Feeling out of sorts?

Do you ever get those mornings when you wake up feeling out of sorts and you can’t figure out why?

Well, that was me this morning. I have days like this from time to time and there won’t seem like a logical explanation for it until I give myself a little gentle questioning and quiet time to let the answer surface.

I’ve invested lots of time, money and energy in all sorts of self-development work over the last 15-ish years and so I tend to combine bits and pieces that work for me. What I was doing this morning draws on breathing techniques I’ve learned from a therapist I see occasionally, some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques, questioning and listening from reading Dr Darlene Minnini’s Emotional Toolkit book, and self-compassion practices from Professor Paul Gilbert.

I thought I’d share this with you so you could give it a try the next time you find yourself feeling out of sorts too:

  1. Find some quiet time on your own where you won’t be disturbed – allow around 20-30 mins if you can.
  2. Close your eyes, breathe in for a count of five and let it out as slowly as you can (around a count of seven is ideal). As you breathe out, consciously drop your shoulders and say ‘relaaaaaax’ in your mind.
  3. Call to mind when you’ve been compassionate and kind to someone else and see the expression and hear the tone of voice and type of words you used.
  4. With that same tone of voice ask yourself questions like ‘How am I feeling in my body? What is my mind focusing on? Is there a tone of voice to my thoughts?’ Try not to judge anything that comes up – keep your compassionate tone and think how you’d treat your best friend or a small child.
  5. Now you have a couple of clues from the questions, ask yourself if you are feeling e.g. angry, sad, disappointed, overwhelmed, worried, lonely, etc. Again, just pay attention to any signals from your body or mind and don’t judge – you might feel tears prick, or a clench of your fists or jaw, or another word or insight may float up to you.
  6. Tell yourself ‘it’s okay to feel that way, it’s safe, I accept it’ or whatever compassionate words you need to hear. Then ask yourself ‘what do I need to do for myself to feel better?’ Listen to what comes up. You might be surprised at how simple the answer is.
  7. Take three slow deep breaths, open your eyes and go do the thing you need to feel better, or if it’s something longer-term, take the first step towards it.

Let me share how this worked for me this morning.

When I got to 4. I realised I’m feeling tense and agitated in my body. My thoughts were whirling all over the place and had an urgency to them and a tone of – it’s hard to describe – but kind of an impatient parent/teacher. My thoughts were focused on my Lightopia work and how Little Light Room fits in or doesn’t – whether they should be combined. Where I should put my main focus in the talk I’m doing later this month. How I’ll achieve the public research and engagement I want to do – what questions I need to ask. The people I need to follow up with from conversations I’ve had this last few weeks. And generally my brain was buzzing with the information I’ve learned, the complexities of this field and how can I help people best?

With these clues, I asked myself am I anxious? Excited? Resentful? Overwhelmed? Bingo. Tears pricked with overwhelmed and a little voice floated up saying ‘what if I can’t wrangle all this into something useful and I’m wasting everyone’s time and making sacrifices I don’t need to make?’

There was something else too. I gave myself this week off from my freelance work because I wanted a break. I promptly filled my diary with meetings, calls, an event, and wrote myself a big to-do list! I have been aware of and joking with others about this all week as being typical of me!

I’ve been enjoying the work I’ve been doing and I’ve been seeing/speaking with friends and my fiance too – I’ve had a grand week! But what floated up when I asked what I needed to feel better was ‘a cup of tea, don’t schedule today and just do something that gives me pleasure this morning before I go to my meeting’.

So here I am, lovely, sharing some thoughts with you, because I decided that what would give me pleasure is to just write in my own voice and see if I could share something that might come in handy for you one day – and I really hope it does!

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