By: Gabby Beckford
As the days get colder and the leaves disappear, we inch closer and closer to midterms. Juggling assignments, a job, chores. Your mental health can often leave you with lingering negative emotions and stress, even if you can’t recognize them at the moment. That’s why it’s important to turn inward, and reflect. My favourite way to do this is with RAIN.
RAIN is a four step reflection method designed to get at the root of unknown, unsolved emotions. The four steps are broken down like this:
The first step in RAIN is to actually notice that you’re feeling off! In theory it sounds easy, but in practice you may need a little extra push. That push can be doing an activity that puts your brain on autopilot, such as getting some fresh air, laying down and listening to music, watching a nostalgic movie and so on. Just remember to choose an activity that doesn’t require you to think too hard — that simply piles on more stress.
Now that you’re becoming aware of how you feel, take as long as you need to physically pause and try your best not to jump to conclusions. Taking a mental step back can be accomplished through observing bodily sensations, and a great way to do so is focusing on parts of your body from top to bottom. Describe how it feels physically, then try to loosen and relax that area. Instead of saying “I’m exhausted”, look for parts of your body that could be hurting, such as your head or back.
While associating an uncomfortable physical sensation with stress can help it feel less permanent, there’s still some deeper digging to do. Now it’s time to gently get to the root of the feeling. Ask yourself: “What wants my attention right now?” and/or “What negative beliefs do I have about myself right now?” These questions are a primer for the final step, and will help you discover what you need.
Non-Identify or Nurture
Non-Identifying or Nurturing is honestly the hardest part. Originally this was just Non-Identify, but I decided to include Nurture because not everyone comforts themselves the same way. The difference between these two options is that one requires you to distance yourself from the situation, and can be used in situations where emotional recovery is more urgent, while the other can be used when you have more time to reflect.
Non Identification is the act of separating your lingering emotions from the current situation. Now that you’re more relaxed, attempt to visualize the “size” of your stress compared to other things that are equally or even more important and valuable. Remind yourself that how you react and feel about things is completely in your control, even though some stressors around you aren’t. Remember that you are a whole person, and this is a small disturbance in your well being. The goal here is to let the feeling(s) pass.
If you need more reassurance than simply letting go of your thoughts, try showing yourself kindness. I know that it can be difficult to let yourself off the hook every once in a while. Remind yourself of a recent challenge you overcame, or even the fact that you chose this reflection method to process your emotions! The goal here is to highlight one or more things you did well in a stressful situation (for example: it’s normal to experience writers’ block. Even though I had to prioritize other subjects over writing this article more times than I’d like this week, I’m happy that I was still able to finish).
RAIN is one of those skills that requires purposeful practice. I know that it’s easier said than done, but after time it becomes a little more automatic. Believe me — it’s a skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life.