It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind of life and forget to check in with yourself. But taking the time to reconnect with your thoughts, feelings, and goals is essential for a happy, healthy life.
So if you’re looking for guidance on how to do that, don’t worry. There are steps to connect with yourself and improve your well-being.
According to therapists and other mental health experts, here are ways to check in with yourself effectively.
Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII
Executive Clinical Director, Gallus Detox
The world can be a lot, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That’s why checking in with yourself every once in a while is important.
When we tune into our bodies, we can often get a better sense of what is happening inside us emotionally. Below are tips on how to do just that:
Check in with your physical body
How are you feeling physically? Are you tired, stressed, or hungry? Achy? Paying attention to your physical sensations can give clues about how you feel emotionally.
For instance, if you notice that your body feels tense or that your heart is racing, this may be an indication that you’re feeling anxious.
Notice your thoughts and emotions
What thoughts and emotions are you experiencing? Are you feeling happy, sad, angry, or scared? Name the emotions you’re feeling out loud or write them down in a journal. This can help you to acknowledge and validate your feelings.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, it can be helpful to remember that all feelings are temporary and will eventually pass. This will help you bring some perspective to the situation and not get too caught up in the intensity of your emotions.
Check in with your breathing
Does your chest feel expanded? Does your stomach rise and fall? Deep breathing can help relax the body and calm the mind.
If you feel anxious or stressed, try taking some deep breaths and see if it makes a difference. Start by inhaling for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Repeat this for a few minutes and see how you feel.
Breathing exercises will help reduce stress by slowing down your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. These physical changes can bring about a sense of calm and peace.
Connect with your surroundings
Where are you right now? What can you see, smell, and feel? Anchoring yourself in the present moment will help you to focus on what’s happening around you instead of getting caught up in your thoughts. This can be a helpful tool if you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed.
Similarly, I’d like you to check in with your environment.
- Are you in a safe place?
- Do you feel comfortable and relaxed?
- Or do you feel like you’re in a situation that is making you anxious or triggering stress?
If you’re in an environment that isn’t conducive to relaxation, see if there is anything you can do to change that.
For instance, if you’re at work and feeling stressed, maybe you can take a break to go for a walk outside or make a cup of tea. If you’re at home and feeling anxious, perhaps you can play calming music or light a candle.
Just see if there is anything you can do to make your surroundings more supportive of relaxation.
Ask yourself how you can take care of yourself
Once you’ve checked in with your physical, emotional, and mental state, it’s time to ask yourself what you need to feel better. Do you need some rest? A healthy meal? Some time to yourself?
Remember to seek healthy coping mechanisms to deal with your emotions. This could also involve talking to a friend, going for a walk, listening to music, or writing in a journal.
Going the other way by numbing your emotions with drugs or alcohol will not help in the long run and will only make you feel worse. Plus, you’ll put yourself at risk for developing chronic health problems like liver disease, heart disease, and cancer.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Summit Psychotherapy LLC
Practice being mindful by focusing on your internal experience
Mindfulness involves being present in your current experience without worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. It involves being present without judgment.
You can practice being mindful by focusing on your internal experience. You can ask yourself:
- “How am I feeling physically?”
- “How am I feeling emotionally?”
- “what thoughts are coming up for me?”
Check-in with yourself and identify these answers.
You can practice focusing on your breath without pushing how you feel away, but working on accepting it and sitting with it.
Mindfulness is a practice. The more you grow this skill, the easier it will feel to incorporate.
Use the “wise mind” concept
Often it can feel like we respond emotionally or logically. It can feel like we are running on autopilot, and it can be challenging to slow down and identify how we feel.
Checking in to identify how you think and react to things can be helpful. A therapy called DBT helps clients to integrate their emotional and rational mindsets into a concept called “wise mind.”
You can practice identifying your own wise mind by practicing mindfulness and working on accepting your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them but instead allowing those sensations to move on.
Wise mind can help to guide your decision-making and ensure you are responding from a space that is deliberate.
Understand how you think about things and how this affects how you feel
Often the way we think about things impacts our mood. It can be helpful to understand how you tend to think about things and how this affects how you feel.
Whenever you experience a strong negative emotion like sadness, anxiety, or anger, stop to ask yourself, “what is going through my head right now?” Once you identify how you’re thinking, work to identify if this thought is helpful or harmful to you.
If the thought is unhelpful, practice challenging it by thinking about what you would tell a close friend if they came to you with a similar thought.
Cristina Louk, Ph.D., LMHCA, RHT
Clinical Psychotherapist, Peace Humanistic Therapy
Use reflective practice
When I need to check in with myself, I do so using reflective practice. This means that I periodically analyze past situations or behaviors so that I can be in the process of constant learning.
There is an amazing byproduct of reflective practice—increased happiness levels. Studies have shown that more experiences of happiness help us to develop more inner strength and become more resilient.
Reflecting on your past actions has been shown to help decrease the experience of negative emotions while increasing the experience of happiness. This is important.
While negative emotions may be helpful regarding immediate survival (i.e., fear that prompts you to run from the tiger), happiness helps you solve problems related to personal growth and development.
When people are happy, they can lean into their creativity and have a more expansive cognitive space.
Does more happiness sound enticing? Are you interested in learning how to engage in reflective practice?
Try the Gibbs Reflective Cycle
My personal go-to is Gibbs Reflective Cycle. This is a 6-step process that helps me fully analyze the situation or behavior.
The steps are:
- Describe what happened.
- What was I thinking or feeling?
- What was good/bad about the experience?
- What sense can I make of the experience?
- What do I need to approve on?
- How will I improve?
