Coping Tools

Posted on: December 7th, 2017 by

As my readers know, 2017 has been a real crucible for me.

Let’s face it, I’m ready to put 2017 in the books and welcome 2018 wholeheartedly. As someone who has experienced steadfast grief, sadness, and emotional duress in 2017 — with the lowest points being my aunt’s death and the up-and-down-and-down health of my father — my heart has repeatedly been torn apart.

But through all the trials and tribulations, I’ve made a re-discovery. I have a powerful arsenal of tools I’ve historically used to calm me before doctors’ appointments and to soothe me during my darkest moments of cancer survivorship. I decided to share with you the tools I’ve been using and will be using to help me cope with the grief and difficulties life is dishing out.

This is not to say that my toolbox will or should erase grief and sadness. And I’m not saying that we should cast aside our grief and just be happy all the time. On the contrary, my toolbox helps me better cope, and coping is all we can do day-to-day. That’s the best we can do.

Here, then, are 10 of my tools that have worked for me that I have started/plan on using to alleviate the stress of life. These are not numbered in any order of importance.

1. I’ve started exercising more. Exercise does a body good, right? Right. I’ve been walking 20-minute miles for an hour most days a week, either outside or in the gym. And I’m so grateful I can do this activity. The endorphins last into the next day, and I even feel rejuvenated. And I feel good knowing I’m helping my bones.


2. I’m eating healthy, but I won’t turn down chocolate!

3. I’ve allowed play and a sense of fun back into my life. My daughter makes sure of this. Just last night we spun dreidels, even though it’s not yet Chanukah. We did “extreme dreideling,” doing a variety of tricks and tossing the spinning dreidels up in the air — sometimes too high. Ari and I laughed so hard. My sides were hurting. And I realized that it had been too long since I had laughed.

4. I plan to start doing artwork again. It’s been way too long since I sketched or put a brush to canvas. Doing such an activity puts me in a great state of flow. This will help me cope with the hurly-burly of life. Luckily, Ari shares my passion for art, and we’ve discussed with each other our next oil painting projects.

One of my paintings

One of my paintings

5. My love for reading has been re-ignited. For years after chemotherapy, reading seemed so labor-intensive. Not anymore. I’ve been working on reading every day and am not hard on myself when I can only read a page some nights or have low-focus moments.

6. I make sure I get enough sleep most nights. I realize that sleep is one of the most important things we can do to take care of ourselves.

7. I listen to music — a lot.

8. I’m throwing myself back into writing, another source of flow. I’m trying my best to blog each week. I love writing and feel liberated each time I write.

9. Did I say, chocolate helps?

10. I have a lot to look forward to: from having snowball fights with my daughter to teaching at a school I’m happy at to cuddling my Hemi (our tuxedo cat).

What do you do to alleviate stress? I would love to hear about it.

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8 Responses to Coping Tools

  1. Becky had this to say about that:

    I make healthy chocolate … three ingredients … cacao butter, cacao powder and maple syrup :-)

  2. Kathi had this to say about that:

    A great list and a great plan. Life always manages to throw us curve balls, doesn’t it? We need to balance them out with fun and peace and sout-nourishment. I hope 2018 is kinder to all of us, Beth. xoxo, Kathi

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thanks, Kathi. The losses in our breast cancer community have been understandably painful, too. Hoping next year is better.


  3. Nancy Stordahl had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    I like your list. We all need tools to help us cope better. Writing is my #1 tool. As you might have guessed, right? I’m sorry 2017 was such a rough year for you. Of course, it’s not like flipping the calendar will make your grief lessen. But I’m glad you have these tools to help you face whatever comes your way. Thank you for sharing your list. Hugs.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      Thanks much! Yes, writing is truly cathartic and is a top tool for me, as well. The list really does comprise my tools, and I’m hoping that others in difficult situations can reflect on the tools they use to help them get through the rough times.

  4. Melissa Smith had this to say about that:

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to read tonight. Being a writer myself, I know that feedback is important. I thank you for writing this.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Melissa,

      From one writer to another — a hearty Amen! There’s nothing like the joy of writing.

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