Life is tough. Sometimes you want to check out. Smoke pot, drink, play video games, mindlessly watch Netflix.
I get it, and I’ve been there. Relaxation is necessary—in moderation.
But sometimes when we want to check out, what we really need to do is check in.
What are Check-Ins?
People tell us to check in with our friends to make sure they are doing OK. But it’s imperative we check in with ourselves.
When you check-in with yourself, you take a moment to collect your thoughts.
This could be when we’re having a bad day, feeling a powerful emotion, or working towards a goal.
For example, if you are feeling annoyed. Before responding to an email or text, check in with yourself. Should you take a minute, go for a walk, slow down?
Why Check In Instead of Check Out
Sometimes tools we use to relax end up being unhealthy coping mechanisms. So instead of wanting a drink, we need it. We chase the numbness.
We watch TV and check out of life, abandoning our goals and avoiding the problems that will still wait for us when the show is over.
When we check in we make sure we are not activating unhealthy coping mechanism. That the drink we are having, the Netflix binge isn’t a numbing activity.
We are actively living and not avoiding.
Benefits of Check-Ins
You’re more likely to get stuck if you check out when times get tough.
The unhealthy coping mechanisms become habit. And when things feel heavy, the habit helps you avoid.
You can end up spending time and money avoiding your problem when less time and money could be spent fixing it.
Or you could end up being out of tune with your emotions, have a strong emotional response, and end up being the one apologizing when you were wronged.
We need growth in order to feel fulfilled. So not only financially, check ins will positively impact your relationships and your mental and emotional well-being. It’s going to keep you stuck and in a fixed mindset.
Time for a Check In?
You can do a check in whenever you want. During a crucial conversation: are we staying on track?
While aiming for a goal: am I on track? How far have I come?
When feeling annoyed: is it best to walk away?
When feeling happy: what is creating the happiness, how can I get here more?
Check Ins and Triggers
There are factors in our environment that can remind us of traumatic or unfavorable events. This can have us feeling a heightened emotional state which can lead to powerful reactions.
Doing a check-in when you are triggered could look like slowing down when you feel your heart racing.
How to Do a Check In
A check in is stopping and collecting your thoughts.
How do you feel?
Why are you feeling this way?
What triggered the emotion?
What can you not control?
Do you need to respond right away?
Can you take a moment?
What are the stakes?
A check in can be a momentary thing, taking a breath in the hallway before entering the room. Taking a moment during an argument or disagreement.
Or it can be a longer moment. Making tea and reflecting on a previous conversation or situation.
Self Check-Ins Help Us Achieve Goals
Typically, when we’re working towards a goal, we have several subgoals. For example, someone who wants to lose weight will aim to eat healthier and work out or move more.
When we work on goals, we’re working on the picture up close. Sometimes we can get so caught up in looking how far we need to go we lose sight of how far we’ve come.
A check in helps to acknowledge how far you’ve come and if you need to reevaluate your goals and sub-goals. It helps to build momentum and keep you on track.
Related podcast episode: Checking In – 50
Power of Check-Ins
Check-ins help us connect with our emotions. This is a powerful skill that will continue to strengthen the more you do it. Think of check ins like a mind gym. You’re building muscle.
You’ll be less likely to have powerful emotional responses and you’ll stay on track towards your goals.
This will contribute to heightened EQ (emotional intelligence) which will improve mental and emotional well-being.
So the next time you are feeling a strong reaction, instead of responding, take a minute. Slow down. Question where the emotion is coming from.
And when you are working towards a goal, make sure to take a step back. Look at how far you’ve already climbed before focusing on how much further you need to go.