If a structured approach is not for you, no worries! You can also use reflective practice by experimenting with new ideas, being open to gaining feedback from others or keeping a journal on which you can look back.
So the next time you need to check in with yourself, remember that you can also boost your happiness levels by being self-reflective. What a great way to turn your struggles into your strengths.
Be aware of your gut reaction
Our bodies and brains are capable of amazing things. One way to check in with yourself is to notice your “gut reaction”—that first thought that goes through your mind or the initial feeling you have about whether or not a choice is best for you.
You don’t always have to follow this first reaction, but noticing it can give you lots of good information and is one way of checking in with yourself.
Label your emotions
Emotions are an integral part of existing as a human, yet many of us received little, if any, education about recognizing and naming our emotions.
Emotions can give us information about a situation or option we may not consciously recognize. Emotions can also elicit a reaction from both ourselves and others.
One place to start recognizing and labeling emotions is to use the basic four emotions—mad, sad, glad, and scared.
Check in with yourself by asking, “Which of the basic four—mad, sad, glad, or scared – best describes what I’m feeling right now?”
Another way to identify and label emotions is to search online for “emotion wheel,” and you’ll find a literal wheel-shaped image with lots of emotions listed—from basic descriptors on the inner portion to more nuanced descriptors in the outer circle.
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.
Notice physical sensations or reactions
You may have heard someone ask, “Where do you feel that in your body?” This question is common with some types of mental health and body-based therapies.
Science has shown that people hold onto stress and emotions in their physical bodies. Many folks have felt the change in heart rate or body temperature when faced with a high-stress situation.
So, another way to check in with yourself is to take some intentional time to notice any physical sensations or reactions you may be having in your body.
- Are there parts of your body that want to move?
- Are there areas that feel stiff or tight?
- Do you notice a desire to stretch or an achiness when you move a certain way?
Checking in with yourself by noticing physical sensations can give you information about a need to move or stretch or release some emotional or physical energy.
Rachel Davidson, MA, LPC-A
Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, Malaty Therapy
See what types of thoughts you have about yourself and others
Why check-in? Our lives can be so busy that we often go through our days on autopilot, focused on everything we have to get done and all the places we need to be. We tend to lose touch with ourselves, what we need, and whether those needs are being met.
When we find ourselves in situations where we become stressed, unhappy, or overwhelmed with emotion, it can be an indication that we have lost touch and our needs are not being met.
A helpful practice for every individual is to check in with ourselves regularly. When doing this, we prevent extreme mental fatigue and the adverse reactions that come with it.
If we remain aware of how we are doing, we can catch ourselves earlier and do the work we need to get ourselves to a better place.
Look for the warning signs
A big part of checking in with ourselves begins with identifying warning signs. If we look closely at ourselves, we will notice bodily and emotional warning signs indicating that we are becoming dysregulated.
Bodily warning signs could be:
- Clammy palms
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shallow breathing
- Tension in our muscles
It can be helpful to pause when we recognize feeling anxious, angry, or overwhelmed and work backward.
What is our body doing at this moment? Make a note of these bodily sensations and remember to look for them when you check in with yourself. If you notice one or more of these warning signs, it could be a sign that you need to do something calming or self-soothing.
Emotional warning signs are often linked with our thoughts. Noticing these requires us to tune in to thoughts that might be so automatic that they barely register.
Check-in and see what types of thoughts you have about yourself and others. If the overall tone of your thinking is negative, whether that be thoughts that you are not enough, that other people are the worst, or that the world is dangerous, make a mental note.
These types of thoughts are often unhelpful and associated with negative emotions like anger, sadness, and self-doubt.
Change course by challenging the negative thought processes
Now that you have checked in with yourself and identified physical and emotional warning signs, what is the next step? We can change our course by challenging the negative thought processes that may be present and performing some simple exercises to calm the body and mind.
Starting with the body, we can ground ourselves with deep breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation. Taking a few deep breaths is one of the most basic things we can all do to slow down and become present.
For those of us who find tension in our bodies, variations of progressive muscle relaxation can be helpful, in which we tense and relax parts of our bodies to become aware of the difference we feel in our bodies.
To deal with those negative thoughts, first noticing our thoughts and then attempting to challenge them can help us break out of the patterns of thought that might be holding us back.
We can ask ourselves how true these thoughts really are and whether there is an alternative explanation. We often develop these patterns over the course of years without questioning them.
Checking in allows us to notice and alter the things that might not be working well for us so we can live more fulfilling lives.
Beck Institute CBT Certified Clinician
As a therapist, I encourage people to check in with themselves. If this is a new concept to you, though, it can feel abstract and difficult to know where to start.
I’ve put together these three simple steps tailored to starting a practice of checking in with yourself regularly (ideally each day).
Set aside time each day
The first step is finding time in your schedule to check in with yourself. When you’re first starting out, and this process might be a little more challenging, it’s best to plan a time rather than just leave it to chance and risk not getting to it.
For some, it’s easier to set aside time at the beginning or end of the day, but choose a time that’s best for you and when you’ll most likely stick with the plan. Starting with about 10 min should be enough in the beginning.
Remove anything that might prevent you from connecting with yourself
This includes turning off the tv, putting the phone away, and finding a place to sit where no one will interrupt you. This can be very hard if you’re not used to sitting with yourself in silence, but with time remember it will get easier.
Have some tools
So you’ve set aside the time and removed all distractions. Now, how do you actually connect? This is where a few tools can help.
A great way to get started is to have a journal and print out a feelings wheel. A feelings wheel can be easily found on the internet; it’s basically a wheel with the primary feelings in the center and more nuanced feelings as the wheel moves outwards.
