This is a fabulous check-list for our current stressful times. It features many of the properties I talk about when I teach my "Listen to Your Body" workshop. I encountered this check-list when I taught the 1st edition of "Listen to Your Body" at The Tarot Society in Brooklyn. I feel like this check-list should be hung up in more community spaces as a reminder to check-in with ourselves before jumping to conclusions that we're doomed. This was originally created by a person named "Sinope," as her own personal reminders - not all the information contained may make sense for you, but I think it's pretty universal! Perhaps you can use it as a springboard for your own personal check-in list for when you're not feeling like your "true self."
I'm going to outline what it says and add some extra thoughts:
1. "Are you hydrated? If not, have a glass of water."
When we're dehydrated our mind slows down its proper functioning (sometimes leading to headaches) and our skin begins to feel dry creating uncomfortable feelings. If you can't think of the last time you had a glass of water that day- it's time to drink some!
2. "Have you eaten in the past three hours? If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs. Perhaps some nuts or hummus?"
I've definitely been guilty of feeling 'hangry' - when you're angry and stressed because you're blood-sugar is low and you can't think straight. It can be really tempting to just grab anything to eat in these moments (ie: a candy bar), but you'll feel way better if you have something healthy. I recommend keeping some almonds & a little bit of dark chocolate on you if know you're going to be away from healthy options for the day.
3. "Have you showered in the past day? If not, take a shower right now." Taking a shower can really make a difference. You can be alone and the sound of water passing over your body cuts out other distracting sounds while the warm water relaxes muscles. I've definitely had moments where I was upset and just sat down in a shower to let my mind relax for a bit. You can add essential oils to your shower for an aromatherputic boost too!
4. "If daytime: are you dressed? If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas. Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress." In winter it can be hard to get up and get out of our warm pajamas in the morning. It's good to have cozy warm clothing that's you can wear outside so you can take a walk to clear your head.
5. "If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep? Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed. If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure." Sleep often eludes us when we're stressed. Be sure to have hthe room a comfortable temperature (a little cool is best) and to slow your breathing to help you get to sleep faster. It's best if you can avoid you phone/computer for at least 45 minutes before bed time to help with melatonin production. Try to keep an enjoyable book by your bed so when you can't sleep you feel more inclined to read than to check your phone.
6. "Have you stretched your legs in the past day? If not, do so right now. If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please. If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip." Stretching is very important to keep the body feeling well and functional. I've had times where I felt stressed and then had body pains that made me feel even worse. Sometimes just a few very gentle yoga/stretch movements can help alleviate that pain which then helps the rest of your stress subside.
7. "Have you said something nice to someone in the past day? Do so, whether online or in person. Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it." Sometimes when we're stressed we get into what I call "cynical circles" of talk. Everything we say is negative and it further pushes our bad mood. Brightening someone elses day can often help you feel better inturn.
8. "Have you moved your body to music in the past day? If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song." Music therapy! Music inspires us. Our bodies want to sync to the beat and that helps us change our disposition. Getting your body moving produces endorphins which make you feel more upbeat.
9. "Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days? If not, do so. Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets. Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them." There is nothing better than a human or animal hug!
10. "Do you feel ineffective? Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip. Good job!" This time of year we can feel like we have a boatload of tasks. Get something small done that helps you move forward and then you can work towards larger goals!
11. "Do you feel unattractive? Take a goddamn selfie. Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like." I also recommend taking time to have your own "beauty night" - this could involve using a clay mask on your face, painting your nails, trimming your beard, taking a bubble bath, etc. See how you feel after you tend to yourself .
12. "Do you feel paralyzed by indecision? Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day. If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable. Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial." Moving forward and not letting yourself be stagnant if often the best for getting through the day. I hate that feeling of "I got nothing done today!" Weigh the pros and cons. Work through things critically. Doodle, put post-its up. Figure out what will help you the most in the longrun.
13. "Have you seen a therapist in the past few days? If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then." Write your thoughts down so you can go into your appointment clear-headed. Don't go to therapy? Talk to a trusted friend.
14. 'Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually? That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment." Sometimes it's hard to s-l-o-w down. When you start over-exerting yourself your physical and mental health will suffer. Give yourself a break!
15. "Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand? That may be screwing with your head. Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down." The body works best with regularity. I've even had times where I skipped a simple multi-vitamin and felt sluggish If you're switching or trying some new medicine/vitamin/supplement give it some time to see how it really makes you feel.
16. "Have you waited a week? Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause. It happens. Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then.
You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through.
You are stronger than you think."