing I needed most in this case was a person who cared about me enough to take me for tea and tell me to give my head a shake. This IS, indeed, how I cope, perspective and the love of the people in my life. In my heart, I knew this wasn’t a life threatening or altering issue, but all those little pieces had ballooned into one unaddressed weight that bore me into the ground.

I think it may be like that for many people. The weight of just existing can become such a burden some days. People need an outlet to turn to let some air out of that balloon. For some it’s art, or music, or sports, or any number of other things, for me it remains people and perspective. I look at the burdens of the women at the YWCA, or the women I know who skirt that edge.  I hold tighter to my loved ones and realize that for right now… it’s ok to be unbalanced.

Question Of The Month – Coping

For quite some time now, adult colouring books have been promoted as the ultimate way to find peace within yourself and to leave your thoughts and worries behind. What do you do to clear your mind?


What I do to clear my mind and find inner balance varies based on how flustered my mind is. My go-to activity to clear my mind is to write in my journal – it has an almost 100% success rate. Writing about how I’m feeling, how I felt in a certain situation, how I made someone else feel, and ways I can work towards feeling better always helps. I’ve even taken a page out of Oprah’s book – I keep a Gratitude Journal. Every now and then, I’ll open this journal and write 3-5 things that I’m grateful for that day. Family, friends, good food, a warm bed – whatever makes my heart full and reminds me about how lucky I am, even when things seem to be at their worst.


I actually have yet to try the adult colour book. I have always hated “colouring” for some reason. I have always been in to drawing, but not filling in the lines with colours. I used to make comic books and ask my sister to colour them in for me when we were younger. Needless to say, I don’t think I will be buying an adult colouring book to relax anytime soon!

I like to think I have a pretty healthy way of dealing with stresses, and I think I cope quite well with things. Some things better than others, of course. The biggest thing I have learned so far is the importance of breathing during stressful times. It’s the simplest, yet can be the hardest. I remember when I was younger, anytime I would get upset and cry I would start to hyperventilate because I couldn’t control my breathing and I would just lose it. Everyone would tell me, “Just breathe, just breathe!” and I would think: “I’M TRYING!!” Now that I’m older, I’ve learned to control and focus on my breaths when I am going through something unpleasant. I am someone who gets worked up very easy, and am quite sensitive, so this is a coping technique I use regularly.

I think I really started to understand the importance of breathing from taking a few hot yoga classes. I took the VERY hot classes, Bikram yoga, and I had never done any yoga before in my life. I’m not very athletic, flexible, or anything, so it was a big challenge for me to do something like this. I ended up loving it! Yoga teaches you how to focus on your body, and control your breathing and mind to be in a calm state. I always left the classes feeling like the weight had been lifted off my shoulders (and I was also very, very sweaty). I can remember being in some very stressful and tense situations, and hearing that voice in my head go “inhale, and exhale… slowlyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.” Do you ever have those moments when something has really upset you, and you are trying not to cry? And then someone comes up and asks you if you are alright and it’s like a trigger to start crying? But you don’t want to cry in a public place? When that happens to me, I always deeply inhale and exhale and count my breaths to help diffuse the situation and keep my composure.

I also use the app “Calm” on my phone, which helps take you through different types of meditation. I only have the free version, so there aren’t as many options, but I love using it to tap out for 5 minutes and focus on breathing and my body. I would highly suggest trying this app out; it’s very convenient to turn off the lights in your office for 5 minutes and meditate. My coworker told me about it and it’s been spreading like wildfire. I also really enjoy laying down somewhere comfy, and putting on a few of my favourite relaxing songs. I consider it another form of meditating and losing yourself to the music. It’s easy to listen to the lyrics and the melodies and forget about your troubles.