You’d be surprised how many people have difficulties identifying their feelings. This wheel helps because almost every feeling can be found on it, and identifying how you’re feeling is a great way to start connecting and checking in with yourself.
After you’ve got the feeling or feelings you’re experiencing, journal on it for about 5 minutes. There are no rules; you can:
- Write paragraphs
- Free associate
- Draw a picture of how you’re feeling
- Create a word cloud
- Or anything that comes to mind
This process not only serves as a way to check in with ourselves but also is a short way to process how we’re feeling and hopefully prepares us to feel more grounded and connected to ourselves for the rest of the day.
So the next time you’d like to try checking in with yourself, try this simple yet rewarding process. A daily check-in helps support our overall mental health as well.
Lindsey Konchar, MSW
Licensed Graduate Social Worker and Owner, Coping with Lindsey | Author, “I Got 99 Coping Skills and Being a B*tch Ain’t One“
Use body scanning or the “Benson” method
Body scanning, also known as the Benson method, is quite literally a check-in with yourself. It’s a mindfulness technique that focuses on interoception, meaning body scanning uses our brains to check in with our internal body sensations.
How to body scan
Sit or lie comfortably and bring awareness to each region of the body. Starting at your feet, simply notice the sensations in your feet. Is there tension in your arch?
Make a mental note of whatever you discover, but just acknowledge it. Move up through your legs, abdomen, arms, shoulder, neck, and all the way to your head.
If your focus shifts, recognize it and come back to the body scan.
After doing a check-in with your body, you decide how to proceed. Does your jaw feel tight? Consider letting your tongue fall to the floor of your mouth and give your jaw and cheeks a little massage.
If your low back carries tension, stretch it with soft yoga poses. Whatever your body is telling you it needs, do that.
A study conducted in 2019 focused on using body scanning as a form of treatment for anxiety in the emergency room. Patients who tried body scanning showed improved anxiety scores compared to those who did not.
Disclaimer: If a person is experiencing anxiety symptoms as a result of or related to a traumatic event, specifically physical or sexual abuse, and are easily prone to flashbacks or other trauma-related stimuli, body scanning may best be avoided until distress tolerance skills and emotion regulation is appropriately developed.
Do grounding techniques
Grounding techniques are simple, quick, and effective ways to help you get out of your head and feel more connected to the world around you.
The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method
My favorite grounding technique is called the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method. Take a deep breath and have a simple check-in with your five senses.
- Notice five things you see.
- Four things you physically feel.
- Three things you hear.
- Two things you smell.
- One thing you taste (or one thing that brings you joy if you don’t taste that minty toothpaste any longer).
Feel your feet
Another grounding technique I like is called “Feel Your Feet.” This grounding activity is done while walking.
If you’re barefoot, feel how the cold, hard tile presses against the ball of your foot.
Walking in socks? How does the cotton fabric feel? Can you notice how the seam feels running across the top of your toes?
If you’re wearing shoes, there are many different supports and pressure points. Notice how the back of your heel rubs the back of the sneaker or the pressure encasing your foot. Again, just simply notice how your foot is interacting with the ground.
Jocelyn Hamsher LPC, CST
Professor and Course Creator | Licensed Professional Counselor, Courageous Living AZ
Life is busy, messy, and sometimes downright exhausting. Within the chaos, we need to find ways to check in with ourselves, so we can identify what is going on with us and what we need and want.
This can be done in so many different ways, but here are a few:
Journaling is a great way to self-reflect and check in with ourselves
This can be done by writing whatever comes to mind, or it can involve:
- A journal prompt could look like “Notice what is going on in your life and write about it.”
- Question/Answer journaling may look like answering the following questions: “What am I feeling right now and why? What do I need at this moment? What are some ways I can support myself today?”
No matter which way you choose to journal, giving yourself the space and freedom to explore can be so powerful.
Go through therapy
One of the best ways to learn about yourself and to check in with yourself is through therapy. With therapy, you learn to be in tune with your wants, needs, feelings, and triggers.
You will be asked tough questions to engage in self-exploration and get past the surface check-ins with yourself and instead dig into what is under the surface to really get to know yourself better.
Meditate and slow down
Sometimes, the best way to check in with ourselves is to turn off our brains and instead slow down. Because of our fast-paced society, we often don’t give ourselves space to be able to reflect and check in with ourselves.
However, if we learn how to slow down and be mindful, we are more in tune with ourselves.
Do a body scan
Want to know what is going on within yourself? Do a body scan. Take a deep breath, and starting with your head, go down your neck, shoulders, back, etc., and notice where there is any tightness and tension.
Where you notice tightness and tension, be curious about what that is about for you. What is the tension in your neck and shoulders about? Why is your hand cramping?
Often we hold so much of our stress and trauma in our bodies and taking the time to get to know our bodies will allow us to get to know ourselves better.
Joni Ogle, LCSW, CSAT
Checking in with yourself is an important part of self-care. It allows you to take stock of your thoughts and feelings and figure out what, if anything, needs to be addressed.
By taking time each day or week to focus on yourself, you can help ensure that you’re staying on top of your mental health. Here are some tips on how to check in with yourself:
Keep a journal
Keeping a journal is another great way to check in with yourself. It can be helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings regularly, as well as any goals or plans you have for yourself.
This can help you keep track of your progress and see how far you’ve come. It can also be a great way to release any pent-up emotions that you may be feeling.
Take some time for yourself
Make sure to schedule time each day or week to focus on just you. This can be used for anything from:
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Going for a walk
It’s important to have some time when you can clear your head and just relax. You can use this time to reflect on your day or week and think about anything that’s been bothering you.
