The Problem With the Question “How Are You Feeling?”

asking how are you feeling

When you have been facing mental health challenges or going through addiction treatment and most days find yourself feeling good, bad, and all things in between, one of the worst questions you repeatedly hear yourself getting asked is, “How are you feeling?” There’s something that feels overwhelming being asked this question since you don’t exactly know how you feel, especially when how you feel mentally or physically seems like it changes quickly from one second to the next. Loved ones ask this question with love and good intentions, and not wanting to answer it can make you feel guilty and upset.

Thanks but No, Thanks

Showing loved ones that you appreciate their concern for your mental or physical well-being is an important acknowledgment to make to show that you are grateful for their care, but there’s no obligation to answer any questions that make you uncomfortable. Instead of getting angry or perturbed the next time you get asked the question “How are you feeling?” try explaining how difficult it is for you to answer that question at that moment and pose some of the ideas below for questions to ask instead.

  1. Ask a specific question like “Has there been anything on your mind recently?” or “How has your day been?”
  1. They can explain how they are feeling first, which takes the attention off of you and makes the space feel safe for you to open up if you choose to.
  1. Ask supportive questions like “How can I support you right now?” or “Is there anything that you need that I can help with?” These questions don’t burden you to explain yourself while still helping you get the help you may secretly be looking for.
  1. Be proactive and suggest an activity to do together. If they are concerned about you being lonely or depressed, this is an excellent opportunity for the both of you to spend quality time together and for you to take your mind off of things.
  1. Ask, “Is there anything enjoyable you have been doing lately?” This question helps to look at what positive activities you have been enjoying and can help you focus on what’s going right instead of what’s going wrong. This is a question that opens up the potential for light conversations surrounding hobbies or recreational activities that allow for pleasant conversation.

Family or friends are well-intentioned when they come to you asking, “How are you feeling?” but they may not understand that this question can make you feel uncomfortable when you are experiencing a range of confusing emotions. Learning to ask the right questions that make a person feel safe and comfortable will help as they navigate recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health challenges or staying sober, call Avalon Malibu. Avalon Malibu is a California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse treatment center that can help you in your addiction recovery and mental health struggles. At Avalon, we create a safe, healing environment for our clients to find peace and success in their recovery. For more information about the services we offer, call (844) 857-5992.

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