Sometimes though, those things aren’t enough. I still let myself cry when I need to cry. I believe crying is a coping mechanism, and although it may not be the prettiest thing, it always feels so much better to let out all that anxiety and negativity through your tears. Sometimes you just need to let it all out and cry when you are going through something hard. I would rather cry than keep all my feelings inside and let it weigh me down. After a good cry, I always feel sleepy – so usually I go to bed and have a great sleep because I’ve let it all go. I wake up feeling better. A good cry can sometimes be the best cure.

When Happy-Go-Lucky Tries to be Sad

I’m what one might call the Happy-Go-Lucky type. On the majority of my days, I wake up happy and I go to bed happy. Mostly because I lack any real reason not to be happy. A bad day at work still means I have a job. An argument with a friend still means I have a friend I can argue with. A mother driving me crazy still means that at least I have a mother. I am fortunate. So when I do get sad, which happens much to my dismay, I am not happy about that. I went through a phase as a teenager when I tried to forbid myself to be sad. I forced myself to put everything in perspective. “In other places, people are starving right now”, I’d tell myself. Bad math test? At least I’m not starving. Broken heart? At least I’m not starving. Lonely? At least I’m not starving.

It didn’t work.

I tried so hard but when things suck, they suck. The entire rest of the world could have it worse but that will never change the fact that sometimes things will make me upset. If all it took for me to put things in perspective, I would probably never be sad again. But that didn’t work. So what does?

Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting or: The Beatles Approach

The Beatles - We Can Work It Out (single)When my sister was 12 years old, her classmate died. His dad had fallen asleep while he was driving. He and his daughter survived. His son didn’t. Neither did his marriage.  My friend was 25 when they found the brain tumour in his head. He died a year later. A friend’s mother had a brain aneurysm at the age of 40 and just dropped dead one day. No warning. Ron, my mother’s godchild, died at the age of 16 in a motorcycle crash. A girl who used to play in my brass band died on the school skiing trip when she was 18.

I could continue this list. But I won’t. Not a cheery list. But you get my point. Life is short indeed. It’s more than a phrase to me. I have seen it, again and again. Life can change and end in the blink of an eye. It’s terrifying.

And I truly do try to remember this when things make me sad. I don’t think that being sad is a waste of time, I think it is part of this beautiful, confusing, incredible life. However, there is only so much room I want to give sadness in my life. Because when all is said and done, I want to look back at a life lived happily.

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” ~ Mary Oliver

 45 Life Lessons

When my friend sent me the link to these life lessons a couple of years ago, my natural instinct was to roll my eyes. Those wannabe inspirational things are not my cup of tea. These lessons, however, did change my life. Not all of them stuck, I don’t even agree with all of them. But the one that I, to this day, still think of when something is threatening to make me sad is this one:

Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

You would not believe the healing power of that question. Because a lot of it won’t. Really just won’t and does not matter in the big scheme of things. Sometimes, that thought is all it takes for me to take a deep breath and pull myself back together.

Last but not least: Music

Music is part of my entire emotional life, not just the sad parts. But when I do get sad, boy! does music ever do the trick for me.

Girl with Guitar

If I am still at the stage of sadness that can be turned around, then try to stay sad when you hear those first chords of “Here comes the sun”. When I went through some big guy drama a few years back, I swear, “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World saved my life. I cha cha the sadness away in my living room to “Sway”, I will rock the blues away, playing “Run” by Amy McDonald on my guitar or I just lie on my bed and let “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” performed by Sarah Bareilles wash over me until I feel better.

But then there is the point of no return…

Sometimes, it is too late, it can’t be turned around, you just have to be sad. Then I do what Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie recommends and wash myself in the emotion. Coldplay is always good accompaniment for a decent cry fest or the odd Sarah McLachlan tune, although I can only handle her in small dosages. The ultimate music though, if you really just want to let yourself be depressed for a little while, is probably anything Damien Rice has ever sung.

But handle with caution, that stuff can drag you down on even the best of days! His music is so heartbreakingly beautiful, just grab that tissue box, a lot of cookies and hide under the blankets until the morning comes. You will feel so deeply sad that you can only possibly feel better after!

And now keep smiling 🙂