Talk to someone you trust
Talking to someone you trust, whether a friend, family member, therapist or counselor, can be a great way to check in with yourself. This is because they can offer an unbiased opinion and can help you talk through any problems you may be having. They can also provide support and guidance when you need it most.
Get involved in a hobby
Doing something you enjoy can be a great way to focus on something other than your stressors.
It can also help you relax and take your mind off of anything that’s bothering you. When you have a hobby that you’re passionate about, it can be a great outlet for any negative emotions you may be feeling.
Related: How To Find A Hobby As An Adult
Licensed Certified Social Worker
Be aware of your senses and listen to your gut
I often tell people, “I am preaching to the choir,” when I recommend skills to check on their feelings and trust their choices because even I, as a mental health professional, have to make an effort to check on my feelings in various situations.
It is important to evaluate how you feel because it is not hard to get caught up in everyday tasks and completing your to-do list, and forget about what you need for yourself.
We go to our physicians for check-ups for our physical bodies, but rarely are we told to do a check-up for our emotions and thoughts. Check-ups help us become more aware of how we are feeling, how we relate to people, and how we handle stressors.
We have been taught to “just keep going until the job was done,” even when we were not feeling our best or just not feeling the task period.
Increasing our ability to assess our emotions could help prevent feeling anger and angst. The feelings usually come when our authentic feelings are not recognized or acknowledged. Instead, we proceed to do something we did not want to do and become upset about doing those things.
By checking on our emotions, we can make decisions that promote peace in our minds and promote healthier dialogue with others. We may feel more in control of our actions and handling conflict.
I advocate strongly about listening to your gut. I realized there is a sense of forewarning or security when dealing with various situations, and if I had listened to that inner voice, I could have saved myself from heartache!
Be aware of your senses and how your body reacts to people, places, and things. Pay attention to how you feel around certain people or places. And be okay if you are uncomfortable and do not want to proceed.
Allowing oneself to be stressed in pleasing others usually leads to stress and anxiety. Awareness is key, whether you journal or sit still to listen to your inner voice.
Being able to identify what is going on with yourself will not only help you but promote healthier relationships with others.
Related: How to Get to Know Yourself Better
Haley Riddle, MA,LPC-A
Therapist, Mynd Psychiatry
Checking in with your emotions can benefit your mental health, communication, and relationships. When you are able to identify your emotions and effectively communicate them, your relationships can improve.
There are a few ways one can check in with their emotions, including tuning into your body, self-reflection, and breathing techniques.
Tune into your body to identify how you feel
Tuning into your body can help identify physical cues about how you are feeling. Some things to look for include:
- Muscle tension
- Increased pulse rate
- Tightness in your chest
- Increased sweating
Once you notice one of these physical cues, try to take a moment to check in with your emotions. Many times, individuals find that the body is the easiest way to tune into what they are feeling.
Use self-reflection to determine your emotion
Once you have identified a physical cue and taken a moment for yourself, try to use self-reflection to determine your emotion. This can be done by asking yourself, “what is evoking this emotion?”. By figuring out the reasoning behind the emotion, you can increase your insight.
Practicing self-reflection can lead to self-discovery and improving your emotion-identifying skills. This can be helpful when trying to communicate how you are feeling.
Do breathing techniques to identify where the emotion is coming from
Lastly, breathing techniques can help identify your emotions as well. If you look for physical cues and try self-reflection but are still unable to identify your emotion, breathing techniques can help identify where the emotion is coming from.
This can be done by taking a slow, deep breath through your nose and out through your mouth. Deep breathing can help slow the body and mind down while making it easier to focus on your emotions.
Checking in with your emotions can be difficult. To practice this skill, give yourself daily reminders through alarms, sticky notes, or whatever you find helpful. Keep in mind the more frequently you do this, the easier it becomes.
Cherise Small, LCSW
Psychotherapist and CEO, The Healing Point Therapy & Wellness
Allow yourself to feel and ask the hard questions
Checking in with yourself allows you to reflect and assess your true feelings. Being able to check in and identify how you are truly feeling is a great way to increase your self-awareness and mental health.
Your emotions are a great meter that will tell you if you need to check in with yourself. When we feel heavy emotions, that usually means our mind is telling us that we need to either address “something” or take a step back and evaluate what’s happening within us.
Unfortunately, because we all lead busy lives, it can be challenging to check in with our emotions throughout the day.
I suggest after a long day, take a moment to ask yourself a few check-in questions. This will allow you to be intentional with your feelings and emotions. Also, this will increase your self-awareness and overall well-being.
Check out a few check-in questions below:
- “Have I been letting myself feel my feelings?”
- “What inspires me?”
- “What can I forgive myself for?”
- “What can I thank myself for?”
- “What did I do today that made me feel good?”
Overall, learning ways to check in with yourself is very important to your overall mental health and wellness.
Allowing yourself the time and space to truly feel and express what you feel and need will lead you to a happier and healthier life.
Behavior Analyst and CEO, Bolling Behavioral Consulting
There’s a lot going on in life. It can be tough to keep track of it all and even tougher to find time for yourself. But it’s important! You need that time to reflect and recharge to face the next challenge head-on.
Here are a few tips for how to check in with yourself:
Start by taking some deep breaths
This will help you center yourself and focus on the present moment. A good way to do this is to count to three as you inhale, hold your breath for a count of three, and then exhale for a count of three. Repeat this process several times.
Ask yourself what you’re grateful for
No matter what’s going on, there’s always something to appreciate. For example, maybe you’re grateful for your bed after a long day or for a delicious meal you just ate.
