Setting aside quiet time for self-reflection or journaling can be a wonderful self-care routine. Additionally, it can create a deeper self-understanding towards how your emotions affect your thoughts and behavior.
What most of us do when we experience uncomfortable feelings in our body, is either do something to change, avoid, or ignore them, instead of trying to identify and understand what we’re feeling.
For example, too much drinking, eating, working, exercising, spending time on social media, are some of the familiar behaviors that we all engage in from time to time, and all of them can be used as strategies for either disconnecting from our bodies or changing how we feel.
Increasing emotional awareness allows you to slow down and become aware of what it is that you are feeling. Once this is in your awareness, you don’t just react automatically, but you have a chance and the freedom to choose how you want to respond to the world around you.
This takes a lot of practice, so be gentle with yourself. It is like any other skill; you need to do it over and over again until it becomes something that is effortless and automatic.
The following questions can serve as your guide. You can journal about your reflections or simply take some quiet time to be curious about your inner experience. Notice any sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts that may be arising, without judgment or trying to change them.
1. Name the predominant feeling(s) you’ve experienced in the last few days/weeks?
2. Is this emotion(s) familiar to you? In what situations have you experienced the same emotion?
3. What “positive” or “negative” strategies have you been using to manage these feelings?
4. Is there an emotion you are trying to avoid? What is most frightening about this emotion?
5. If there is a message in that emotion? What is it trying to communicate to you?
Once you have a sense of what it is that you tend to experience during stressful times and the way you are dealing with it, ask yourself if there is a better way to manage your feelings? When I say better, I mean in a sense that it is not simply a strategy that brings relief in the moment, (but actually adds to your stress over time). If you were able to utilize a different coping strategy, could this minimize your stress?
*DISCLAMER* Blog posts are created with a goal of sharing my personal reflections as well as practical tools and tips to create relief and increase your wellbeing. Please note that, while I hope that information I share is going to be helpful, it is not meant to be a substitute for therapy.