#SWW: Finding Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Every week we celebrate ourselves and our journeys with Self Worth Wednesday. A roll call to embrace our messiness, step into our light, and love who we are in this moment. A huge f-you to society for telling us how to look, feel, and act so we can be accepted, approved, and loved. A rebellion against the lies hurt people filled our heads and hearts with about who we are.

I'm coming at you today with a little friend-to-friend moment because there's something you need to know. Self-care is turning into a gimmick and coping mechanisms are starting to look a lot more about spending money.

Do not get me wrong. I love that the mental health conversation is becoming louder but I'm worried. Everywhere I turn there are "get your bath bombs for Self Care Sunday" or "I'm face-masking today to self-care." And no, I'm not knocking these as coping mechanisms. Skincare and pampering yourself is valid.

However, the problem is when these are the only coping mechanisms being thrown out there as normal, acceptable, and the best. Essentially the "this is how you know you're doing self-care right."

Pause. Hold the phone. Nope.

There are tons of healthy coping mechanisms out there and they're all perfectly normal. Here, I'll show you:

  1. Going to see a therapist because, sometimes, you cannot do this on your own.
  2. Enjoying a hobby you love and maybe doing it with friends who enjoy it too.
  3. Writing the things you love about yourself or are grateful for each day.
  4. Painting and making an absolute mess because that's how you're feeling.
  5. Meditation and yoga may seem like a gimmick but I've tried both personally. Wonderful.
  6. Listening to music and spending this time alone.
  7. Gardening, again one of my personal favorites, or doing any yard work.

You can even see the difference in healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms by reading this blog post on Positive Psychology Program.

But, I want to focus on one coping mechanism in particular.

Enjoying a hobby: photography; my favorite way to express myself.

I have always been ready for the camera for as long as I can remember. My mom could tell you stories on how she would ask me to take a photo and I'd be posed H2T, head to toe. When she and my dad bought me my first handheld Kodak digital camera, I took it everywhere, or at least it felt like it! On our family trips, around the neighborhood, I was attached to it.

I don't remember exactly what year I decided self-portraits were therapeutic but it was probably around 2006 or 2007. This was after starting a photography page on MySpace to show off my mom's garden and my still life shots.

I remember one overly edited photo during my teen angst that became a little more popular than I was ready for. It said "set me free" on this blue sticky note and it was overlooking Auburn, AL when I was in college. But, that's beside the point.

Self-portraits became this cry for help, this step into confidence, this fantasy world. I would get dolled up and crawl through the woods of a park to a creek to shoot. I would create this space in my dorm room, style a fit, and shoot with only a self-timer.

In fact, I just started using my phone as a remote for my camera this year at home. 

This hobby of mine turned into an ode of love to the girl I was leaving behind, the woman I was becoming, and who I was in that moment.

It spurred poems, which was my first coping mechanism at age 11. It got people asking who the photographer was and for people to realize a one-woman-show isn't always a bad thing. It started conversations between friends and got friends in front of my camera who hate being in front of the camera.

With these self-portrait sessions, I am able to see my progress in style, confidence, and love. I am able to love myself as a whole instead of picking myself apart. If I'm not feeling my best, if I'm being overly critical, looks like it's time for another adventure out to photograph myself. I'll schedule it like a date because yeah, you should date yourself, and put in the effort to look my best in what feels the best.  

The greatest part is playing an album of the moment and letting myself move to the lyrics.

Yes, I said the lyrics and I meant it.

Yeah, you can move to beats and rhythms but listen to those lyrics. Feel them. Own them. Changes the whole experience.

Okay, but what's the point?

Stop believing the hype. Discover your own healthy ways to cope.

You don't have to pull out your wallet every time you're stressed and you feel like crap. You don't have to be into makeup, skincare, and yoga. 

You can choose to find the things that light you up when you've had a case of the Mondays and it's Thursday. You can find hobbies that don't involve cameras or other people. Or, maybe you're a social butterfly and you need coping mechanisms that allow you to be that.

Again, the goal is wellness. Not by some strict set of rules but by guidelines that you can bend here and there. It's your life. You get to choose how to live it and how to walk in it.

How do you cope and what do you think of self-care nowadays? Leave a comment below!