I am continuing my theme on stuckness and balance. When you find that you are stuck, consider that you are out of balance. If you look at the wheel of life, where is it flat?
We talked about physical balance last article. Today I want to move to emotional and mental balance. I’m going to say it, if you have mental health issues, please see a counselor. You are worth working through and clearing the deep issues for a life of joy with the appropriate professional.
Emotional and mental balance run together. It is so close between how we feel and the thoughts we have. And the reverse is true. Our thought can stimulate related emotions.
I think the emotional/mental duo is key to our happiness and well-being.
We have a lot more control in this arena than we think. This is where we can change hell to heaven.
First, it is important to assess where we are. It is impossible to know the end if you don’t know the beginning. A good scale is the SUDS (Subjective Units of Distress Scale). The scale goes from 0-10. You can pick what you want 0 to be and what 10 is. For example, if you have a headache, the doctor is going to ask you how bad your headache is, it on a scale of 0 is no pain and 10 is pain so bad you have to be in the hospital.
I have used this scale for flexibility. In this case 0 would be no flexibility and 10 might be like a gymnast.
For this article let’s make the scale correlate along a color scheme of red, yellow, green (like a stop light). 10 would be high green, feeling great and 0 is a low red, feeling gnarly and ugly. The goal would be green.
Where are you now: 0 to 10?
As you go through the day, survey yourself as to where you are sitting on this scale 0 (red) to 10 (green)? Fill in the blank _______________.
No judgement here. Where ever you are sitting on this scale, notice the feelings you are having and the thoughts that are going through your head.
Feelings: _______________________ and thoughts _________________.
Do you want to change your position? You might be really happy in green. If you are in yellow or red, would you like to change, move up the scale perhaps?
Do you have any strategies when you are feeling poorly? Someone might get up and walk outside for 5 minutes. What do you do?
Our brains can be hijacked in a nanosecond. If the brain perceives danger, it goes into survival mode. While in survival mode the frontal cortex can’t think at all. When we are in survival mode everything is related to past or future which doesn’t help us in the moment..
The trick is to get the brain back on-line and out of survival. You may have some strategies to help. Then do them. This is where presence and mindfulness come in. Frankly that sounds good when everything is great. How to get into presence or mindfulness in the middle of a rotten moment?
First thing we need to do is get some oxygen in the system. When things go bad, we don’t breathe well. Breath is just in upper chest in short waves because we are angry or frighten. Oxygen levels go down, carbon dioxide levels go up and further stress the body. So… breathe. Deep breath in and out slowly. As good count is 4:8. Now inhale to count of 4, exhale to the count of 8. Can you do this for 10-20 seconds?
Next, focus on the breath. Notice cool air in, warm air out. Sit with this exercise for 10-20 seconds. You will change your altitude.
Notice what is going on in your body. Most people notice tightness along the center vertical line of the body. That would be the jaw, shoulders, chest or stomach. You don’t have to do anything. Just notice. Practice the breathing as you focus on the tight area of you body. Allow the sensations to soften and relax. If you experience some softening around the tightness, that is great!
It is a good time to do a post assessment. Where are you on the SUDS scale 1-10? You will have to practice this to experience changes but it is so worth it.
I would love to see your comments. Please leave them below.