Check in with yourself: A simple mindfulness technique

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Any discussions about mindfulness or present-focus or self-care often mention that you should check in with yourself. But what if you don’t really know what that means? Read on to find out how to check in with yourself, so you can use this simple mindfulness technique to improve your mental health and wellbeing.

It’s an ancient idea

The whole idea of checking in with yourself isn’t exactly new, it’s been around as part of Eastern philosophy for about 2500 years. It’s part of the concept of mindfulness, which is all about focusing your awareness, or attention, on the present moment. It sounds simple enough. However it can be really difficult to calm your busy mind enough to focus on the here-and-now. But taking a quick break for a feelings check-in is a lot less daunting.

You don’t have to empty your mind

A common misunderstanding about mindfulness is that it requires you to empty your mind. But you just need to notice what’s in your mind. Mindfulness is actually about paying attention to what is happening within yourself and noticing your feelings in a non-judgemental way.

Feelings come and go like the weather

You are human and that means you feel whatever you feel. Your mind is a bit like the sky, and your emotions are like the weather, sometimes they’re sunny, sometimes they’re cloudy or rainy or thunderous. Maybe there’s even snow or hail or a tornado. Sometimes there are multiple kinds of weather on the same day or even at the same time. Feelings come and go over the course of the day.

Avoid getting trapped by your feelings: check in with yourself

You likely attach a negative interpretation to every feeling that floats past. So for example if you feel anxious, you try to interpret the anxiety by looking for a reason for it, and you probably start to blame someone or something. But now on top of feeling anxious you also feel accusatory and maybe angry, frustrated, or annoyed as well. Your interpretation of your anxiety has added a whole other layer of negative feelings to deal with on top of the original feeling.

You feel a lot worse and now it’s more likely for the feelings to ‘stick’ and hang around for longer. In order to stay connected to yourself and avoid getting trapped into a negative interpretation of every feeling that comes past, you need to check in with yourself as often as you can.

Just noticing your feelings is helpful: it creates a mindful space

You don’t need to make a big deal out of the feelings you identify. Don’t judge! Just notice what’s going on inside you. Even better, name whatever feelings are happening for you. This non-judgemental noticing and naming is both calming and grounding. Because the act of mentally stepping back from your feelings enough to be able to notice and name them, puts a space between ‘you’ and ‘your feelings’. That space in itself is a big part of the mindfulness we want to cultivate, that is so helpful to our mental health.

Check in with yourself because practice is key

Just like any other skill we learn in life, practicing it over and over is the key to success. The more often we check in, the easier it becomes to recognise what we really feel. Once we identify and acknowledge our feelings by naming them, we can move on.

Blue-footed booby success formula: How to check in with yourself

  1. Stop whatever you’re doing and take a moment just for you.
  2. Ask yourself: “How are you?” Or “What’s going on for me right now?”
  3. Notice your feelings and name them. For example, “I feel frustrated”. “I feel sad”. Or angry or peeved or delighted or excited or bored or hopeless or annoyed or whatever you’re feeling. (It’s ok if you feel more than one thing at a time)
  4. Continue with your day and whatever you were doing when you paused.
  5. Practice checking in as often as you can.

Give it a try and let us know what you think by leaving a comment or getting in contact with us, we’d love to hear your feedback!

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