A checklist to help identify your current state of mind
Have you ever had that feeling that everything is just not ok? Your mood is low and motivation just won’t come. Sometimes all we need is to change our perspective a bit and everything starts to feel better.
Before giving in to the overwhelming feelings, we can take a short inventory of our immediate physical and emotional needs. Identifying needs can help determine if there are some action steps we can take to get ourselves out of our current state of mind.
It is rather surprising to me how, as a society, we neglect basic human needs and then cannot understand why we don’t feel well. If my car is acting up I will check all the necessary gauges to determine if I have enough oil, gas or need a tune up. When the air conditioner or the heater in the house is not working properly I will attempt to identify the problem. Why is it that when the most important machine we have, our body, is not working optimally, do we not give ourselves the same courtesy as we would an inanimate object? Most of us can rationalize ourselves out of personal care and instead decide there is something “wrong” with us and there is no hope.
When I get into this predicament I try to suspend judgment on myself and go through a short checklist of some of the important things I need to do every day to ensure good physical and emotional well being. As a matter of fact, my clients will tell you that one of the first things I will discuss with them is how well they are achieving the items on this list.
1. Have I had enough water? You would be surprised by how many of us are not hydrated enough. Our body needs water just like a car needs gas; and you know we would never let our car run out of gas! If we are tired, hungry, cranky or feeling low, sometimes getting enough water in our body can help alleviate those symptoms. The standard amount of water we need every day is approximately half our body weight in ounces, so – body weight/2 = amount of ounces of water per day. Get a water bottle to keep track.
2. Have I eaten in the last 3 hours? Another place a lot of us are deficient. Again, like gas in a car, food in our bodies gives us the energy to keep moving. Protein is best to sustain long term satiation.
3. Have I stretched my legs/walked in the past day? Even if our energy level may be low we can always take a short walk. Sometimes going to the mall or a large store to browse. Maybe even go to the zoo or the park. Dancing around to music can really help to clear the head.
4. Have I taken all my medications as prescribed or have I changed any lately? Sometimes it takes a little while to feel the full effect of a medication, or maybe a dose has been forgotten. Check the side effects of any new medication and if the feeling does not change soon, call the doctor.
5. Have I showered lately and am I dressed for the day? Sometimes we can jump start our mood by just taking a shower or a bath. Clean clothes and something nice can change the perspective.
6. Am I tired or unable to sleep at night? Maybe you have a good reason to be tired. TV, smart phones and computers can disrupt our sleep rhythms and make it difficult to fall asleep. A good sleep hygiene routine can help to unwind and settle the mind. This link can give you some pointers: Sleep & Dreaming
7. Are you in contact with other people? Have you been kind to them? We often forget that when we do not have human contact for an extended period of time that we can feel shut off from the world. Go get a hug, snuggle a pet and be kind to other people. Be genuine in your effort. Studies show that it really helps!
8. Have I seen my therapist lately? If you are currently seeing a therapist, perhaps it is time for an appointment? No therapist? There are many great therapists in the community, do some research to find someone that may work for you. It can really help.
9. Do I feel ineffective or do I have some decisions to make? Get up and do one thing. It can be small but maybe you have been putting it off. Take out the trash, do the dishes? If you need to make a decision then maybe by refocusing on something else can clear your head. Take a few minute to prioritize your time and add in small breaks.
10. Am I expecting too much from myself right now? Sometimes we just need to pause and sit with our feelings. Perhaps just a little time will make all the difference.
Experiencing a variety of different emotions is a natural and unavoidable human reaction. The emotions themselves are not the problem. Rather, problems arise when we are not fully aware of our emotional states and pay attention to what our emotions are telling us. The next time you feel a certain way and don’t know the reason why, try asking yourself the questions listed above. You may find it helpful to review this checklist to determine what your body, and your mind needs to start feeling optimally again. Taking an inventory of your physical, emotional, and mental health periodically throughout the day is a great practice and will help you maintain focus, increase energy, and allow joy into your life. So, don’t be afraid of your emotions – instead, learn from them!