When you don't feel like yourself...

Have you ever had the distinct feeling of disconnect and uncertainty that just isn't quite like you? Maybe you've noticed an odd feeling of being uncomfortable in your own skin?  It's hard to describe, but you just feel different?  Maybe you don't even recognize yourself anymore?

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To me, ‘feeling like yourself’ is an experience of attunement to one’s emotions, as well as having a sense of familiarity, regularity, and predictability of one’s thoughts and feelings. 

 

Some may notice this as self-confidence, general positivity, certainty, contentment, and a sense of peace or ease.

‘Not feeling like yourself’ is a tricky situation to be in.  Usually this feeling is indicative of something important going on in the individual’s life, but this can be challenging to pin-point.  Common experiences of this range from major life events or changes in roles (i.e. moving, starting a new job, experiencing a breakup, getting married, having a baby, surviving a trauma, grieving the loss of a loved one, etc.), to feeling disconnected from friends and loved ones or simply neglecting self-care or daily needs (i.e. not getting enough sleep or poor nutrition).  While less common experience of ‘not feeling like yourself’ may include mental health concerns (i.e. anxiety, depersonalization, derealization, psychosis) or even having the feeling like you are on the verge of something new.

When clients tell me they don’t feel like themselves, they often express a feeling of distress or disorientation. 

The good news, is that this feeling may not be signaling anything ‘bad,’ per se, but rather an important shift or change happening. 

 

In fact, ‘not feeling like yourself’ my be an opportunity for further growth and development. 

To reconnect to yourself, first try these Grounding Exercises

  • Physical Grounding:

Sit comfortably in a chair, feel your sit bones in the chair, feel the weight of your body in the chair, feel yourself being support by the chair.  Consider your feet, notice how your feet feel in your shoes, try wiggling your toes, then firmly dig your heels into the ground, feeling the sensations happening in your feet and legs.  Place your hands on your legs, gently squeezing and massaging the tops of your thighs, mentally repeating to yourself ‘these are my legs.”  Orient yourself to the room you are sitting in.  Slowly turn your head side to side, scan the room, notice what or who you can see, mentally labeling all the things/people around you.

  • Mental Grounding: 

1) Play a mental game with yourself by labeling all the food you can think of in alphabetical order (i.e. A = apple, B = burrito, C = casserole, D = donut).

2) Think of a movie title (e.g. Titanic), then take the last letter in that movie title and think of a new movie title (e.g. Cars), and continue.

After you have done some grounding, which should help to decrease anxiety or disorientation, then start to get curious.  Consider journaling about your experience to get a better understanding of what may be causing the disconnect.  Look more at triggers, or experience that came just prior to ‘not feeling like yourself,’ and also look at coping skills, or what you do that helps you to feel more like your yourself.

Next, check in with your loved ones, the people that you have close relationships with, who may be able to assist you with further connection, sense of safety and familiarity, and support as needed. Feeling 'off' may be very isolating, and you may even have thoughts of shame about your experience.  Make sure to connect with others and share. Remember, you are never alone.  

Lastly, beware of the feeling of urgency to try and reduce the discomfort caused by 'not feeling like yourself', which may lead to impulsive behaviors or rash decisions making that may be counter-productive.  Therefore, use coping skills (see above) to work on distress tolerance to sit with the discomfort and decrease the struggle around ‘not feeling like yourself.’ 

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3 Nourishing Ways to Navigate Family Visits During the Holidays

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The holidays can be a joyous, exciting, and fun time, but they can also be challenging and a true test of patience, ego, and individuation.  One of my favorite quotes by Ram Dass sums this up nicely:

"If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family."

 

You may have been practicing yoga for years, have a daily breath practice, keep a gratitude journal, carry crystals in your pockets everywhere you go, and bathe your house in essential oils and smudge sticks galore, and all of this cannot guarantee that you will not completely lose it when challenged by difficult family members.

Setting your intentions in preparation for a family visit is key in helping you stay grounded and calm.

This is all about identifying values, creating goals, and using coping skills when things get sticky. Try to make this a special time of ritual, reflection, and brainstorming.

Start with a 5 to 10-minute breathing exercise, such as:

  • Box Breath: Inhale slowly for the count of 5. Hold breath in for the count of 5. Exhale slowly for the count of 5. Hold breath out for the count of 5. Complete 3-5 rounds.
  • Langhana Breath: Inhale on the count of 4.  Exhale on the count of 6. Complete three to five rounds. Inhale on the count of 5.  Exhale on the count of 7. Complete three to five rounds. Inhale on the count of 6. Exhale on the count of 8. Complete three to five rounds.

Next, move on to an Intention Setting Breath by inhaling deeply and fully as you imagine that you are taking in something that you need.  Pause.  Exhale slowly as you imagine letting go of something that no longer serves you. Example:  Breathing in compassion. Breathing out judgment. OR Breathing in strength. Breathing out fear. OR Breathing in confidence. Breathing out self-doubt. Repeat five to 10 rounds.

Whatever intention you land on during this breathing exercise (i.e., compassion, strength, confidence, love, authenticity, patience, integrity, etc.), use it in a Writing Exercise to clarify your values:

  • Write your intention in a positive and affirmative statement.Example: “I am love.” OR “I am confident.” OR “I am authentic and true.”
  • Make a list of your top five core values, including your intention. Consider your important beliefs, opinions, qualities or states of being, and interests. Describe why/how these values are important to you?
  • Make a list of five coping skills, useful and effective tasks, or self-care activities that help you manage stress and reconnect to your values (i.e., taking a walk, breathing, listening to music, setting a boundary, etc.). Then, make a plan for how you will use these during your upcoming family visit.

Lastly, expect the best, but plan for the worst. You know your family best and can probably accurately expect certain snafus over the holidays. Therefore, consider the potential barriers that may get in the way of a smooth celebration and prepare to use the coping skills you identified above. And, just in case, think of an escape plan, or how you can appropriately excuse yourself from festivities if needed.

Above all, remember that the holidays are meant to be filled with love and celebration and make a commitment to do your best to uphold these ideals.

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