Take a step back and assess how you’re feeling
Take a step back and assess how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Are there any areas that need your attention? Do you need to rest or exercise more? Are you feeling anxious or down?
Make a plan for taking care of yourself
Once you know what you need, it’s time to take action! If you’re feeling run-down, schedule some time for relaxation.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make a list of things that are stressing you out and brainstorm ways to deal with them.
Check in with yourself regularly
Life moves quickly, so it’s essential to make time for this reflection on a regular basis. Once a day, once a week, or even once a month can be helpful. Just find what works for you.
Dr. Steven Rosenberg, Ph.D
Psychotherapist | Behavioral Specialist, Quit It Now
Ask yourself questions, identify necessary changes, and make them gradually
Checking in with your emotions is essential to maintaining good mental health. Keeping in tune with your emotions can help you become:
- More resilient
- Lower your anxiety levels
- Stay focused on activities that make you happy
Related: How to Make Yourself Happy
In addition, staying in touch with your emotions can help you talk about your feelings in positive ways, avoid or resolve conflicts more effectively and get past difficult or negative feelings more easily.
I recommend touching base with yourself weekly to assess your life. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I really feel? Am I happy? Do I feel content? Am I fulfilled? The answers can give you direction for change.
- Is what I am doing working for me? Am I doing the same things over and over again without any results? Again, your answers will tell you if change is needed.
- What do I need to change? Sometimes, identifying that you need to change is the biggest hurdle. If you identify necessary changes, make them gradually. Celebrate small successes, one at a time.
- What are my accomplishments? Am I proud of them? Do I tell myself that I am proud? Give yourself a pat on the back. Instead of looking to others for validation, try validating yourself.
- Am I in touch with my feelings? You need to be grateful for all that you are. This will enhance your positivity and your outlook on life.
- Am I mindful of what I can let go of? I need to learn to let go of negativity. Getting rid of or minimizing the negativity in your life opens up space for more positive energy, positive thoughts, and better mental health.
Certified Rapid Transformational Therapy Practitioner | Founder, Emerged Butterfly
Observe your body language
Checking in on your physical body at different moments of the day:
- If you’re clenching your teeth while working.
- If your shoulders are tensed up.
- If your breathing is shallow.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed completing a task.
When you’re aware of how you show up, you can make deliberate choices to change your body postures. Changing your body postures also helps improve how you look at things and see yourself.
Know how you’re feeling from time to time
Every few hours in the day, ask yourself, “how am I feeling right now? What’s causing me to feel this way?“ This increases self-awareness and allows you to intentionally shift your attention and change your behaviors to improve your mood.
Be mindful of your thoughts
Our thoughts create our reality. When you are aware of a negative thought and have the resolution to change the idea to a helpful thought, you get to change the pictures and words you’re showing and telling yourself. That changes your emotions and alters your behavior resulting in a changed outcome.
Meet your needs
It’s a good practice to ask yourself daily, “what do I need right now?“ it might be support, a kind gesture, some space to yourself, a good relaxing massage, or just a listening ear.
Often we hustle through the day catering to the demands and needs of others without tapping into ourselves or our needs. Not meeting your own needs can lead to burnout and feeling exhausted.
However, when you meet your needs, you fuel yourself and fill yourself back up, giving you the energy to focus and stay high performing.
Look for inspiration
Is there a kind of lifestyle you’re often drawn to? Instead of comparing yourself to another person, look for similar experiences you have that they have and visualize or explore your imagination in ways to reach the kind of lifestyle you wish you had.
This reduces the need to feel bad about your circumstances, eliminates resentment or jealousy towards others, and creates excitement and optimism for what is about to be available to you in your future reality.
Jaqueline Miranda, M.S.
Psychologist, Practical Psychology
With the hustle and bustle of life, it can be easy for us to lose sight of the things that really matter. You only have one life to live, so checking in with yourself is not a luxury but a daily necessity.
Here’s how you can check in with yourself in a practical way.
Practice mindfulness and meditation
Practicing mindfulness means focusing on your present—what’s happening in the now. When you’re mindful, you look at your state, feel your emotions, and focus on your senses at the moment.
Mindfulness can relieve stress and anxiety by improving your mood and increasing positive emotions. Mindfulness meditation also helps clear your mind and improves your concentration.
Mindfulness is a lifestyle. You can practice it when eating, exercising, or traveling. Being mindful is living in the present.
Related: Mindfulness: Will It Make Me Happy?
Take a digital break
Whether we admit it or not, social media greatly impacts how we view and value ourselves. Most of the time, it is on the negative side.
One good way to check in with yourself is by taking a digital detox, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
You can go on a weekend getaway or staycation, take a few hours or even minutes off your screens and go for a nature walk. Many times, all you need is to take a break to gain a new outlook.
You can even make it a habit to take a digital detox every day. Create a reminder by setting your alarm clock or jotting it in your journal.
Related: 25+ Benefits of a Social Media Detox
Brittany Freeman Jean-Louis, LPC, ACS
Therapist and CEO, A Freeman’s Place Counseling, LLC
Lack of self-awareness is one of the biggest reasons people are not able to check in with themselves. Here are a few ways to become more self-aware to begin self-check-ins.
Make check-ins a part of your morning and bedtime routine
Start by creating a routine to check in with yourself. Check in with yourself before you start your day in the morning and check in with yourself before bedtime. Make check-ins a part of your morning and bedtime routine.
Checking in with yourself in the morning helps you to process lingering feelings, thoughts, and emotions from the day before.
