We all know life can get busy at times. All of us lead different lives consisting of a variety of stressors. As a result, one person’s busyness is not always the same as someone else’s, and being busy can be both positive and negative. It could look like getting a promotion at work, a hectic time socially, a lot going on in your head, family or work drama, etc. It’s common to hear yourself saying phrases like “I don’t have enough time,” “I can’t, my schedule’s packed,” “I don’t have the capacity right now,” or “I need more hours in a day.” When life feels restless, sometimes we can forget about ourselves in the process. We may find that we’re checking in on the ones around us but often neglecting how we feel. How are you? How’s your day going? How are you feeling? Such simple questions, but our own needs can easily slip through the cracks.
So let’s try slowing down for a moment. Unclench your jaw, soften your forehead, relax your shoulders, take a big inhale and exhale. Nice work.
Checking in with yourself is a healthy emotional act that can improve your mood and strengthen your relationship with yourself and the people around you. It is important to remember that checking in on yourself will allow you to be the support you want to be for others.
Here are five exercises you can try to slow down and touch base with yourself.
Exercise 1: Simple, honest check-in
How are you doing? What’s good right now? What’s unsettling or uncomfortable? Ask and answer yourself, whether you do it out loud, in your head, or write it down. This can be as short or as long as you’d like. This may help answer some questions about varying moods or feelings and can potentially push you to take action steps or ask for support in certain areas of your life where it’s needed.
Exercise 2: Tuning in with your breath
Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. This exercise works best while you’re sitting, lying down, or standing while leaning against something. With your eyes closed or focused on an object, take a minimum of 10 long inhales and exhales.
Exercise 3: Reflection
Try playing ‘Peak, Valley, Future’ with yourself or out loud with someone else. This can be a reflection of one day or an entire week, whatever feels right for you.
- Peak = What’s something positive that has happened or has brought you joy?
- Valley = What’s something that has brought you down or bummed you out?
- Future = What are you looking forward to or hoping for (i.e. for the following day or week)?
Exercise 4: Movement for the body and mind
You’ve checked in emotionally, but how is your body feeling physically? Are you tense and sore or loose and limber? What is your body craving right now? Try doing 5 minutes of yoga, going for a stroll down the street, or dance to your favourite song. Notice how your body feels. Endorphins are released in response to movement, which helps calm our body and mind, increases energy, and reduces stress.
Exercise 5: Creating a ‘Feel Good’ List
Checking in doesn’t solely include asking yourself how you are but also making time for yourself. Write down a list of at least five things you enjoy or make you feel good that you can refer to later for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, need a break, are bored, or need some quality solo time (i.e., cook your favourite meal, take yourself on a date, explore a new neighbourhood, read that book you never started, or whatever may tickle your fancy). Heck, do one of these activities now if it’s been a while!
If you would prefer an application to help you slow down and check in on a more regular basis you can try these options:
- Aloe Bud is an app that acts as a “self-care pocket companion” that sends you gentle reminders for self-check-ins and reflections throughout your day.
- Aura is an app that includes guided meditation, cognitive behavioural therapy exercises, and mood and sleep tracking.
It’s so important for your well-being to slow down, check-in and make time for yourself. Try and make a habit of it whether you start with once a day or once a week; the more you do it, the easier it will be and the more natural it will feel. Remember, there’s only one of you. You matter, and you deserve to be loved and cared for, especially by yourself. And by taking time for you, it’s not only benefiting yourself but the people you want to be there for as well.
Written by: Jaime