How are you coping, really?

Here is a daily fifteen minute psychological workout - particularly useful now to help you through the pandemic!

“How are you”? is such a short and simple question but if you want to take control of your psychological wellbeing you might want to make a little time every day to answer it fully. In this article I will offer a daily psychological well-being workout that can really help you to keep balanced, focussed, avoid excess stress and anxiety, improve your relationships, your health, in fact anything that is crucial to you.

Grab yourself a piece of paper or open a new document on your computer and ask yourself the following three questions. I always recommend spending about fifteen minutes and aiming for a side of A4 or 500 words. Usually most of your writing will be involved in answering question 1, less on question 2 and even less for 3. Try not to think too hard, there’s no right or wrong thing to put down, just write whatever comes to mind. If you can do it everyday it will become a natural part of your daily routine but don’t worry if you can’t or if you miss a day - anything is better than nothing. Just like any workout it should start to feel easier and more natural after a while. 

Question 1. What thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations are you having right now?

This question is designed to help you build a good picture of how you are right now. 

Identifying what your thoughts are is key to showing you whether you are experiencing a mental landscape that is positive or negative. It also gives vital information about what you are focussing on and then also what you are not. 

Knowing your feelings and identifying to what degree they are positive or negative also gives you a good indicator as to whether you are under stress.

Finally your body and how you experience it is another great source of information about how you are coping.

A short example:

“Right now I am thinking about this mornings news, also about how my family are, also today I was supposed to be going to a conference, earlier I was wondering about when the supermarket would be open today. I am feeling quite optimistic but also a little apprehensive. Thinking about that conversation with my partner I feel irritated that they think I am doing too much. I’ve noticed my stomach is unsettled, it feels a bit like I have a knot, it feels uncomfortable and there’s some indigestion too. I’m also feeling tired and I’m not thinking particularly nice thoughts. Last week I was thinking all about how I was looking forward to the warmer weather and being able to get outside into the garden and do all those things I’ve been looking forward to getting done. I was also feeling pretty positive about how I’ve lost some weight lately and I was enjoying feeling how my clothes were feeling comfortable. Yes just last week I was doing much better than how I am today.

Question 2. What sense do I make of how I am feeling right now?

This question gets you to take a step back and think about what is going on for, and around you that can help to explain how you are.

For example:

“I remember that yesterday I got an email from an old friend of mine who has not been well. I had been thinking about him and wondering how he was doing. On the news there was a piece about the illness and it didn’t sound positive. I remember feeling sad and helpless and then I quickly closed the email and didn’t reply, which is unlike me. My stomach starting hurting shortly after and although I’ve been avoiding looking at the news I found myself watching the 6pm and 10pm news programmes. They were talking about how families are coping at the moment and what shops are doing. I also decided to start that project organising my old books, I got quite tired. I suppose that the email yesterday had an unsettling effect on me. I am worried about my friend and I don’t know what to do.

Question 3. What should I do today? 

Answering the first two questions fully gives you a very clear view of how you are and why, so now you will be able to decide on whether you need to take any action.

For example:

“Usually when my stomach hurts I find going out for a bike ride helps relieve the tension and settles my indigestion, mainly I think because there is something about it that both breaks the pattern of me thinking too much whilst also helping me to decide on what to do when I am uncertain about something”.

I hope you enjoy using this workout. Stay safe and well!