How to Check In With Yourself (25 Effective Ways + Expert Insights)

Life gets hectic, doesn’t it? In the rush of meetings, meals, and must-dos, it’s easy to lose track of how we’re actually feeling—both inside and out. That’s why checking in with yourself is important.

It’s about taking a moment to pause and really listen to your body, your emotions, and your thoughts. This simple act can help maintain your mental wellness, boost your mood, and even improve your relationships.

So, how exactly do we check in with ourselves? Well, there are actually tons of simple and effective ways to do it. Ready to discover how to tune into your inner world and boost your well-being? Let’s get started!

Be Honest with Your Feelings

Starting off on the right foot with checking in on yourself means getting real about how you feel. Sometimes, we get so uncomfortable that we try to push those ‘ugly’ feelings away. Pretend they’re not there or tell ourselves we “shouldn’t” feel a certain way.

But ignoring your feelings doesn’t make them disappear. In fact, it can often make them stronger.

There are no ‘bad’ emotions—happy, sad, frustrated, excited, the whole spectrum. These feelings don’t make you a mess but rather make you human. Your feelings are like messengers—they’re trying to tell you something. So listen to them, be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to feel whatever comes up.

Asking Yourself What You Need

We often go through life on autopilot, meeting the needs of others and checking things off our to-do lists. But when was the last time you stopped and asked yourself: “What do I really need right now?”

This self-query is like having a quiet conversation with your inner self – no judgments, just openness. It might help to think of it in three parts:

  • Physical needs: Am I hungry, tired, or uncomfortable?
  • Emotional needs: What’s my emotional state? Do I need comfort, reassurance, or perhaps a bit of fun?
  • Mental needs: Am I feeling overwhelmed or bored? Do I need stimulation or some time to unwind?

Whatever it is, give yourself permission to acknowledge your needs and take steps to fulfill them. Remember, your needs are important, and taking care of them is not a luxury—it’s a necessity.

Schedule Regular Self-Reflection

Life can get really busy—between work, family, errands, and trying to squeeze in some fun, it’s easy to put ourselves on the back burner.

Now, setting aside time for self-reflection is like putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your busy life. Think of it as a little rendezvous with yourself, just to check in and see how you’re holding up.

So, how do we do this? 

  • Squeeze in some “me-time” in your calendar. It doesn’t have to be a huge chunk of time—even 15-20 minutes each day can make a difference.
  • Find a comfy spot where you won’t be interrupted. It could be early morning when everyone else is snoozing or at night when the world has calmed down a bit.
  • Use this time to mull over your day—what felt good, what didn’t, and how your emotions were riding the waves.

This little habit can help you understand yourself better over time.

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is about bringing your full attention to whatever you’re doing, right here, right now—without judgment. It can be super helpful, especially if your mind loves wandering into ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’.

Start simple. Try focusing on your breath for a few minutes. Feel it going in and out, imagine it’s like the ocean waves—easy, natural, and soothing. Or, next time you eat, try savoring each bite. Notice the textures, the flavors, and the smells.

It’s kind of fun to actually experience the small things we often take for granted.

Keep a Journal

Okay, so you might not feel like the next Hemingway or Shakespeare, and that’s totally fine. Keeping a journal is more about dumping your worries, fears, dreams, and everything in between onto paper.

Start with a simple notebook—nothing fancy is needed (but sure, if you want to!). And write whatever comes to mind. It could be a crazy dream you had, what you’re grateful for, or maybe you’re just annoyed at your noisy neighbor.

It’s all fair game. Just jot them down.

Sometimes, putting it down on paper makes everything feel a bit more manageable. You might even look back a week later and find some insights about yourself. Like, “Hmm, I always get cranky on Wednesdays,” or “I’m really proud when I finish my workouts.”

It’s these little nuggets of self-awareness that can eventually lead to big revelations. So, keep scribbling! Plus, it’s kind of therapeutic—not to mention, it’s cheaper than therapy!