Further, doing morning check-ins will allow you to set goals for the day. Bedtime check-ins help you to examine your day and what incidents may have triggered difficult emotions.
Making a list of those things in a journal may help decrease stress before bedtime so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Mindfulness is simply staying in the present moment. What is going on right now in the moment that you can fully embrace? Mindfulness can be counting your steps as you are taking a walk, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
Scan your body to find tension
During your morning and bedtime routine, scan your body to find tension. Body scanning can help you explore where tension resides, and you become more aware of how stress affects your body.
When identifying the tension, you can practice progressive muscle relaxation to help find the tension and then successfully release the tension as you purposely tense your body to release stress.
Diane Renz, MA, LPC
Licensed Psychotherapist | Neuroscience Practical Applications Facilitator, Center for Healthy Habits
Ask yourself, “how are you?”
This is a 30-second practice to do three times a day. We all ask the question in our social civility, but rarely do we really want to know, and certainly not the details.
You know, running into an acquaintance, you each say, “how are you?” and mostly reply, “fine, thanks, how are you?” even if the sky is falling!
But we can genuinely be interested in how we are to train to be connected to our experience. From this self-awareness, our appropriate conscious action will come instead of reactive behavior that comes from our disconnected states of being.
Steps of “how are you” practice
- Ask yourself, “how are you?”—the first answer is the best.
- How do you know it? E.g., “I’m tired, I feel heavy in my body.”
- What does this tell me? E.g., I need early sleep tonight. I need to take a sustainable break and really rest to restore now. I know now I don’t have to lean too heavily on my emotional reactions or trust my thinking until I rest and reboot.
- Simply ask, what is one thing I need to add or take away to support my connection, clarity, and communication right now?
Use the S.I.T.E. (sensation, imagination, thoughts, emotions) of your direct experience to know yourself. When you do the “how are you practice,” check into those domains of your experience to know how you know.
Soon you will feel more naturally attuned to your experience and learn when to take action instead or react.
Melodi Parker, M.Ed, LPC-S, NCC
Owner/Founder, Mending Broken Pieces Counseling & Consulting Services
Reset your mind
Is your emotional love bank full or empty? Check-in with yourself by doing the following:
- Reset your mind. Take 30 sec to take three deep breaths to connect your mind and body; this allows you to think clearly and make decisions (morning/evening routine).
- Meditate and affirm. State three affirmations aloud: “I (will/must/have, etc.) ______”. To make it personal, state the affirmations while looking in the mirror.
- Identify your feelings and emotions. Feel your emotions and identify what you’re feeling in your body; connect with it.
- Ask yourself, “what do I know to be true?” to rationalize your thoughts and identify your feelings; focus on your truth and state the facts.
- Set boundaries. Before you check on others, allow time/space to check in on yourself—it’s okay to say no! If you don’t have anything in your emotional love bank, you can’t give it to anyone else.
Operations Supervisor, Australian National Care
Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions
It’s essential to stay in touch with your thoughts and emotions. How are you feeling? What’s on your mind? Checking in with yourself can help you stay grounded and aware of what’s going on inside you.
If you notice that you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or stressed, it may be time to take a break or reach out to someone for support.
Paying attention to your inner life can help you identify areas that need work or healing. Maybe you need to let go of something, or maybe there’s an issue you need to deal with head-on. Either way, listening to what your heart is telling you is essential. You can live a more authentic and fulfilling life by staying attuned to yourself.
Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling
If you’re not honest about your feelings, it’ll be difficult to understand what you need or how to improve your current situation.
Being honest with yourself includes being aware of your thoughts and emotions. Don’t try to bottle things up; acknowledge how you’re feeling and why you might feel that way.
Checking in with yourself also means being mindful of your physical health. Are you eating properly? Getting enough sleep? Exercising regularly? All these things play a role in your overall well-being, so paying attention to them is vital.
Lastly, checking in with yourself means taking the time to do something that makes you happy.
Make sure you schedule in some “me” time every week, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Whether reading, going for a walk, or taking a yoga class, find something that brings you joy and stick to it.
Checking in with yourself can seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it if it means living a happier, healthier life.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you’re struggling
It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed out from time to time. However, if you find that your anxiety is impacting your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may be time to seek professional help.
A qualified therapist can provide tools and strategies for coping with anxiety and help you understand your anxiety’s root causes. In addition, therapy can provide a much-needed outlet for discussing your concerns and stressors.
If you’re feeling like you’re struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Make time for self-care activities that make you feel good
Everyone has different ideas about what self-care entails. For some, it may be taking a relaxing bath at the end of a long day. Others may find that going for a run or reading a good book helps to improve their mood.
However, one common thread runs through all self-care activities: they should make you feel good. Taking care of yourself should be an enjoyable experience that leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
If an activity is causing you stress or making you feel worse, it’s not worth your time. So, set aside some time each week for activities that make you feel good and help you relax. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
Talk to someone you trust about what’s going on in your life
It can be challenging to open up about what’s going on in your life, especially if you’re going through a tough time. You may feel like you’re burdening others or that no one will understand.
But talking to someone you trust—a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor—can be incredibly beneficial. When you share your thoughts and feelings, you better understand yourself and your situation.
Talking also allows you to release built-up emotions and receive support from someone who cares about you. If you’re feeling lost or alone, reach out to someone you trust. You don’t have to face your challenges by yourself.
Checking in with yourself is crucial to taking care of your mental health. By checking in with yourself regularly, you can identify any areas of concern and take steps to address them. So, don’t be afraid to check in with yourself often. Your mental health will thank you for it.
