5 Coping Skills for When Life Gives You Lemons

I’m going to level with you for a moment. Sometimes, the ordinariness of day-to-day existence can feel like a big pile of dog poo wrapped up in a sparkly anxiety bow, especially in this current news cycle. When things get overwhelming and you find yourself wanting to quit, sob, or perhaps yell at the next stranger who cuts you off in the grocery store, take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and try out one of these age-old solutions instead.

  1. Shake Your Fists at the Sky Ceremoniously

Even if you’re an atheist, this is a tried and true method for tension release that will allow you to menacingly mime your disgust with your present state of being up to the clouds above. The technique is simple. First, form both of your hands into balls so tight that your veins bulge and your knuckles go white. Your fingertips should go numb from the pressure, otherwise you aren’t conveying your frustration intensely enough. Next, raise your arms overhead and stare gravely at the heavens, furrowing your brow and practically sucker-punching the air with rapid, jabbing movements. Vishnu, Allah, Jesus, or whoever the fuck ruined your day will surely get the message. Bonus points if you throw in a casual banshee wail.

  1. Stare Longingly at Walls and Off of Cliffs

Scholars have been practicing this approach for millennia. It works best when your particular brand of upset is more despondent than angry. When your workday becomes so overwhelming that you can’t even breathe, many of our country’s best minds find it helpful to stare blankly at the nearest wall with the kind of envy for its blank complacency that might make you melt right into it. Don’t be afraid to freak out your coworkers by coopting an empty conference room for hours at a time to truly master this technique. If you’re particularly outdoorsy or have the luxury of mountains right in your backyard, staring longingly into the void of a 1,000 foot drop off a cliff can achieve the same effect.

  1. Crawl Through the Mud in the Rain

Sometimes, when life gives you lemons, you need an activity that is the metaphorical equivalent of how you feel. If you’re lucky enough to live in a climate were it rains and you’ve taken to screaming at your laptop on a regular basis or have recently developed a subtle facial tick, this method is for you. Take a sick day on an afternoon with thunderstorms on the forecast and drive at least 3 hours away from your home. Park at a familiar trailhead and begin moving, only this time, you’re going to take all of your sorrow and rage and fury and channel it into a mud-ridden crawl on your hands and knees through the dirty underbelly of the forest. Lean into the gross. Gnaw on a tree trunk. Let squirrels nest in your hair. Pray that lightening comes so that you can cackle madly into the ether as the sky cracks with a blinding white glow. If you get good enough at this coping mechanism, you may never have to return to the city again.

  1. Commiserate with Ants

This technique might be best suited for the quiet or the introverted. Writers the world over often turn to nature to find a perfect mirror for their agony, and why should you be any different? Spending an entire day with your head against the ground watching ants carry a speck of orange peel back and forth is a perfectly good way to remind yourself that your existence is nothing but a menial tug of war between you and the fates that will eventually end with you in a tunnel in the dirt. Let their ordered chaos and near indistinguishability from one another remind you of pretty much every aspect of your city life as they scurry across the floor in hungry rows. If you find yourself becoming angry and wanting to squish or dismember the tiny creatures, you may choose to deviate from your original course, but if it persists, I would highly suggest changing paths and reconsidering techniques #1 and #3.

  1. Howl at the Moon Until You Wake Up the Neighbors

If you feel like your soul is about to make a steaming exit from your body through every single pore in your skin at the same moment, but you’re pressed for time, you might need to calmly walk over to the nearest window, open it, and bellow wildly at the moon. Be loud and indiscriminate in your bizarre noise making and invent new vowel sounds for optimal stress relief. Have you ever seen a wolf on opiates or Xanax? No. You haven’t. Because this technique works. It has superseded decades of talk therapy for millions of wolves, and it can have a positive impact on your life too. Just look up at the stars and start howling. Let the agonizing liminality of it all wash over you as you cry.

After completing any or all of the above steps, please treat yourself to a tall glass of water, a warm bath, and a good night’s sleep. We’re going to get through this somehow. Together.


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