Virginia Satir, a noted family therapist, said, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be; it’s the way it is. The way you cope with that is what makes the difference.”

I agree and work to develop, maintain, and protect my Coping Skills and Mechanisms. For example, getting enough sleep is a big assist to good health. I take a nap daily. I found during aging that my ability to sleep eight hours a night waned due to discomfort from increasing arthritis, often resulting in short nights of 4-6 hours.

So each afternoon I set aside time to cuddle up with whatever book I’m currently reading and read until I nod off. It is a wonderful break in the day and affords me an escape from the day’s stresses and challenges.

It is a healthy way to “reboot” and rejuvenate my system. For me, I have found setting an alarm for just over an hour to be perfect – enough time to let me read a little bit before my nap and not so long that I go too deep. Too long a nap causes me to wake up groggy and lethargic, as well as makes it hard to go to sleep at night.

Another healthy Coping Mechanism I utilize is DISTRACTION. To prevent depression or becoming enmeshed in a cycle of anxiety and self-isolation, I set up “play dates” with friends. Maybe we can meet at a restaurant or entertainment offering. Maybe for an exercise or craft class or to go “treasure-hunting” at garage sales or thrift stores. Maybe taking a group class in American Sign Language, Cooking, Watercolor Painting, etc… whatever you’re interested in.

I like writing – stories, Facebook posts, poetry, etc. I also enjoy practicing the thespian arts – and attending a local Reader’s Theatre group every Friday morning. I also like painting. I’m not very good at it, but that, IN NO WAY, diminishes my enjoyment of doing it! My favorite Kurt Vonnegut quote is, ‘I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.’

Maybe you’d enjoy joining a special interest club or volunteer organization… you’d be amazed how good it makes you feel to pay a little rent on the space you take up on the planet. You’ll always sleep easier knowing your efforts have made the life of another person (or animal!) BETTER!

❤️❤️❤️ Where you go or what activity you do is not the point. The point is to continually make and encourage those connections with others! ❤️❤️❤️

An example of this is inviting friends to come over for snacks and friendly rounds of Rummicube (or other games to play, or creating group crafts, etc.). We visit while playing, and besides enjoying a good distraction, we sometimes unload challenges we’ve been facing and brainstorm various ways we might remediate those challenges. We encourage and support each other during these “play-dates” and always feel better about just about everything at the conclusion.

I just recently learned from a friend about a fun craft called Diamond Dot Painting, so I’ve ordered a set of small kits and will be inviting friends over soon for a craft gathering. It was inexpensive and will let us try something creative and new to see if we like it. I will ask my friend who introduced me to it to “teach” us about it. But the really important thing that will be going on is CONNECTING WITH OTHERS – relaxing, learning something new for happiness/fun/fulfillment of creative urges, making new friends and maintaining those already existing relationships.

These play-dates help us develop, maintain, and cement these important relationships. For many of us as we age, we often have kids who live far away and may lose our spouse, so staying socially connected and involved with those outside our nuclear families becomes a lifeline!

Now I’ve got to go get ready for the “Wonder Women” who are coming over this afternoon for snacks and games. I find I not only enjoy the actual gathering itself, but also the preparations for it – the sprucing up of the house, the creativity involved in trying new recipes for yummy snacks, dressing in a favorite or funny outfit that makes me happy, fixing my hair, etc.

So let me leave you with this query…

WHAT ARE YOUR HEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS? Maybe I can learn some new ones from you to add to my toolbox!

By Missy Masterson Hale

Featured Image: Missy with friends at Hot Springs Village Animal Welfare League benefit event

Missy Masterson Hale HSV Author

Missy Masterson Hale

Missy Masterson Hale is a Registered Nurse, Geriatric Care Manager, Professional Legal Nurse Consultant, and a Representative to the State of Arkansas’ Silver-Haired Legislature. Since she retired from the Area Agency on Aging as their Director of Health Services, she has returned to acting in community theatre, most notably playing the lead role in “Texanna”, a musical written in honor of Texas’ Sesquicentennial and produced by the State of Texas. Her favorite role was as Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” and The Writer in “Words”, an original play by HSV playwright, Glenn Calloway. In late summer 2022, she will be directing an Old Time Radio Theatre, “Vintage Hitchcock.” She has also written and produced several instructional and educational videos for nurse’s aides, canine behavior pieces for national publications, and poetry on a variety of topics. Missy lives on Lake Balboa in HSV with her Golden Retriever, “Brother Butter the Benevolent and Beloved”, a German Shepherd named “Bellatrix the Brave and the Beautiful”, and a geriatric Cockatiel named Bart. She loves to read, write, train dogs and take long road trips for good barbecue. She is a past President of The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors and holds an additional degree in veterinary nursing.