Clinical Social Worker and Therapist
Take small breaks and incorporate naps
Let me tell you, as therapists, we espouse this to clients. Be grounded, use self-care tools, and set good boundaries. But we sometimes don’t take our own advice.
I’ve had to be very intentional with checking in with myself. For me, it’s about taking small breaks between appointments and walking around or shaking my limbs (like a wild body shake).
For me, it’s realizing that I hold a lot of space for clients, which can unconsciously become a big weight on my shoulders.
I’ve incorporated naps into my day. It took some practice and getting used to it, but I set my alarm for 45 minutes, and after a few weeks, I was able to fall asleep quickly and wake up refreshed (before that, I’d just want to keep sleeping).
These naps keep me grounded, less stressed, and ready to face the next set of appointments or challenges.
Question and honestly assess where you are, how you feel, and what you need
As a mental health advocate and public speaker, I talk about checking in on yourself daily. Because mental health has become such a hot topic, some of the most important phrases surrounding the subject have become buzzwords.
“Checking in on yourself” is one of those phrases, which is frustrating because it has never been more important. We, as a world, are in a deep mental health crisis. It is our job to take care of ourselves. But how do we do that when we are so busy, burnt out, and exhausted?
In my experience, it only takes a few minutes to check in. Here’s what I ask myself.
- “Have I been sleeping well?”
- “Have I been making time for myself?”
- “Have I been focused?”
- “Have I been drinking enough water?”
- “Have I been showering regularly?”
- “Have I been eating healthily?”
When I answer these questions honestly, I can assess where I am, how I am feeling, and what I need to change to get myself together again.
Make a realistic plan to make adjustments
The trick is to make a realistic plan to make the adjustments. If my answer to “Have I been making time for myself?” is “no,” then the solution needs to be something I can actually do.
For me, that goal is a 45-minute spin class. I want more time to myself, but it is not always in the cards. This is something I know I can prioritize and fit into my hectic schedule without disrupting too much.
When I set realistic goals for myself, I set myself up for success, making me feel way more in control of my mental health.
I keep these questions saved on my phone. They are also highlighted on my mental health organization’s social media feed. Easy access is key, and five minutes is all you need.
Check in with yourself. You deserve to have your own attention.
Yoga Teacher and Mindfulness Coach, Yoga Raccoon
In today’s society, it’s hard to grasp our inner feelings or even think I thought to an end—the constant demand of your job, family, and friends leaving us feeling guilty and pressured. Our cortisol levels (stress hormones) are always leveled up.
But we’re used to it, so we don’t even notice. Just taking a moment of stillness every day can help you focus on yourself.
You need to be present
Our heads are always either in the future or in the past, but what about the now? It’s the now that is precious; it’s the now that forms our future.
Why is it so hard to concentrate on the now? Deadlines, upcoming events, and things we fear could happen based on past experiences, and so on.
Our brains are so focused on preparing and preventing things from happening. And in the end, things turn out totally different, and you waste your thoughts for nothing.
So don’t worry about taking a few minutes to reflect each day.
One minute tune-in
Read all four steps, then practice yourself. You will feel a difference. I promise!
- Take a deep inhale as if you were to fill every inch of your lungs with air.
- Exhale, squeezing every bit of air out of your body.
- Repeat 3x with full awareness.
- Close your eyes and ask yourself: “How do you feel at this moment?”
In this exercise, you are completely focusing on your breathing. There is no room for anything else in your mind. The perfect foundation to tune in.
What else can I do? Meditation, talking to a true friend, journaling (which is just as good as talking to a friend, with the difference that you can re-read things later), and practicing mindfulness.
Life Coach and Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist
Stop and ask what in your past a situation reminds you of and why
We all get mad and sometimes really mad. Some call this being triggered. When something big or small really makes me mad (hysterical), I stop and ask myself what in my past (history) this reminds me of and why.
Ninety percent of the time when I am really mad and stop to ask myself this question, I can check myself to recognize what part of my history the hysterical is coming from. This helps me find clarity, breathe, and calm myself down.
Everything we think, feel, or do comes from either fear or love. I used to avoid conflict in any way I could. I would people please, hide, run. I would have joined to witness protection program if I could have to avoid a conflict or confrontation!
I slowly learned that everything I do and everyone does come from either a place of fear or love. When I face a conflict, I look at the situation, check myself and try to feel if my reactions are coming from fear or love; then, I do the same with the other person there is a conflict with.
Looking at conflict in this way helps me check myself and look upon the situation with compassion for myself and the other person and helps me stay grounded.
This has completely changed how I handle conflict, and I am now happy to hit conflicts head, and I don’t need to run away or join the witness protection program.
Carolyn Frost, Ed.D., M.A.
Health and Wellness Mindset Coach, Balance Yoga & Wellness
Check in with a journaling practice
I talk extensively in my work about the importance of looking inwards to live an authentic, purposeful, meaningful life.
One of the best, easiest, and life-altering ways I’ve ever found to do this is through journaling. There are a million ways to do it, and there is a way out there for everyone.
Take the opportunity each morning to find even a single deep breath and then bring a pen to paper to write about what comes up. It’s the best way to understand:
- How you’re feeling
- What’s on your mind
- How you want to feel
In time you will find that these few minutes (starting with just two minutes a day) each morning are often the most productive of the whole day, helping you tune in to find clarity, intention, gratitude, and purpose in the following hours.
Checking in with a journaling practice is the best thing you can do for your mental health and overall well-being. It is time very well spent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Checking in With Yourself Important?
Checking in with yourself is a critical practice that helps to maintain good mental and emotional health. It involves taking time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to better understand your overall well-being.
