Today I want to talk about one of the simple ways I incorporate mindfulness into my daily life, embracing the daily practice of emotional check ins. You may remember from a previous post, that mindfulness can best be described as awareness. Not just general awareness, but super sensitive, in-the-moment, awareness. This in-the-moment awareness can be used to notice a variety of things, but I use it most often to refer to emotions. Emotional mindfulness involves taking a detailed reading of what we’re feeling at any given moment, working to pinpoint exactly what we’re feeling. (I would highly encourage you to reread this post to help refresh your memory on the goodness of mindfulness.)
Mindfulness isn’t a permanent state or destination, rather it is a practice. A practice of being able to slow down your mind, tune into your body, and be aware of what you’re experiencing. Emotional check ins are one of the easiest ways to start the practice of mindfulness, taking an in-the-moment reading of what you’re feeling.
Here are 5 tips to get you started.
Tune into your body. Your body often sends physical cues about how you’re feeling. Perhaps your shoulders are tense, you’re walking quicker than normal, or your heart is racing. Perhaps you’re sitting more slumped than normal, you are talking less in a meeting, or your muscles are heavy and tired. Notice these physical cues, and let them serve as a reminder to check in with yourself.
Take a deep breath. Take a slow and full breath, taking your time to notice your deep inhale and your deep exhale. This helps to slow down your mind, reduce distractions, and focus you in on your experience.
Ask the question. Use the simple question, “How am I feeling?” Make it even more specific by tagging what you are doing at the moment to the end of question. For example, “How am I feeling as I’m walking down the hall?” “How am I feeling as I’m driving to work? “How am I feeling as I climb into bed?” Adding the action you’re currently doing will help focus your brain on this moment.
Use descriptive words to capture how you feel in the moment. I’ve talked about this before, and the concept of using specific, tailored, and detailed words to describe your experience is incredibly important when doing emotional check ins. Use this printable emotion word list to help you with this task. (You can read more about this concept here.)
Repeat daily. Then twice daily, then three times daily. The more you practice, the easier this process will be, eventually becoming a habit.
Remember, the more we know what we’re feeling in a given moment, the more we can do something about it. Emotional awareness of what’s happening in the current moment provides an opportunity that we can do something to feel very different in the next moment.
Like most everything healthy, emotional check ins take some time and effort at first. It may not feel natural or easy, and that’s ok. Pick an activity you do daily and connect your check in to that activity, keeping yourself accountable. You may want to set an alert on your phone or keep a sticky note nearby to serve as a reminder. Continue to practice. You will start to notice a difference, an increased level of awareness. A powerful opportunity to do something different.
So go forth, and check-in!