Newsletter Tip #14: Systems Check

A few years ago I was interviewed on a TV show about mental health in college students.  The interview progressed the way they often do, when all of the suddenly, something shifted.

The interviewer turned to me and said, “How about you, Dr. Michaelis, how do you deal with your own mental health when you are not in a good headspace?” 

I admit I was sort of stunned because interviewers don’t often break out of the standard questions, so I paused for a moment before saying that I perform a “Systems Check.”

I tend to be a pretty positive person (who always adores alliteration!) but in the moments when I am “On Tilt,” and feeling a bit, how shall we say, less than kind and charitable to my fellow human beings, I know something is off and I perform a systems check.  I ask myself the following questions:

  • Did you sleep well last night?
  • What have you eaten lately?
  • Are you thirsty?
  • Have you exercised lately?
  • Have you consumed anything that could have negatively affected your state of mind?

Most of the time, the answer to one of these is yes, and if I can do something to alter my current state, like eating something healthy, drinking water or going for a run it usually helps.  Even if it doesn’t automatically solve the problem, it helps to know that I can wait it out and that things will be different when the effects subside.

So if you are feeling ‘On Tilt’, try a ‘Systems Check’ first? Let me know how it goes.

With that in mind, I am going for a run right now!

For now, stay off tilt, on point and be well.



Additional Resources:

  • HERE is a useful article from The Atlantic about how to communicate with others regarding COVID-19.
  • For my fellow parents who are trapped at home, here is an article about nurturing your children’s curiosity.