My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 27

Week six of my IOP is off to a pretty good start. I was a little nervous because stupid daylight savings time started this weekend. I hate daylight savings time. It messes me up for about a full week. But I was feeling OK today.

For my check-in, I talked about my weekend. It was a good weekend even losing an hour. I got to spend it with my kid. We didn’t do anything too exciting. We went thrifting and we showed my parents the art show where their grandkid has a piece up. Like I said, not terribly exciting, but a nice weekend.

Our first topic of the day was on healthy and unhealthy coping strategies. In case you don’t know, “Coping strategies are actions we take-consciously or unconsciously-to deal with stress, problems, or uncomfortable emotions.” Unhealthy coping looks like using drugs or alcohol, overeating, or isolating. Healthy coping looks like exercise, healthy eating, or using social supports.

We ran through some scenarios where someone used a bad coping strategy and we had to replace it with a good coping strategy. Then we filled out a chart with our own unhealthy coping strategies. I picked junk food and rumination as unhealthy habits. I’m hoping to replace them with healthy eating and mindfulness. We were also given a log to track our use of coping strategies.

For the last hour, we talked about avoidance coping. It’s basically when someone changes behavior to avoid thinking about, doing, or feeling unpleasant things. It’s one of those things that feels good in the moment but leads to bigger problems down the road. The paradigm example we talked about was procrastination. I think everyone knows that putting off a task doesn’t make that task go away. And when you finally have to do the task, there’s even more pressure and stress than there was before. But, in the moment, it feels good to not do the task. So, we procrastinate. It can also look like avoiding someone you need to have a conversation with or avoiding social situations because you won’t know anybody.

That was about it for today. Like the weekend, not terribly exciting but good. Hopefully we’ll continue the good streak tomorrow.

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