As human beings we experience so many different emotions and some of them aren’t pleasant. When you’re feeling sad or low or upset or maybe anxious or lonely what do you do? I’m a firm believer that we have all the answers to our problems inside us. What we often need help with is unlocking those answers and that’s where a Therapist or Coach can step in. However, there is so much we can do for ourselves and I’d like to share one tool with you today.
Often when we are feeling bad we forget that we know WHAT WORKS for us – we forget those little actions that bring us up to the next level of functioning from which we can jump up to the next level, until we’re back on our way to feeling more positive. I’ve recently started keeping a list of go-to activities that help pull me out of a slump and when I’m feeling rubbish I rely on the insight of the happy resourceful version of me (the ‘normal’ me who wrote the list!). I look at it and pick one thing to do. I’ve found that with my things that work it’s the simpler the better – here’s my list:
• Talking to friends/ mum/ sister
• Meditation via the Insight Timer app
• Tea- don’t underestimate the power of a cup of tea and 10 mins rest
• Wrapping myself in a blanket and lying on the sofa
• Epsom salt bath (candle lit optional)
• Watching non -violent easy TV like The Crown or Grace and Frankie
• Writing in my journal
• Going for a walk in Epping Forest
• Listening to a Podcast (current fave is Love Stories with Dolly Alderton, I also love Desert Island Discs)
• Sitting with the feeling and seeing what happens (not so easy but very effective)
• Yoga ( love, love, love! I ALWAYS feel better after a class)
• Being around other people – I do miss working in an office sometimes so my solution is to go to a coffee shop just to be around people or meet other self -employed friends for some co-working
• Cooking real food – the whole process – finding a recipe, shopping for ingredients, cooking it then eating it!
Basically, the above things are all nurturing activities. Many of them have become regular non -negotiables which help me to keep me on an even keel – maintenance if you like. For example, I book a yoga class at least once a week, I make sure I get real human contact a few times a week as I’m prone to loneliness, most Saturday nights you’ll find me in the bath before the good TV starts. What would be on your list?
Bit of a caveat – I’d like to highlight the difference between healthy activities and unhealthy distractions here. For example, one of my ‘activities’ is sometimes drinking wine. I haven’t put this on my go-to list as sometimes it helps but mostly it really doesn’t and I end up feeling worse. Generally these days I have to be in a good place to start with when I drink alcohol otherwise it’s not a good idea (and it’s only taken me 37 years to work this out – you’re welcome!) So, the rule of thumb is only put an activity on the list if it really does make you feel better and isn’t just a fix. (this might rule out shopping, social media, Tinder, recreational drugs – you get the picture). Some self – awareness and honesty is required, sounds kind of obvious but worth pointing out all the same.
This simple and wholesome stuff has really changed my life and I hope you make your own list and it serves you as well as mine has served me. I would love to see your list – if you’d like to share it with me please write it in the comments below.