Tune Into Your Body

You’ve heard that saying, right? “Listen to your body when it whispers, so you don’t have to hear it scream.” Well, tuning into your body is kind of like that. It’s about noticing the little signals before they become big alarms.

The first thing you might want to do is find a quiet spot. Sit down or lie back, and close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath, and begin at the top of your head and work your way down.

  1. Do you feel any tension in your forehead, jaw, or shoulders? Often, we clench these parts without even realizing when we’re stressed or focused. Unclench that jaw, relax those shoulders.
  2. As you move down, pay attention to your arms. Are they tight, relaxed, or tingling? No rush here. Let your awareness glide slowly all the way to your fingertips.
  3. Now, take stock of your chest and stomach. Sometimes, emotions hang out here, like a tightness in the chest or a knot in the stomach.
  4. What’s your breathing like? Shallow or deep? Your body communicates through these signals, and each one tells a story about how you’re really feeling.
  5. Wrap up by focusing on your legs and feet. Feel grounded, light, or maybe even a bit restless? Acknowledging these sensations can really open up a dialogue between you and your body.

Our bodies are pretty smart—they often know what we need before we do. So take a moment, maybe right after your morning coffee or before bed, and just scan from head to toe. A little mindfulness here goes a long way!

Ask Yourself Introspective Questions

Got a minute? Great, because a little bit of self-questioning can go a long way in checking in with yourself. Asking introspective questions is all about digging deeper into your own psyche.

Here’s a little list to get you started:

  • What made me smile today, and why?
  • What’s draining my energy lately?
  • If I could change one thing about today, what would it be?
  • What am I proud of myself for today?

Related: 180 Questions to Ask About Mental Health

There are no right or wrong answers here—it’s all about getting to know yourself better. You might even discover things you didn’t realize about yourself. And as you learn more about who you are and what you want, you can start making choices that align with your authentic self.

Review Your Day

Think of it as a casual catch-up session. How’d the day go? What worked out well and what was a miss? It’s about noting the highs and the not-so-highs, too. This can help you spot patterns or triggers in your daily life.

During your review, highlight a few things:

  • One thing you’re grateful for today—could be as simple as that tasty sandwich you had for lunch.
  • One thing you handled like a boss—go on, give yourself some credit!
  • Something you’d like to improve or handle differently next time.

Wrapping up your day like this can set a calming tone for the evening. It’s also a smart way to plan for a smoother tomorrow without late-night worries keeping you up. Think of it as clearing your mental desk before you clock out.

Set Intentions for the Day

Ask yourself: “What vibe do I want to set today?”

Maybe your intention is to be more productive at work, or perhaps it’s to be more patient with your kids. It could even be as simple as wanting to feel calm and centered throughout the day. 

While you’re sipping your morning coffee or even showering, just think about one or two qualities you want to embrace throughout your day. It frames your mind to look for opportunities to bring these into play, almost like setting up a fun challenge for yourself!

But it’s okay if things don’t go exactly as planned—they seldom do, right? The point is to have a guiding light, which helps you stay more aligned and focused on what truly matters as your day unfolds.

Track Your Mood Daily

Tracking your mood daily can clue you in on a lot more than just whether you’re feeling up or down. It’s like keeping a weather report on your emotional climate, which can be super insightful.

You can keep it super simple: you can use a mood tracker app, a simple journal, or even a bullet journal with creative mood trackers. Just choose a method that works for you and be consistent with it.

Over time, you’ll start to see patterns. Maybe you’re always a bit blue on Monday mornings (who isn’t, right?), or super pumped on Friday evenings. Understanding these trends can help you manage your emotions better, like planning something fun when you know you’re usually down.

Use Breathing Techniques

When things start to spin out of control or you feel tension creeping up, breathing techniques can be like your personal emergency brake. They’re simple, sure, but oh-so-powerful in hitting the pause button on stress. 

And the beauty of breathing exercises? You can do them anywhere—stuck in traffic, at your desk, or while cooking dinner. They help bring you back to the present moment, clearing the mental clutter and reducing stress.

Belly Breathing

Belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, reduces stress effectively. Focusing on deep, full breaths into your belly promotes better oxygen exchange, calming your nervous system, decreasing your heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.

