Welcome to week two! This is the week of Self Care and Coping.
What is self-care? What is coping? Why the heck do we need them? Can’t we just, like, pop some Prozac or Benzos and call it good?
No. No, you can’t.
As you’ll find in the coming weeks, your prescribed SSRI, Anxiolytic, Cyclic, anti-Psychotic, or whatever medications you take only address one small part of the web that is Anxiety and Mood Disorders.
So. What is self-care? Self-care can be defined as a conscious action taken to ensure your basic functional needs are met on a daily basis, to ensure mental, emotional, and physical health. This can be structured out as seen in a hierarchy of needs. The most commonly known is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The lovely thing about the linked article is that it also includes the expanded hierarchy of needs, which adds on three additional levels that scientists have since added. Maslow’s Hierarchy has seen its share of criticism over the decades and has been expounded upon a number of times. While the initial proposal has been examined and changed, the base theory that one must address certain needs before others can arise or be cared for still stands. An alternate hierarchy of needs can be found in this article here, (Note, the previous link is a research article which is quite information and text heavy. Take your time!) or in this image here for those with less time.
The expanded hierarchy of needs is as followed:
- Biological and physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
- Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, etc.
- Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).
- Esteem needs – which Maslow classified into two categories: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and (ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).
- Cognitive needs – knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.6. Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
- Self-actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
- Transcendence needs – A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond the personal self (e.g., mystical experiences and certain experiences with nature, aesthetic experiences, sexual experiences, service to others, the pursuit of science, religious faith, etc.). (sourced from www.simplypsychology.org)
Self-care, in my mind, covers the first three tiers through proper hygiene, healthy eating habits, sleep cycles and such. Then the second tier is covered by finding stable living space, that one can keep an orderly environment in that is particular to one’s self, as well as ensuring that one’s community is also a safe and stable environment. (This one is hella complicated.) The third is achieved through finding the appropriate level of socialization with the correct group of people.
Self-care can also go out into a more fun aspect, things like giving yourself proper decompression time; like reading a book by yourself or taking a bath or walk or engaging in a hobby! Self-care can be a way of refreshing yourself after a stressful stage or event to ensure you can continue on without burning out. Here’s a great video from How To Adult on the subject. I’ve found there’s not a cure all self-care routine. Sometimes I want to bake. Sometimes read. Sometimes I wanna hangout with my parents or friends and sometimes I want to take a bath in total silence, with only candle light. It depends on the events of the day or week.
Coping is an understandably misunderstood subject. Coping itself is a general term for a group of behaviors that one engages in to relieve feelings of stress. From here, coping can be divided into adaptive, or constructive coping, which reduces stress, or maladaptive coping, which increases stress. Often maladaptive coping is not recognized as such because it provides short-term relief from the stressor. Constructive coping will provide long-term relief. Coping can also be divided into reactive, or proactive coping. Reactive coping, actions taken after exposure to the stressor, often falls under the maladaptive category, and proactive, action taken in anticipation of the stressor, often is constructive. Proactive coping can often be intertwined with proper self-care.
Coping can refer, in simplest terms, to either psychological coping, how you prepare or react mentally, or physical coping, dealing with physiological or environmental instances. Schema and Cognitive-Behavioral therapies deal with faulty psychological processes and coping mechanisms, whereas Behavior Therapy deals with retraining poor habits, though all of them seek to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes and moods.
Changingminds.org provides an in-depth list of coping mechanisms, including the list of Defense Mechanisms Anna Freud(Youtube link!) developed. I am personally a fan of understanding our personal defense mechanisms as not only a predictor of our behaviors but also as a clue to what we can choose as healthier alternatives to the faulty mechanisms and coping.
Sounds so simple, right?
Nah. Not really.
But that’s what we’ll focus on figuring out how to do during the week two posts. We’ll go over the difference between constructive and maladaptive care and coping, how these different strategies look in real life, the types of therapies that focus on them, and how they affect our health.
“Action, Soren always felt, was the best remedy for sad feelings.”
-Kathryn Lasky, Guardians of Ga’Hoole