Real-life Coping Mechanisms, Let’s Discuss

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By Monica Busch

Is everyone else feeling a little extra off lately, or is it just me? Given *gestures vaguely* everything, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, but October has so far felt extra chaotic, somehow, even for 2020 standards. (Don’t you hate how there’s literally no way to talk about anything anymore without calling this year out by name? I do.)

Like, if I’m being completely honest, which I try to be in this space, I’m at the point where I’m reminding myself to meditate in a vain and somewhat feeble attempt to prevent stress acne, and my friends, that’s not a great place to be. This has found me thinking a lot about coping mechanisms — not necessarily the like official self-help or therapy kind, but rather the methods of unwinding I’m actually relying on in real time to barrel through the rest of this year in one piece. (Although, admittedly, time isn’t real, so there’s no reason to think anything will be different come a new year. Fun!)

I wish I could say I’m prioritizing things like fresh air or personal grooming, but frankly, those have in many ways fallen by the wayside. Long gone are my morning walks, or any semblance of a regular nail-filing and painting routine. Here to stay, instead, are panic breads and podcasts, bubble baths and TikTok binges.

Anyway, in the interest of at least documenting this time in my life and maybe finding some common ground, here are some of the things I’ve actually been doing to try to stay sane:

  • Bubble baths, especially using this stuff, which they sell at Walgreens. I have the same scent in body scrub. TBH, if everything in my life could be lavender scented, I’d probably be just fine with it.
  • Baking bread, but not like early-quarantine complicated yeast bread — beer bread. (That’s bread with a can of beer in it, btw.) The other night I spent 3 – 4 hours on the customer service line with my phone carrier, and in that span of time I made this go-to recipe. If I had to waste my precious waking hours on the hold with people who don’t want to talk to me as much as I don’t want to talk to them, I figured I should at least get something out of it. This recipe, btw, has an entire stick of butter in it.
  • Working out. I know, that’s annoying to hear, but it’s true. And for me, it works. I told Mary that when I’m feeling particularly glum, I try to do a really hard workout in the training app I use, and I regret to report that she said that was DBT in action, which means it makes sense. Do with that what you will!
  • TikTok binges. That speaks for itself, but man, does it help to just stare idly at the little doom box in my palm and laugh hysterically at whatever comes up on my For You page for a good twenty minutes straight. If you’re still one of those people who thinks they’re too good for TikTok, I really don’t know what to tell you.
  • Watching scary things. I finished The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix this week, and it was just the right algorithmic recipe to forget the real world in episodic intervals. If you’re tired of being scared about the state of the actual world, perhaps try instead being scared of a haunted murderous lake woman and metaphorical mouse traps.

I also try to meditate semi-regularly, as I said, but that one’s hard to keep up with.

What about you? What are you *actually* doing to unwind?

Monica Busch is Talk Vomit’s prose editor. She is also a journalist caring for two rambunctious dogs and two standoffish cats.

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