  1. Lie down on your back on a flat surface or bed. Bend your knees, and if it makes you more comfortable, place a pillow under your head and knees.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach, right below your rib cage.
  3. Slowly breathe in through your nose, directing the air deep towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should stay still, while the hand on your belly should rise.
  4. Tighten your stomach muscles, pulling them in as you exhale through pursed lips (like you’re whistling). The hand on your stomach should move back down to its starting position.
  5. Repeat this for 5-10 minutes, several times a day if possible.

4-7-8 Breathing

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, is often considered a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” This method, which draws from the principles of pranayama in yoga, primarily aims to reduce anxiety and facilitate easier entry into sleep. While scientific studies are limited, its calming effects make it a popular choice for those seeking a natural way to ease into sleep and manage stress.

  1. Exhale completely with a whooshing sound through your mouth, letting your lungs empty fully.
  2. Close your lips and silently inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  4. Exhale forcefully through pursed lips, making a whooshing sound for 8 seconds.
  5. Repeat this breathing cycle up to 4 times. (But you can go for another cycle once you get used to it).

Reminder: It’s advisable to practice this technique while sitting or lying down, especially at first, as it can cause lightheadedness in some individuals.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing notably helps relax your body and mind, reduces anxiety, and promotes overall well-being. These benefits contribute to improved focus and awareness, making it easier to manage daily stressors.

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine, relaxed shoulders, and legs crossed.
  2. Rest your left hand on your left knee.
  3. Fold the index and middle fingers, and bring your right hand up to your nose.
  4. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and exhale completely through your left nostril.
  5. Close your left nostril with your ring finger.
  6. Open your right nostril and inhale slowly and completely through it.
  7. Close the right nostril with your thumb.
  8. Open the left nostril and exhale completely through it.
  9. Continue this pattern for up to 5 minutes. Finish the practice by ensuring your final breath exhales through the left nostril.
Safety Reminder: While breathing techniques like alternate nostril breathing are generally safe and beneficial—especially in checking in with yourself, it's important to practice them correctly and be aware of your body's responses. 

If you have any respiratory conditions, such as asthma or COPD, consult with a healthcare provider before starting. Additionally, if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or experience any discomfort while practicing these techniques, you should stop immediately and return to normal breathing.

Reassess Your Habits

We all have our routines and habits we do, almost without thinking. Some are good, some are not so good. So, it’s good practice to step back every now and then to ask, “Is this still working for me?”

Take a quick inventory of your daily routines—maybe list them down:

  • Morning rituals
  • Work or study patterns
  • Evening wind-down activities

Which of these add to your day, and which ones might be subtracting from it?

Maybe scrolling through social media first thing in the morning leaves you feeling more drained than energized, or perhaps that late-night TV bingeing is messing with your sleep. Don’t be afraid to tweak or even toss habits that no longer serve your best interests.

Seek Feedback from Trusted People

Sometimes, we’re just too close to our own patterns to see them clearly. This is where trusted friends, family members, or maybe a coach can come in handy. These are the people who know you well, care about you, and can offer honest and constructive feedback.

Reach out to a couple of people whose opinions you value and trust. Let them know you’re working on better checking in with yourself and ask if they’ve noticed any habits or moods you might not be fully aware of.

Here’s the key: Be open to hearing what they say without feeling like you need to defend or explain.

This feedback can be incredibly valuable. It’s not always easy to hear, sure, but it can spotlight blind spots and confirm suspicions you might have about what’s working or not in your life.

Challenge Your Thoughts

Oftentimes, our thoughts can be tougher on us than any tough coach ever would be. They whisper things like, “You can’t do this,” or “You always mess up.” Sound familiar? Right.

When a negative thought pops up, pause and consider the evidence. If your thought is, “I never do anything right,” think about times you have succeeded. This approach doesn’t mean you’re dismissing your feelings but rather looking at them in a more balanced light.

