Coping isn't Doing me any Good

I felt the familiar stirrings of a headache starting up as I walked back home from the school run. My to-do list was long and I was keen to crack on. You see, coping is what I do well.

Go to the profile of Karen Fugle
Oct 10, 2018
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I felt the familiar stirrings of a headache starting up as I walked back home from the school run. "Slow down", I told myself. Once home, I confronted the mess and turned on the taps to start the dishes. Without even realising it, I'd pushed my headache aside, even though I knew I could end up with a stronger headache later in the day. My to-do list was long and I was keen to crack on. You see, coping (soldiering on, managing my way through, getting on with it) is what I do well. 

A headache? Ignore it or take a painkiller and carry on. Only I've come to realise, that coping isn't doing me any good in the long run.

Do these sound familiar to you?

  • As a mother, I put my children's needs first and my own last
  • As a people pleaser, I say yes to others and no to myself
  • As a business owner, my work is never finished
  • As a list-writer, I have tasks cross off before I can relax
  • As a perfectionist, I want things done right, so I do them myself

All of these things mean that I look after others, do the housework, get on with work. I plow through the day without a thought of taking care of myself.

•    Coping means I don’t stop 
•    Coping means I don’t ask for help
•    Coping means I take on more than I should
•    Coping means I’m ignoring my mental and physical health

My coping measures are masks for my anxiety.

If I carry on coping - boom - a migraine will force me to stop and crash. I get nothing done, often for a few days. I believe I should be strong, capable, independent. I should be the carer, not the invalid. I feel guilty, frustrated and more anxious about not achieving anything. As soon as I am on my feet again I am back to “getting things done”. Self-care is a luxury. 

Not today, though. “What are you doing!” I said to myself! I turned off the kitchen taps and left the dishes in the sink. After 20 minutes of yoga, my headache had disappeared. 

I realised today that I have options  - ignore (bury, mask) the anxiety or deal with the anxiety. If I prioritise myself and invest in some self-care, then I don’t have to put myself in a position to cope. 

  • Is self-care a luxury or a necessity for you?
  • When you are anxious, do you bury it or deal with it?
  • What patterns can you notice in yourself?
  • What would you change?

#worldmentalhealthday

Go to the profile of Karen Fugle

Karen Fugle

Executive Coach, SleepingGiant Consulting

Hi Life Lab readers. I specialise in working with visual and creative individuals - architects, designers and those who like to create, draw and diagram when they think. My background experience in the architectural sector means I’m right at home with people who love what they do and are keen to “design” their career rather than leave it to chance. Creative careers often go hand in hand with perfectionism, energy-sapping deadlines, strong attention to detail and a long-hours working culture. This demands a level of focus, resilience and self-belief - areas that I often help with. As a qualified and experienced Executive Coach, I really enjoy helping creative people get ahead in their career. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about coaching and how it could help you.

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