This is the eleventh article in my series about Managing How You Feel, which aims to give you many options for influencing your emotional state.
Tip No 11 - Check in regularly with yourself
It might sound strange to recommend that you check in with yourself as a technique for managing how you feel, but this is a really key idea.
If emotional regulation is challenging for you, its likely that feelings and thoughts are able to build up and build up, getting to a stage where they are too much, and potentially even explosive. My favourite metaphor for this is to think of yourself as a bottle of pop. Life shakes you, each little event that does not go as planned adds some more fizz. Like the pop bottle shaken repeatedly, you can get extremely fizzy. Then, something bigger happens. Like a pop bottle dropped, you may even explode.
So what can be done about this? The ideal is to let the lid loosen just a little, regularly. Small ssssss of gas escaping takes the pressure down, restoring a sense of calm and a little less fizz.
The human equivalent to this is regularly checking in with your body to notice what it is you are feeling. Initially you may not have emotion words to put to it. You may instead be noticing a churning tummy, or a tight back. Whatever it is that you notice, I recommend spending a little time breathing with it, just gently focused on it while you breathe through your nose (if possible), sensing what you feel, and acknowledging the emotion that goes with it.
Hard to remember to check in? Why not set a phone alarm every few hours to remind you? It takes just a few moments, and it may well help you spot patterns and trends, to give voice to things you have not yet noticed, and best of all, to let some tension out so that you have more capacity for every day living.
If you would like support in noticing more and attuning to what you really need, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a message on my confidential answer machine on 0191 3720318.
Tips so far in this series:
1. Change where you are looking (up to lessen intensity, down to increase it)
3. Use your breathing
4. Pay attention to what you sense right now (what you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste)
5. Recall a memory when you had the emotional state you want now
6. Ask yourself what would someone you trust/admire say?
7. Count 3 Gratitudes each day
8. Connect with nature
9. See things from different perspectives, someone elses's, a fly on the wall...
10. Come up with at least three explanations for what has happened