Here are some reasons why checking in with yourself is important:
• Improves self-awareness: When you check in with yourself, you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This self-awareness can help you identify patterns in your behavior, thoughts, and emotions that may be harmful to your mental health.
• Reduces stress: Taking time to check in with yourself can help you manage stress by allowing you to identify and address the source of your stress. You can then develop strategies to deal with stress more healthily.
• Enhances relationships: By checking in with yourself, you can better understand your needs and emotions, improving your relationships with others. This can lead to better communication, less conflict, and deeper connections.
• Increases self-confidence: When you check in with yourself regularly, you may become more confident in your own thoughts and feelings, allowing you to make better decisions and be more self-assured.
• Supports personal growth: Checking in with yourself allows you to evaluate your progress and identify areas for improvement. This can help you set realistic goals and work towards personal growth and self-improvement.
• Promotes resilience: Regular self-reflection can help build stability and strengthen your ability to cope with challenges and stressors. You can develop strategies to bounce back from setbacks and adversity by understanding your strengths and weaknesses.
• Improves decision-making: By checking in with yourself, you can gain clarity on your values, beliefs, and priorities, which can help guide your decision-making process. This can lead to more informed and confident decision-making, both in personal and professional situations.
• Increases mindfulness: When you check in with yourself, you become more mindful of the present moment and your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness is a key component of emotional well-being and can help reduce anxiety and stress.
How Often Should I Check in With Myself?
It is ideal to check in with yourself at least once a day. This can be done through journaling, meditation, or simply taking a few moments to reflect on your thoughts and emotions.
It’s also beneficial to schedule regular check-ins throughout the week, such as at the end of each day or on the weekends. This will give you a consistent opportunity to reflect on your progress and make any necessary adjustments.
If you’re going through a particularly challenging time, increasing the frequency of your check-ins may be helpful. This can help you stay on top of any difficult emotions and prevent them from spiraling out of control.
Remember, checking in with yourself is a personal process and may look different for everyone. The key is making it a consistent part of your routine and approaching it with openness and compassion.
What Are Good Check-in Questions?
Good check-in questions help assess and understand an individual’s emotional state, well-being, and progress toward their goals. These questions should be open-ended and non-judgmental to encourage open and honest communication.
Examples of good check-in questions include:
• “How are you feeling today?”
• “What’s been on your mind lately?”
• “What has been going well for you this week?”
• “What challenges have you faced recently?”
• “What have you accomplished that you’re proud of?”
• “What support do you need right now?”
• “What has been your biggest accomplishment this week/month?”
• “What have you been struggling with lately?”
• “What do you need support with right now?”
• “What are your current priorities?”
• “What have you been learning about yourself recently?”
• “What goals do you have for the future?”
• “What do you feel grateful for today?”
• “What have you been doing to take care of yourself lately?”
• “What have you been doing to reach your goals?”
How Do You Know When to Check Yourself?
Checking yourself is a process of examining your thoughts, behaviors, and motivations to better understand yourself and make changes as needed. Here are a few signs that it may be time to check yourself:
• Negative emotions: If you’re feeling consistently unhappy, frustrated, or stressed, it may be a sign that you need to take a step back and evaluate what’s causing these emotions.
• Poor relationships: If your relationships with others are suffering, it’s worth looking at your own behavior and attitudes toward others.
• Lack of motivation: If you’re feeling uninspired or unmotivated, it could be a sign that you’re not living in alignment with your values and goals.
• Unhealthy habits: If you’re engaging in behaviors that are harmful to your health, such as substance abuse or neglecting self-care, it’s important to check yourself and find healthier ways to cope.
• Insecurity: If you’re feeling insecure or lacking in confidence, it may be a sign that you must check yourself and work on building self-esteem.
Remember, checking yourself is a continual process and should be approached with self-compassion and a willingness to learn and grow. By regularly reflecting on your thoughts, behaviors, and motivations, you can improve and become the best version of yourself.
How Do I Know if I Need Mental Help?
Mental health is an important aspect of overall health and well-being. If you’re unsure whether you need mental health support, here are some signs to look for:
• Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness: If you’ve been feeling down for an extended period of time and it’s impacting your daily life, it may be time to seek help.
• Changes in sleep and appetite: Significant changes in your sleep patterns and appetite can indicate that something is off with your mental health.
• Difficulty concentrating: If you’re finding it hard to focus on tasks or activities you used to enjoy, this may be a sign of a mental health issue.
• Increased anxiety or panic: If you’re feeling excessively worried or panicky and affecting your daily life, it may be time to seek support.
• Substance abuse: Substance abuse can often be a sign of underlying mental health problems and may be a cause for concern.
• Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: If you’re having thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life, it’s important to seek help immediately.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you must reach out to a mental health professional. They can help you determine the cause of your symptoms and provide you with the support and treatment you need.
Remember, seeking help for mental health concerns shows strength and courage, not weakness.
What Are Things You Can Do for Self-Care?
• Exercise: Regular physical activity has numerous benefits, including reducing stress, improving mood, and boosting overall health.
• Eat well: Eating a balanced diet filled with nutrient-dense foods can help you maintain good physical and mental health.
• Get enough sleep: Getting adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining physical and mental well-being. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
• Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being.
• Connect with others: Spending time with friends, family, or a support group can help you feel connected, reduce stress and improve your mental health.
• Do things you enjoy: Engage in activities you find enjoyable, such as hobbies, reading, or listening to music, to reduce stress and improve mood.
• Take breaks: Taking time off from work or other responsibilities can help you recharge, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being.
• Practice self-compassion: Be kind and understanding to yourself instead of being self-critical. This can help improve your mental health and self-esteem.
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