Originally posted on Austin Family Counseling
Frequently, we can find ourselves feeling worn down and grumpy, without an understanding of what could have caused that feeling. There wasn’t a bad day at work, or a fight with a friend, and you can’t pinpoint anything else that has happened to you – but you still know you’re not at your best.
Anytime we’re not feeling right, it becomes more tempting than ever to reach for items that can provide some quick comfort. Downing a shot of tequila or loading up on tacos might relax you in the short term, but that feeling is not going to last.
Many times, the healthier solution to feeling better is maddeningly simple. In honor of May being Adult Mental Health month, here are some questions you can ask yourself in order to get back on track to feeling like you again. Some may stand out to you more than others do, and this is fine – everyone’s priorities look different.
How am I sleeping?
I know, you’ve heard this a million times. But maybe your bedtime has been inching later and later as you try to fit in one more client email, or perhaps one more episode of The Great British Baking Show. You have so little time in the day, and you’re trying to make sure it all gets fit in. But just like your grandmother has been telling you your whole life – not getting the sleep your body requires truly can mess with your health, and make you feel lousy.
On the other hand, if you’re going to bed at the right time, ask yourself how well you’re sleeping throughout the night.
How am I eating?
It’s amazing how often we can find ourselves feeling fatigued or sick, only to realize that we forgot a meal at some point during the day. Next time you’re feeling gloomy, ask yourself when and what you last ate. Breads and pastas are delicious (as well as comforting), but they may be slowing you down and contributing to your lack of energy.
When did I last exercise?
You don’t have to hit the gym or jog four miles every day in order to benefit from exercise. Go on a nature walk, play basketball with your kids, or challenge your friend to a swim race. Exercise will clear your mind at the same time that it reenergizes your body – especially if you do it outside.
Am I overstimulated?
Stimulation is anything that is picked up by your senses – sights, sounds, smells, etc. Certainly, some stimulation is necessary, but being overstimulated can feel unpleasant and aggravating. If you’re frequently in an environment that you find too loud, too bright, or generally chaotic, it may be leading to your sense of overwhelm. Surprisingly, even your own mind can be too stimulating – sometimes it’s satisfying to daydream, but we can become so carried away with imagined situations that it makes us stress even more.
Do I need more alone time?
Everyone needs space to themselves now and then, but if you consider yourself shy or introverted, this question is particularly key. Depending on your job and lifestyle, you likely interact with people all throughout the day, and it can be draining to keep that up –especially if you’re also a parent. Consider using work lunch breaks (or your kids’ naptimes) to take advantage of some peace and quiet.
Do I need to socialize?
It might seem strange to pose this question after discussing the importance of alone time, but social time is equally important. Ask yourself when you last spent time with your closest friends, or went on a romantic date with your partner. It’s okay to take a day off from people now and then, but be mindful of how much alone time starts to hurt you instead of help you.