And you know what? Sometimes, you might find a bit of truth in those thoughts. That’s okay too! Use it as a growth opportunity. What can you learn from it? Keep it constructive, not critical.

Take a Social Media Detox

Scroll, like, comment, repeat. We’ve all been there.

While social media can be a great way to connect with others, it can also be a major source of comparison, negativity, and FOMO (fear of missing out). So, what about a little social media detox?

  • Start small. Maybe designate a couple of hours each day when you’re just offline. Use that time to do something you enjoy—read, take a walk, cook something new, or just sit with your thoughts.
  • Notice how you feel during these times. Lighter? Less rushed? It’s interesting to see how our moods and day-to-day can warp without those constant digital pings.
  • If you find yourself feeling better, stretch it out a bit longer. A weekend without social media, perhaps? This isn’t about quitting altogether but about finding a healthy balance.

Life’s too short to spend it all staring at screens. So, give your eyes (and mind) some well-earned rest.

Explore Your Spirituality

Now, exploring your spirituality doesn’t necessarily mean religion, though it can if that’s your thing. It’s really about connecting to something bigger than yourself, whatever that may be. It can be about seeking meaning, understanding, and connection through practices, thoughts, or feelings that transcend your everyday life.

There are many ways to explore your spirituality—you might try meditation, prayer, spending time in nature, or reading inspiring texts. You could also explore different spiritual traditions or join a spiritual community.

The beautiful part about exploring your spirituality is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s very personal. It’s about finding what feeds your soul. Permit yourself to explore this quietly and deeply.

Identify Energy Drainers and Boosters

Ever feel like some activities—or even people—leave you energized while others just suck the life right out of you? Knowing what lifts you up and what pulls you down can help you manage your energy much more effectively.

Here’s a simple way to start:

  • Energy Boosters: What pumps you up and brings you joy? It might be things like a quick walk, a chat with a friend, playing music, or working on a hobby.
  • Energy Drainers: What leaves you feeling depleted? It could be overchecking emails, unnecessary meetings, a cluttered workspace, or perhaps interactions with a negative coworker.

Note down how different activities or interactions make you feel. Then, try to adjust your day or week to include more of those boosters and limit the drainers.

Reflect on Your Fears and Hopes

We all have fears—fears of failure, rejection, the unknown. And we all have hopes—hopes for the future, for ourselves, for the world. But how often do we really take the time to reflect on these fears and hopes?

Acknowledging your fears isn’t about giving them free rein over your life but understanding where they come from and how they affect you. This can be the first step in managing them effectively.

Related: Top 26 Fears That Hold People Back in Life (And What to Do About It)

On the flip side, think about your hopes and dreams. What are you looking forward to? What excites you about the future? Aligning your actions with your hopes can propel you forward, turning ‘someday’ into actionable plans.

Jotting these fears and hopes down can help you see a clearer picture. Acknowledging them as part of your complete self. This balance can motivate you to take steps that respect both your vulnerabilities and strengths.

Listen to Your Intuition

You know that gut reaction you get sometimes? Maybe when you meet someone new, or when you have to make a decision about a job or a move? That’s your intuition talking, and it’s worth listening to.

Try tuning in to these gut reactions more consciously. When faced with a choice, pause and see how each option makes you feel. Does one choice clearly feel better, even if it’s the scarier one? Trusting your gut can sometimes lead to the most authentic paths, the ones you’re meant to walk.

54321 Grounding

The 54321 Grounding technique is a fantastic tool to bring you back to the here and now. This method is straightforward and incredibly effective, especially when things feel like they’re spiraling a bit.

Here’s how it works:

  • 5 things you can see: Look around and notice five things you see in your immediate environment. Maybe a picture on the wall or the side lamp.
  • 4 things you can touch: Feel four things within your reach. Notice the feeling of your clothes on your skin, the ground beneath your feet, or the texture of a nearby object.
  • 3 things you can hear: Close your eyes and tune in to three sounds. Listen to the sounds around you, such as birds chirping, cars passing by, or the hum of the refrigerator.
  • 2 things you can smell: Take a few deep breaths and notice any scents in the air, like fresh air, coffee brewing, or your own perfume.
  • 1 thing you can taste: Focus on your sense of taste. Maybe you can still taste the last thing you ate or drank, or perhaps you notice the taste of your own saliva.

