Reflections University / Career

1. How Are You Feeling?

Four words. One question.

How are you feeling? 

I remember stopping in my tracks when I heard the question with a perplexed facial expression that probably read, ‘was that directed to me?’. I was confused. Here was the Head of the Freshers events, an important annual event asking me how I was feeling. In the moment the first thought that came to my mind was “Oooh this is interesting, why are you asking me how I’m feeling? Surely I should be asking you because I’m not the priority right now.” (Alhamdulilah I am the President of an amazing society at LSE this year). And because of this logic, while I was appreciative, I did find it strange when people consistently asked me throughout the week how I was feeling.

A week later with the occurrence of several pressurising incidents, ‘How are you feeling’ was the prompt that I needed to get myself together. While I was at YMLP over summer, one of my friends described how asking herself two questions proved useful to deal with anxiety. The questions are:

What are you feeling? 
Why are you feeling it?

When I remembered this,  I said to myself while travelling on the bus, you know what, I’m just going to do this exercise really quickly! Write in the journal on my phone (that I hadn’t used in months!), name what I’m feeling right now and just get to the root of it.  It took me no longer than three minutes, but the result was instantaneous! I went from a state of helplessness and feeling overwhelmed to gaining clarity. Most importantly, it got me back into a space of where I could be focused and intentional with my actions again. This exercise is what I now call, the checking in exercise.

Self-awareness is vital in regards to mental health, and the foundation of the checking in exercise is about honesty in your relationship with yourself. I’ll never forget one of the sisters in the society asking me during those weeks, ‘Do you ever get stressed?’ And I replied with, ‘This is bad, but I’m relatively numb to stress most of the time. My real problem is anxiety.’ And that’s why in the moments when I did feel stressed, it was so important for me to acknowledge it and name it.

Checking in with yourself prevents you from hiding from your feelings which in the long run saves you time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, name it! Whether it’s frustration, anger, powerlessness, whatever it is, just name it! Because once you acknowledge it, it becomes easier to move into the zone of ‘why’. And when you gain clarity on the ‘why’, you recognise what is outside of your control and what is within your control. This is where the power comes from. You become aware of what does not require your energy. Being stressed or anxious over what has occurred in the past and what is outside of your control is wasted energy. Instead, there’s a positivity that ensues when you focus your energy on another set of two questions:

What do I need to learn from this experience or moment?
What can I do now that is within my control and sphere of influence?

Aside from being honest with yourself, it’s important, to be honest with the people around you about how you feel. There will be moments when you will need people or others will need you for help and support. The tweets below from Nafisa_Bakkar (The Founder of Amaliah), articulates well the value in expressing our emotions.

Put out the real you, share your struggles, let it be known you’re not having a good day. Your honesty might just help someone through theirs. I try doing this on my snap chat and it resonates. Every other snap story is food, smiley people and just look how glorious my life is.

“We need to normalise the fact that not everyday is going to be a good day. I wish bloggers and vloggers would open up and show the days and times where they just feel plain crap. Not everyday HIIII GUUUUUUYS 😀 :D.”

This part has probably been the most difficult for me primarily because I’m a super private person, but it has also been a great learning curve and I’ve embraced it a lot more because of how much value I place on honesty within a team. At the basis of it, we are students so there are moments where the experience can be intense or overwhelming hence I consciously strive to create an environment where people can express that. I would prefer for someone to vocalise if they feel overwhelmed or stressed so we can think strategically about minimising it rather than the person burning out from exhaustion.

Lastly, not every day will be great so make time for yourself and your well-being.

Remember to check in!



  1. Great piece! Thanks for sharing this! Everyone is so private and we tend to think that we have to suffer in silence. This then translates into thinking that we cannot even admit to ourselves that we are not feeling up to par. I agree: acknowledging this makes it easier to move into the “why”. Sound advice!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes you stopped me in my tracks , as I got up to ground hog day , my husband snapping at me about our dog , not realising I been in my cell (the bedroom) since 3/4 yesterday after our puppy bite me , his instinct has always it’s your fault , O my I sctaching him as he was wearing a suit after an operation , he was going mad itching , he loved it , then turned nasty and bit so bad into my finger I screamed , I was sent to bed with no tea , ha ha , yep treated always like I don’t belong on this earth , the one I look after well 2 now bite the hand that feeds them in more ways then one .
    And the answer I would give you if we were having a cup of tea together would be helpless , I always sorted out everyone when they need help instead of saying go to a person who specialises in these things , I can’t believe how bad my life really is , and I only share a small part with my I pad , in fact they have got me to the point were I think it’s me , for a long time I’ve asked myself is it him or is it me , is it them or is it me , my 2 friends of over 40 years have seen me grow and I them , they live near London and Cardiff now and have their own businesses , one thing they always said is Sue , your ok upstairs , meaning my mind , people have always been jealous of you, WHY I ask , as the 2 friends don’t know each other One Jo is a brilliant hairdresser who I forced to have her own businesses for year , worked and cut the hair of Vidal Sassoon , but never once made a big deal about it, she was born with scissors in her hand , and Louise a younger friend , who calls me her Shrewsbury mum , I met whilst working for the government , she just be blessed with her cap and gown 🎓 but was born with the theresrus in her hand , or did she write it ? Every laughter at her when she came to our iffy work place , I cried every day going to work, the people , Ooooooo, Lou was like a breath of fresh air , and I knew it , we just got on , Lou was n3ver street wise , but my God she was clever , and it didn’t take long for the lazy senior officer to realise after I stupidly said have you seen her letter writing , she ceased her to catch up on all her paper work that’s was falling into 25 in trays , as she chatted up the boss , O sorry gone of the subject .
    Lou is now a professor of politics how to start your life thingmejig person at Bridgend College .
    Both have seen me as a good person the rest I left behind as when you walked away from giving them your quality time help and how to sort a problem , you could feel knives in your back .
    I’ve wasted my life in a way , as I become so attached and even knowing they disliked me , I would still help .
    Well that’s a big answer from 4 little words , as I remember how my journey started , how clever of you , I’m off to the doctors this morning and you’ve made it a pleasure not a punishment , I’m really going to say how I feel , pretty crap , ha well not those words but I won’t say sorry for being there I usually DO!MUCH MUCH LOVE SUEX

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really needed to read this! I have been doing the “check-in exercise” since you told me about it but I find that when mother nature visits, I tend to be a lot more anxious than usual. Today I was able to address it. I was anxious and overwhelmed about the amount of work I had to do but I knew I couldn’t move on with anything else if I didn’t address it so I told and asked myself why I was feeling that way – because I have too much. I took a walk for a few minutes and during this time, I reassured myself that there was nothing I could do at this point in time that I wasn’t doing and everything else has its due time. I felt a lot better!

    Thank you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this so much. Exactly what I’ve been thinking during this year. When you’re suffering internally, and everyone seems to be okay, the ability to vocalise your feelings is particularly cumbersome. Thank you Muslimgirljournal for amplifying the importance of mental wellbeing!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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