Pokemon Go Taught Me About Mental Health Coping Skills
Monday, July 25 2016 Becky Oberg
Pokemon Go has taught me many things about mental health coping skills. Coping skills are vital to recovery--they're the bricks and mortar of building a new foundation for your life (Coping Skills for Mental Health and Wellbeing). Coping skills vary by person, and one of mine is playing Pokemon Go (I have the weight loss, buff legs, and sunburn to prove it). Here is what Pokemon Go taught me about mental health coping skills.
Stupid Mental Health Coping Skills Do Not Exist
First, there is no such thing as a stupid coping skill. As we said in the Army, "If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid."
Yes, you may be 20 years older than the target audience--I spent my Saturday with nearly 2,000 other people in that situation. So what? If it's helping you stay safe, sober, and sane, then it's worthwhile and not stupid. Embrace recovery--even if that means doing something others mock.
We all have coping skills--some positive, some negative. The object of life is to eliminate negative coping skills while developing positive coping skills (Mourning the Loss of a Negative Coping Skill). Coping skills are as unique as people--we all have different ones. What works for me may not work for you, and that's okay. The important thing is that it works.
As long as a coping skill is healthy and effective, it's not stupid. Even if it involves chasing fictional animated characters around the nearest city park.
Ignore Haters of Your Mental Health Coping Skills
Some people can not stand to see other people happy and will attack their coping skills or them personally. For example, there are memes suggesting Pokemon Trainers get a Careerasaur or a Jobachu, or that a PokeGym be built outside the unemployment office, or that we have a game called Workemon Go in which we run around searching for jobs. Some people are so miserable that they can't stand anything that brings joy to other people. The hacker collective PoodleCorp comes to mind--they've threatened to shut down the servers because they can.
Some people will always be negative, and these toxic people will try to drag you down with them. Don't let them. Tell them to find their own coping skills because healthy people don't go around mocking others' efforts to stay healthy and safe (7 Basic Signs of a Toxic Relationship). Healthy people support each other in this difficult journey called life--they don't try to bring someone else down just because they don't like the other person's coping skills.
Pokemon Go taught me to identify, isolate, and eliminate the negative influences in my life.
Pokemon Go Mental Health Coping Skills Won't Work for Everyone
A Mexican proverb says "What cures Sancho makes Marta sick."
Pokemon Go is not for everybody and that's okay. When it comes to coping skills, you have to find what works for you. If it's Pokemon Go, great. You'll meet a lot of like-minded people doing good things for themselves. If it's not, that's okay, too. You simply have a different coping skill. Pokemon Go taught me what works for one may not work for another.
One of my mother's coping skills is cleaning. Anyone who's seen my apartment can tell you it's not one of mine--I am the queen of clutter. While relaxing for my mother, cleaning only aggravates me. Mom's standard is "passes the white glove test," my standard is "fit for human habitation." I know my Pokemon, Mom can't tell a Magikarp from a Horsea. What works for her does not work for me, and what works for me does not work for her. That's normal and that's okay. What works for you is what works for you.
Pokemon Go also taught me that a mental health coping skill's effectiveness will vary. Some days a coping skill may be extremely effective, other days it will be a chore to use it. That's normal and that's okay. As long as you stay safe, sober, and sane, that's what counts--it's all about the end results, not the process.
What lessons have you learned about coping skills?