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  • Vicky Tan

Note to self: USE COPING SKILLS (and bonus wholesome memes!)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here; work and life got busy. What better way to break the silence than memes, and how they relate to coping skills! For those who don’t know what memes are, here’s an overview of internet memes. (Heads up - if you search for meme examples, be aware that some are not safe for work.)

Let me backtrack. When you are trying to make changes to your thinking and behaviour, it’s important to have reminders of what you’re trying to do. New skills do not become habit overnight, particularly because our carefully-laid plans often go out the window when our emotions are running high. When my clients learn new coping skills in a counselling session, I often ask them to consider what they will do differently, when they will do so, and how they will do it, including how they will remember. It doesn’t matter if the reminder is small, silly, funny, or random; in fact, the weirder and more personal it is, the better because it sticks out in your memory. It also helps if you put the reminders in a place you go to often, or in the places where you would like to try your new behaviours.

For example, I had a therapy client who needed to practice grounding techniques when she was out and about. She kept a fluffy toy sheep key chain in her handbag as a reminder - she loved sheep and found them very calming - and also to serve as a tactile thing she could focus on by using her sense of touch. Other ideas:

  • change your phone or computer backgrounds to a memorable image that reminds you of the new strategy

  • put up sticky notes, pictures, or even therapy worksheets in prominent places

  • write or draw things on your hand

  • keep physical objects in your bag or pocket

  • set reminders on your calendar, set repeated alarms on your phone, or use useful apps that send notifications

  • put the tools you need to support your new habit where you can see it

  • tell supportive people what you're trying, and ask if they are willing to remind you at certain times

The list can go on - the thing is that you have to experiment and use what works for you.

I sometimes make memes in order to make therapy concepts more personal and memorable for younger clients. If it gets someone remembering to use their skills, I won't turn it down! (Let's be real, I'm a child of the internet, I will never turn down memes.) Additionally, some nice memes - wholesome memes - can be used a light-hearted way to cope during a stressful time.

Here’s a sampling of mental health memes I’ve made using imgflip's meme generator for clients, and for family/friends who requested memes about certain topics or using certain meme templates. I will add to this page if I create more psychology-related memes. If you find them helpful, please feel free to take them for personal use - or make your own reminders!

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