Checking in with your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical self is an important way to purposefully direct your attention during the day - if you don’t know where you’re starting, how can you mindfully move forward? The more you intentionally check-in with yourself as part of a routine, the easier it will become – you’ll eventually perform these check-ins without even knowing it! If you’re new to these routines, here are five simple ways to start incorporating them into your day.
Candle gazing is a great way to check-in with your emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical states all at the same time – it’s up to you which to focus on! Light a candle in a calm space and set a timer for at least 10 minutes. Your only task now is to watch the flame - but after a few minutes, you’ll begin to notice how your body feels and whether it was easy to calm your breathing and relax into the moment; you’ll see whether your thoughts keep heading towards a particular topic or feeling. After the exercise, you’ll feel more connected to your whole self and can set an intention that directs energy to the areas you identified during the exercise.
Having too many thoughts swirling around in your head can make focusing on a specific one difficult. It’s hard to identify your goals for the day and check-in on your mental state when you have so much on your mind. A great way to disarm this overwhelming feeling and check-in with yourself is to establish a morning journaling routine. First thing every morning, sit down and write three pages; there isn’t a structure to these pages or thoughts, just whatever comes to mind gets written on the page. After you’ve finished, read back through your notes and highlight or circle words that seem to appear frequently (common ones might be emotions, specific tasks, etc.). These repetitive ideas give you some insight into your current mental state for the day and will allow you to develop a focus.
Emotional Wellness Checklist
Checking in on your emotional state throughout the day is an integral part of mindfulness, and knowing what feelings are most prevalent can allow you to focus your time and effort in a way that works with those feelings rather than against them. If you’d like some structure in your emotional check-in, try this emotional wellness checklist. Full of aspirational practices and goals for emotional wellness in areas like social relationships and sleep, this checklist can help you focus on one or two items each day. Start your morning by reading through the checklist; mentally (or physically!) check the boxes where you feel solid, and notice which boxes are left blank. From these blank boxes, choose one or two that you can direct your energy toward for the remainder of the day. You may be surprised how much your checklist changes from day to day!
Follow the Breath
One of the most basic and important check-ins we can do is with our physical body. Not only should you connect to your body in the morning to set an intention for the day, but your check-ins throughout the day will help your mind and energy refocus on what’s most pressing. A simple way to assess your physical self is with a “follow the breath” exercise. Lie (or sit) in a quiet place and put on a timer for at least 5 minutes (10 is ideal). Begin by breathing deeply, and when you’ve developed a comfortable rhythm, try to have your thoughts follow your breath through your body. Imagine it’s traveling everywhere, getting pictures of your physical state along the way. Notice when your breath runs into an obstacle, perhaps an achy muscle or tense stomach. After your time is up, focus your energy on those trouble spots for the remainder of the day.
Using affirmations in your mindfulness practice is a great way to intentionally direct your energy and start your day from a position of strength. Affirmations can also be used to check-in with your mental, emotional, and spiritual states. Begin by writing/choosing a set of affirmations that you’ll repeat daily (as a starting point, here are sample spiritual, motivational, and general positive affirmations). Practice saying them to yourself with a calm, positive resolve – the most important part of an affirmation is that you believe it! Every day, notice which affirmation(s) is hardest for you to believe; perhaps you speak one more quietly than the others or catch yourself mentally rolling your eyes as you say it. That affirmation will give you a clue into your current state of mind and allow you to direct your energy to rebuild that belief throughout the day.
With these exercises, you’ll be able to easily check-in with your entire self every day so that you can mindfully move toward personal success!