This technique is helpful because it uses all your senses to center your thoughts, reducing stress and anxiety. It’s a handy trick to pull out of your bag whenever you need to anchor yourself quickly.

Use the “Wise Mind” Concept

It’s a brilliant way of balancing the rational mind (that loves facts and logic) and the emotional mind (that’s all about feelings). When these two collaborate rather than clash, you find your “wise mind”—the sweet spot in the middle, where you can access both your emotions and your logic to make balanced and thoughtful decisions.

  1. Start by acknowledging a situation where you need to make a decision.
  2. Reflect on what your logical thinking brings up—maybe the pros and cons.
  3. Then, tune into your emotions—how does each option make you feel?
  4. Neither side should bully the other; it’s about letting both voices have their say.

Practicing this method can help you reach thoughtful yet empathetic decisions—balanced in a true sense. It can be a bit of a juggling act at first, but the more you practice, the more natural it becomes.

Try the Gibbs Reflective Cycle

The Gibbs Reflective Cycle is a reflective framework that encourages a detailed exploration of experiences. So, if you hope to gain deeper insights into your decisions and actions, this method is like a roadmap to better understanding.

Start by recounting the event:

  1. Description: Simply note what happened. Keep this part factual and straightforward, like you’re reporting the news.
  2. Feelings: This is where you tune into what you were thinking and feeling at the time. It can be eye-opening to acknowledge these emotions openly.
  3. Evaluation: Here, you get to weigh in on what parts of the experience were positive and negative. Think about what contributed to both.

Then, dig a bit deeper:

  1. Analysis: Try to determine why things went the way they did. This can involve looking at the broader context or considering other players’ roles and reactions.
  2. Conclusion: This is where you sum up what you’ve learned. It might be recognizing strengths you didn’t know you had or pinpointing areas where you could improve.
  3. Action Plan: Now, think forward. If a similar situation arises, what would you do the same or differently? This is your chance to strategize for the future.

Go step-by-step through a recent event that left an impression on you—perhaps a disagreement at work or a personal achievement. This method isn’t just about understanding better what happened but also preparing you better for future similar situations.

Label Your Emotions

It might sound simple, but labeling your emotions can be a powerful way to understand and manage them. Instead of saying, “I feel bad,” try to be more specific.

  • Joy: Feeling happy, cheerful, exhilarated. This emotion can energize you and increase your engagement with activities and others.
  • Sadness: Often experienced as feeling down, melancholy, or disappointed. While uncomfortable, acknowledging sadness can pave the way for healing and recovery.
  • Fear: Includes feelings of being scared, anxious, or apprehensive. Identifying fear is crucial as it prepares you for action—essentially, fight-or-flight.
  • Anger: This can manifest as irritation, frustration, or rage. Understanding anger helps prevent it from escalating and enables constructive handling of conflicts.
  • Surprise: This could be shock, wonder, or disbelief. It’s short-lived and can pivot you toward new insights.
  • Disgust: Feelings of aversion or strong disapproval towards something. Recognizing disgust can guide you away from harmful environments or behaviors.

Here’s how to apply this in daily life:

  • Pause: When a strong emotion hits, take a moment to stop and breathe.
  • Identify: Ask yourself, “What exactly am I feeling?” Try to pin it down as precisely as you can.
  • Acknowledge: Accept this emotion without judgment. Remember, every emotion is information.

Labeling acts like sorting out a box of mixed-up cords. Once everything is untangled and placed correctly, you can clearly see what you have. It helps you react appropriately rather than just reacting on impulse.

Use the Feelings Wheel

Sometimes, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what we’re feeling. That’s where the Feelings Wheel comes in handy. This tool is a visual aid that helps you identify and articulate your emotions more accurately.

Think of it as a color palette for your emotions. It starts with basic emotions like happy, sad, angry, and scared, and then branches out into more nuanced shades of those emotions.

