We check our phone hundreds of times a day, but how often do we check in with ourselves? Something that I have written about several times before in previous blog posts is the concept of “checking in with yourself” to assess your feelings, state of wellness, and your current needs. But what I have not spoken about is how we actually do that. Sometimes in psychology we talk about things without clarity on how to start these emotional practices. Today I want to discuss what it really means to “check in” with yourself.
Step 1. Pause: Slow down, and take a deep breath. We cannot check in if we are still in a state of flow moving through our day. Taking the time and space to step back is necessary in order to be able to take in and assess our personal state of wellbeing.
Step 2. Reflect & Assess: Here we take an inventory of our current state in all formats: emotionally, cognitively, and physiologically. For many of us we are better at noticing some of these domains than we are at noticing others.
Step 3. Turn inwards and get curious about what is happening internally: Here we can ask ourselves what needs are not being met at this time. Specifically, what do you need more or less of? What do you need from yourself vs. what needs do you have for others at this time? What do we need to refuel of ourselves vs. what can we give or expect from others?
Checking in with oneself can be really helpful in giving us the opportunity to reflect and bring awareness to imbalances in our current state of wellness. But awareness is often not enough if it is not communicated with the people we live with. We often forget that our moods can appear invisible to others. After checking in with oneself it can be helpful to check in with your partner/family members about our current state of wellbeing and our needs from them as support systems.
Similar to the structure above, checking in with a partner may involve:
1) notifying them of our current state of mental health
e.g., “I’m feeling drained of energy today”
2) Notifying the partner what they can do to best support your needs
e.g., “It would be really appreciated if you could give me some space at this time, as I need the rest of the afternoon to practice self care”.
3) The partner repeats step 1 & 2 to communicate their current state of wellbeing and needs from you.
Have you been checking in with yourself and your partner lately?
What have you found are helpful components to a check in?
Let us know on our Wellness Wednesday social platforms.
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Quarantine has led us all to convert our daily life to virtual life. I know I don’t only speak for myself when I say that screen time now takes up a large portion of my day. Whether it’s Zoom work meetings, virtual dating, online shopping, FaceTiming loved ones, watching the news on cable TV, YouTube workout videos, or Netflix at night we are all spending more time online.
These screens are necessary because they allow us to continue connecting, working, exercising, and relaxing. Most importantly these virtual platforms enable us to maintain a sense of normalcy. Despite all of these benefits I simultaneously feel like I am experiencing a digital overload. Instead of fighting against technology I decided that I am going to make technology work for me and start to be more aware and intentional about how I use it.
Here are four changes that I have made to how I use my phone:
What have you been noticing about your screen time usage lately?
Have you been participating in any quarantine activities that are screen free?
Let us know on our Wellness Wednesday social platforms.
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Last Wednesday I chose to take a hiatus out of respect for the anti-racism protests that arose around the world in response to the atrocities that took place in Minneapolis. Wellness Wednesday fully supports the equal treatment of all people, and is horrified by the acts of racism that continue to persist in our society.
Taking a pause on posting helped me reflect on how I consume social media, and how I, as a creator and consumer of media, can move forward in a healthy manner. This is a complicated topic. Consuming media about distressing topics leads to an obvious emotional strain. At the same time, as a privileged individual I recognize that feeling uncomfortable is an important part of what propels growth and change.
Simultaneously, in the wake of an already stressful few months in the world, I also recognize the utility of taking a pause, and mindfully navigating a more balanced approach to media consumption.
I recently listened to the Ted Talks podcast with author Elizabeth Gilbert who discussed the impact of language on our perspective and interpretation of a given experience.
This podcast helped me begin to think differently about the way we are perceiving our current situation, and perhaps our ability to see it in a more favourable light. For example, the word quarantine, a word which describes living circumstances that we are all currently experiencing helps to solidify the negative emotional experience of fear and isolation. Although this is certainly not a positive experience in our world, maintaining that perspective may exacerbate negative emotions and impact our ability to cope. Elizabeth asked the audience to imagine calling our current experience a “retreat” rather than quarantine and how this wording might help to open our minds to the potential for growth during this unique experience.
Another word choice that is discussed by Elizabeth Gilbert is focussing on developing “compassion” for the experience of others during this stressful time, rather than cultivating “empathy” which may be too taxing on our wellbeing during the current pandemic. She discussed how empathy is usually a good thing, but truly feeling the pain of others may be too much to ask of ourselves to give right now. Rather, having compassion for the pain of others maintains the appropriate and necessary boundaries that allow us to show care and concern while being aware of the amount of suffering we are already experiencing in ourselves.
Our words can also indicate our cognitive biases and distortions. Most of the time we do not even realize how our words articulate and reinforce errors in thinking that limit our view of a situation. One of the most common cognitive distortions that I see being used by my clients is black & white / all or nothing thinking. They say “I’ll never be able to find a job” or “I’m always awkward on dates”. Without realizing it, we let our word choices dictate our perspective and therefore our beliefs about ourselves, the future, and the world.
In respect for the current rallies in protest of racism, it is also important to acknowledge the language that we use intentionally or unintentionally that reinforces stereotypes, racism or hatred of any kind. Although it is explicit racism that makes the news and makes us shudder, implicit racism is perpetuated with our words, comments and questions, not realizing the implications and messages that they communicate.
In an effort to try and actively create a better experience for myself I am choosing to be more aware of the words that I am using and how they impact my mood, my perspective, and my treatment of others.
What have you noticed about the words you have been using lately? Connect with us on our social channels to let us know.
Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.
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