One Small Step to Happiness: Coping Mechanisms

by Rebecca Kerzner

Our lives are full of changes as we grow and become ourselves. During college, we try to figure out who we are and what we want for our individual futures. Naturally, this process is not always as smooth as we may have anticipated, and we face moments of difficulty. These moments, once they present themselves, can cloud the mind ☁️, and we may feel that this uncertainty will never end. At its worst, there have been times in my life where I felt that I would be unhappy for months and would start to feel numb, wondering what the happy days used to feel like.😞 Somehow though, with distractions and the passing of time, the sadness eventually passes and life continues. We find those things that somehow get us through the tough moments, sometimes without even realizing it. A couple summers ago, I found my thing.

Back when I was a wee freshman in college, I went through a difficult breakup. 💔 It was a two and a half year relationship that had started all the way back in 11th grade. I had grown up with this person, had changed with him and had learned a lot about myself through the relationship. He was like a best friend to me. But as it goes, some fundamental differences got the best of us, and we figured ending our relationship was the best decision for us both. It was hard. Really really hard — especially at first. I was super melodramatic at the time, constantly telling my friends that, “there will be nobody that ever loves me again” 🙅 and  “I don’t even know who I am anymore”.

For a while I ignored the sadness. Attempting to pretend I had moved on the minute it ended, I found distractions in anything and everything. If there was anything I could do to get my mind off the breakup, I would. But at the end of the day, when all was quiet, I still had this feeling of emptiness that couldn’t be fixed. There was nothing I could do to fully rid myself of those thoughts; every moment of happiness I experienced felt stale and temporary.

There was some distractions I grew to really enjoy. I would busy myself with funky healthy recipes🥗, circuit training workouts🏋️‍♀️, and Zumba💃. I made exercising even more fun by creating high-energy pop playlists that I would secretly yell/mouth as I ran on the treadmill at my local gym. There was this one song I used to play, at the very end of every workout, like a moral of the story, during which I would run my short legs as fast as they could go. The song was called “Peanut Butter Jelly” by Galantis. I treated it as a melody that had no other purpose other than to lift me out of my bad mood. Visualizing all my negative emotions, I channeled that energy into the song and the running feet beneath me. In that moment, nothing else mattered.😌The song became my mantra, and whenever I felt like I was about to break, I played it — or my friends did for me –, and together we would dance it out. Casually tearing up, I would be pumping my fist to the beat of the song and try to convince myself it wasn’t all that bad as I simultaneously laughed and cried.😂 It’s funny, but I think that going through the motions of a “happy” person actually forced me to be a little happier. By the chorus of the song, I always found a way to lift myself up just a little bit more.

I’ve realized now that this song wasn’t just a mere distraction, it was my coping mechanism. The song was my way of letting my mind take a rest from trying to comprehend my emotions. Every person should have one. These outlets include so many different things from playing sports, to hanging with friends, to mindlessly sifting through Facebook memes. All of these activities have one thing in common — when we engage in them our brains focus on something else. So even though the past hardship still exists, taking time off from those negative emotions to emit more positive ones is a crucial part of the coping process. These distractions in essence, are the steps to moving forward out of the coping stage and into a better, happier, more positive state.✌️💖

 

So, what’s your coping mechanism?

🦄 Listen to my healing anthem here. 🦄

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