For example, under “happy,” you might find joy, content, optimistic, or proud. Under “sad,” you might find lonely, disappointed, hurt, or vulnerable.

Using the feelings wheel is super easy. Just start at the center and work your way outward, identifying the emotions that resonate with you the most. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of your emotional experience and communicate your feelings more

"You can print that out or take a screenshot and use that image to check in with yourself and identify what you're feeling at various times. The more you practice identifying your emotions, the easier it will be for you to recognize them and utilize the information they provide.  effectively to others."

Michelle F. Moseley, MS, LCMHC, NCC | Outpatient Therapist

Use the ‘Feel Your Feet’ Method

This one’s pretty straightforward and discreet, letting you use it anywhere—whether you’re in a stressful meeting or crowded public transport.

All you have to do is literally feel your soles against the ground or your shoes. Notice the pressure, the texture, and maybe even the temperature. Wiggle your toes a bit; feel them inside your socks or shoes.

This simple act of redirecting your focus to a physical sensation can act as a circuit breaker for anxiety, breaking the chain of stressful thoughts. Try making this a habit whenever you find your stress levels climbing. It’s a practical technique to center yourself quickly, making it easier to handle whatever comes your way.

When to Seek Professional Help?

Checking in with yourself is a great first step to maintaining your mental and emotional health, but sometimes, you might find the challenges you’re facing are a bit too heavy to handle alone.

Let’s discuss some signs that it might be time to reach out for extra support.

  • Persistent overwhelming emotions: If you frequently feel overwhelmed by emotions such as sadness, anxiety, or anger, and these feelings persist over time, disrupting your daily activities and relationships, it might be time to consult a professional.
  • Impact on daily functioning: When your emotional state starts affecting your ability to work, maintain social relationships, or take care of yourself and your responsibilities, professional guidance can be invaluable.
  • Unhelpful coping mechanisms: Turning to unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking, substance abuse, or withdrawing from social interactions can be indicative of deeper issues that might benefit from professional attention.

Seeking help from a counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist is a proactive step toward better mental health. Remember, it’s a sign of strength and commitment to your well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make self-reflection a habit?

Consistency is key—try scheduling time for self-reflection in your calendar or setting reminders on your phone. You can also pair self-reflection with an existing habit, such as having your morning coffee or taking a walk after dinner. The more you practice self-reflection, the more natural it will become.

How often should I check in with myself?

Ideally, you should check in with yourself regularly—daily if possible. It can be first thing in the morning, during lunch breaks, or before bed. Consistency is key for making it a habit and for it to be most effective.

What if I don’t have time for self-reflection?

We all lead busy lives, but even small acts of self-care can make a big difference. Try to find little ways to nurture yourself throughout the day, such as taking a few deep breaths, listening to your favorite song, or spending a few minutes in nature.

What if checking in with myself brings up painful emotions?

It’s natural to feel uncomfortable when facing difficult emotions. If checking in with yourself brings up painful feelings, be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to feel whatever comes up. If you’re struggling to cope, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it—a whole bunch of ways to check in with yourself and feel your best! It’s not about making big, complicated changes but rather small moments of mindfulness that add up over time.

Start with just one of the methods we’ve talked about today. Maybe it’s asking yourself how you feel today or taking a deep breath before you start your morning. You might be surprised by how this small addition to your day can make you feel more in control and peaceful.

And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re struggling, reach out to a friend, family member, or mental health professional for support. We all need a little help sometimes, and that’s okay.

You got this!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Share it on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Clariza is a passionate writer and editor who firmly believes that words have great power. She has a degree in BS Psychology, which gives her an in-depth understanding of the complexities of human behavior. As a woman of science and art, she fused her love for both fields in crafting insightful articles on lifestyle, mental health, and social justice to inspire others and advocate for change.

In her leisure time, you can find her sitting in the corner of her favorite coffee shop downtown, deeply immersed in her bubble of thoughts. Being an art enthusiast that she is, she finds bliss in exploring the rich world of fiction writing and diverse art forms.