Are you in a rut of feeling bad?
You know you need to do something…but what? When you're feeling bad it can be hard to tell what self-care you need, and when we don't know what to do it's too easy to stay miserable and do nothing. You're busy taking care of kids, house, work and the dog for goodness sake, you barely have time to think of dinner, much less to take time for deep introspection about what you need.
How can our biggest emotions be our guides to feeling better faster?
We're not such simple creatures that we only feel ONE thing at a time, but for myself at least, I often have one overriding feeling. If I pay attention to what that is telling me, I can regain some of my positive attitude and feel more able to deal with underlying issues that need attention. This main emotion is my clue as to where to start when I feel stuck in a rut.
Once you notice a pattern of emotions pointing to a specific need, you can take better care of yourself because you'll know what to look at first.
Here are my common emotional clues, with the needs they indicate to me; yours may be completely different, but this can help you think about what your strongest emotions are telling you. Do any of these feelings indicate the same needs for you?
Everyone in my family seems ungrateful and annoying. Their every sound grates on my nerves. WHY does he have to clap like that? Make that humming sound? Why do they always need food and clean clothes – every day?!!
Needs: Time to Myself, Say No to Extra Commitments, Ask for Help
When I'm feeling resentful I usually need to find a way to get a little break. It is worth the effort to find someone else to watch the kids. The trick is to use the alone time for something that allows my brain to unwind like going to the local used bookstore, or even blissfully grocery shopping alone.
I might need to notice if I've been saying yes to too many activities, taken on too many responsibilities or if I have set an expectation of myself that is unrealistic.
And often, I need to ask for help from my spouse or my kids. If I'm feeling resentful, I may be trying to do it all alone.
Feeling: Quick to Anger
All of a sudden I am yelling before I even realized I was about to snap. Dang, where is this temper coming from? Have you ever felt stuck in an angry phase?
Needs: Notice if Anger is Covering Other Emotions, Find New Parenting Tools, Rest and Eat Well
First off – the basics. Bad sleep and eating sugar turn me into a monster, so those are things I look at.
Secondly – is that anger is covering another emotion? Often I am feeling angry because I am also feeling guilty, powerless, scared, or sad. If I can find what I'm scared of, or what I'm feeling guilty about, I can look at how to deal with that.
Thirdly – If I am feeling powerless, scared or angry, I might be in a new phase and need some new parenting tools. As my kids grow I keep having to refresh the parenting tools I use. It's perfectly ok to discard what is no longer working and find something that will better serve our families. I take a look at my favorite parenting books (scroll down to find the books), call a friend or research for solutions online.
My to-do list is so long it's tangled around my feet and tied itself into knots. Do you ever feel totally overwhelmed and almost paralyzed by it?
Needs: Make a List, Say No to Extra Commitments, Ask for Help
Often all I need is to take one little step to feel less overwhelmed – it doesn't even matter if it's exactly the right step. Making a list and choosing one thing to do on it helps. Asking for help with something on my list helps too.
And once again I mention saying no to extra commitments. In our highly connected world we are presented with unending opportunities to “get involved!”. Saying no to something doesn't make you a bad person; it makes you a person who sets limits on their time. It takes courage and makes you and your family happier.