I knocked over my glass of water for the third time, and spent 10 minutes looking for my keys… which were in my hand. “I’m just off today,” I muttered to myself. But “off” from what? What does that odd feeling of just not feeling right mean to you? How do you know when you’re “off?”
For some people, “being off” means feeling like their emotions are a bit off kilter: Emotional reactions seeming much bigger or dramatic than the circumstances warrant. For others, their thinking is out of alignment. Whatever the cues or symptoms, the key to identifying an “off” feeling is the ability to know when you’re not firing on all cylinders.
Only then can you can make the choices that will get you back on track.
If you caught a cold, you would slow down, drink more fluids, rest more, and generally take care of yourself until you start to feel better. How is your mental health and focus any different?
If you notice that your focus or emotions are off or that, for whatever reason, you are not quite balanced, there are productive things you can do to make yourself feel better, and there are unproductive things that may make you feel worse.
Unproductive things to do when “feeling off”
- Be hard on yourself in any way
- Be hard on others
- Focus on other people and their shortcomings
- Make major decisions
- Get into arguments
- Focus on important plans, strategies, or life changes
- Think about your life, relationships, career, really anything of importance, and analyze what’s wrong about these areas and what should be done about them
- Do tasks, errands, or work that you find draining
- Take on or begin a new project or life change
- Allow yourself to do negative self-talk (beating yourself up through internal dialogue)
Productive things to do when “feeling off”
- Be good to yourself
- Take a bath
- Find a creative outlet, and use it
- Eat food that is nourishing and good for your body
- Slow down and bring more mindfulness to the details of this-now-moment
- Take time to check in and see if your body has a need that is not being met: rest, hydration, nourishment, connection with others, etc
- Encourage an attitude of softness
- Take a walk in nature or go hiking
- Go to a museum
- Go see a movie
- Get a massage or go soak at a local spa
- Curl up in bed with a good book
- Listen to music that soothes or pleases you
- Remove some things from your schedule on those days.
- Take a “mental health” day from work
- Ask for help or support
- Communicate to those around you that you aren’t at your best (if this is appropriate)
- Set boundaries…say no…
- Allow your self-talk (internal dialogue) to be kind and soothing
- Treat yourself how you might treat a child if they were not feeling well.
Bottom line is that when we are in a tender, raw, or emotional space, for whatever reason, this is when to let up and take it easy. It may seem counter-intuitive, but slowing down when you need to, but don’t want to, will help you maintain your core strength, and allow you to be kind to yourself and others.