All the feels. All of them… or so it seems. After the rapid changes, cancellations, social-distancing, decision-making, scrambling to meet work and school requirements, rushing to gather food and supplies that could be necessary, and facing potential loss of job and income, it’s normal to be left feeling all the feels. This pandemic has left us all in uncharted waters. And for many, that means responding to day to day life scenarios in less than helpful ways. Tempers shorten, patience withers away, frustration boils over, grace is in short supply, and peace remains just out of reach. When experiencing an influx of emotions, we must harness them and use them for the wonderful and helpful tool they are, lest they run amok and cause unintended damage.
Emotions themselves are not bad, though they can often feel that way. Emotions are intended to serve as a check-engine light for the soul. When the check engine light appears on your car, you schedule a time for someone to take a look under the hood. To ignore it is to risk further, and much more costly, damage to your vehicle. Emotions are our check-engine lights. When they’re firing off, it’s time to take a look under the hood, lest we endure more costly and long term damage. So what should you do when you notice your check-engine light is on? Ask yourself these three diagnostic questions to get things back on track. Free worksheets are available below to help guide you and your child through this process.
Adult Emotion Check-In Worksheet
Feelings Check-In Worksheet for kids
What are you feeling?
You have probably experienced a plethora of emotions over the last week of rapid change and global concern. Don’t leave the emotions swirling around unnamed. Take a moment to tame your emotions by naming what you’re feeling. By labeling a feeling, our emotional response is calmed and we gain control and insight to move forward.
What are you thinking?
Emotional reactions are most often a product of the thoughts we allow to take up residence in our minds. Have you ever willed yourself to do or not do something? How did you do that? How did you create the inner determination to accomplish what you set out to accomplish? You thought your way to it. You changed your thought from, “I have to have that piece of cake,” to “I will not eat that cake. I will not eat that cake. I will not eat that cake!” The same is true for any emotion. They are born of our thoughts. After you identify what you’re feeling, take a moment to investigate what thought gave birth to that emotion.
What can you change?
Now that you know the source of your feeling, you can more easily regulate your emotions by examining the thought. Once you’ve identified the thought, ask yourself, Is this thought true, helpful, realistic, and kind? If not, consider alternative thoughts or how you might modify the through so that is true, helpful, realistic, and kind.
Taking the time to do an emotional check-in can make a dramatic difference. If you notice yourself cringing at the thought of writing out your thoughts and feelings in this format, then I urge you: journal, draw, paint, talk to a friend (at least 6 feet away, for now), just find some way that allows you to regulate “all the feels” and navigate the waters ahead. If you experience higher anxiety than most, it might be helpful to take breaks from media, your phone, and even thinking about the current pandemic. Set times to break from the information when appropriate and enjoy your family, nature, or being creative. Laugh and be active. Enjoy the life that is yours today.
Navigating all the feels with you,
Tiffany Raley, M.A.
Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.
Bradberry, T. & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego: Talent Smart.
Siegel, D. J. & Bryson, T. P. (2011). The Whole-Brain Child: 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. New York: Random House.