Checking In On Yourself

”If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?”

Confucius

I’ve been focusing in on the importance of self-care and self-awareness lately, and one of the essential components of it is to know what you need and when you need it.

And it can be as complex as an elaborate checklist detailing all your physical and emotional parts (think something like a vehicle inspection), or it could be as simple as asking yourself “how is your heart?

As usual, I am writing this post as much for myself as I am writing it for you. I feel like our home and possessions are out of balance these days, so I need to take a moment to evaluate the root cause of that (I’m guessing that it’s overwhelming busyness).

Let’s take a look at what a middle-of-the-road self check-in might look like.

Check In On Yourself

Give yourself space

Commutes and random time spent waiting at a coffee shop for a friend are good times to do a quick alignment check, but to really dive in you should give yourself the time and space you need.

Grab a notebook (even if you don’t use it – am I the only one who thinks better when I have a notebook nearby?) and a beverage and set up camp in a comfortable space. Allow yourself the pleasure of an uninterrupted span of time (I’m going to go with 30 minutes).

A 3-point check up

You might want to add more or only focus on one of these at a time, but here’s a good place to start.

Emotional

This is where you ask yourself about the state of your heart. Are you feeling full and whole? Do you feel balanced, or are there things nagging at your gut that you haven’t fully addressed? Get in the habit of digging deeper to find what is truly at the heart of the matter.

Here is also the place to ask yourself about your relationships – with yourself and with others. Are you connecting in the way that you want to? Do you need another friend to fill a space you currently are missing, or do you need to say goodbye to someone who is detracting from your happiness?

Physical

This is the one I’ve been focusing on lately. It’s a different way of approaching your gut!

Is the beautiful machine that is your body functioning as it should? Are you aching or stiff from sitting all day? Are you pushing yourself too hard?

Many of us are too tough on our bodies, so approach this check-in with a lot of love and kindness for yourself. Don’t make it an opportunity for harsh self-criticism, focus on positive ways you can serve that already miraculous body of yours so it can serve you back.

Mental

Allowing yourself to stagnate is easy once you’re out of the structure of a school. Here is where you ask yourself what you’ve learned lately. What are you excited about learning? Do you currently have projects that you are passionate about and motivated to work on?

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Henry Ford

Now is also the time to ask yourself about your current goals. What is guiding you right now? Is it a solid guiding principal or is it a vague direction? Whatever your answer to that question should be followed up with this: is that how I want it to be?

Ask yourself why

After each check-in, ask yourself why you feel that way. Filtering your grievances through a few layers of “whys” will help you discover the values behind them. Maybe the real reason your are frustrated with clutter in your home is that you don’t find your space inspiring.

From there, evaluate if there’s a way to address the issue. Search for other spaces that you feel are more inspiring, or seek out ways to create a truly inspiring home from what you already have.

This is the most important part – if you’ve had headaches lately, don’t just stop at that. Find out if it’s caffeine or sugar or stress and then actively seek answers.

A quick gratitude warm-down

Warm downs are important when you’re exercising, and I don’t see this as any different. Bring yourself back from the check-in by listing five things you are grateful for right now.

Just like with each check-in, ask yourself why you are grateful for these things. Reflecting on what you are grateful for (and, in my opinion, why you are) makes for a happy brain.

Simple living and intentional living are one and the same: you can’t have a simple life without knowing yourself and knowing the intentions that drive you.

So what do you need to check in on today?

Advertisements

Holiday Blues

It’s that time of year: family visits, twinkling lights, coffee & cocoa, and all sorts of schedule disruptions.

I’ve been feeling a little scrooge-y this holiday season, as you may have guessed by my absence recently. Trying to wrap up (heh, Christmas pun) the year, figure out presents (since for the first time ever, we won’t be present) and keep a regular daily work schedule has worn me out.

Holiday BluesFor anyone else out there who’s trying to keep it simple and finding it difficult: I am too. Trying to fight the commercial holiday stress brings its own stresses.

So, today’s post is as much for me as it is for you.

Keeping the holidays merry and bright

These can be applied year-round, but are always my must-haves in times of stress. Here is what I’m going to be focusing on this next month, since I’ve overlooked these for the past few weeks.

Eliminate the nonessential

Are there things you think you need to do, but that you really don’t want to do? Consider each commitment carefully and respect your time enough to say no when you feel that’s the best option.

Going with the flow can turn into getting carried away in the current, and Christmas isn’t about trying to avoid rapids and sharp rocks. Keep the holidays on your terms.

Eat, drink and be healthy

Hangovers in college were terrible. Hangovers after college are the worst – every emotion comes flooding out and piles on top of an unproductive day. Add in the holidays and…well, it’s not pretty.

If this applies to you, find the least emotionally-wrecking booze for you and drink moderately. Me + wine = sadness, so I try to steer clear of it.

But this doesn’t just apply to alcohol – eat your veggies any chance you get. I toss back a veggie-heavy smoothie or two every day to make sure I get my greens.

Progress, not perfection

This is something I see shared around the fitness community, and I find it powerfully relevant in all aspects of life. Especially as this year comes to an end.

A dear friend of mine understands the workings of my mind, and advised me to take a moment and write down all the things I have accomplished or improved upon this year. If you try this too, be generous with yourself and note that any progress is positive.

This helps me put 2015 into perspective and encourages a positive attitude for the start of 2016.

And a note on perfection: don’t let the stress of creating a perfect holiday or finding the perfect gift ruin your time with family and friends.

Kindness is key

Being kind to others goes without saying, but especially remember to be kind to yourself.

Be patient with yourself when you stray from the path you wanted to follow. Be kind to yourself so you can flourish. Allow yourself a few moments of solitude, or extra minutes of sleeping in, or skip a chore and go for a walk instead.

Or, if you’re in an area that has Stumptown Coffee, grab a little Winter Cheer. You won’t regret it.

Holiday Blues Coffee

Winter Cheer cold brew from Stumptown is actually all I want for Christmas.

So take a moment to check in on yourself: how are you doing?

If you’re struggling, pay attention to where the balance has shifted. What can you do to restore your joy this holiday season?

Give Yourself Permission

I’ve been traveling and taking on new work projects this month, which means something has had to give. And that something, unfortunately, is something I love: writing.

I’ve been considering writing this post for some time now, but it’s hard to write about this topic when I know I’m a big offender of not giving myself the permission I need to do things I enjoy.

What do I mean by giving yourself permission?

Things to give yourself permission for

I mean allowing yourself to do something positive when you might normally say no. I’m not saying it has to be something big or life-changing. Here are some things I like to (and need to) give myself permission to do:

  • Sit and read
  • Drink a cup of coffee (not while working)
  • Pick up my favorite foods at the grocery store
  • Take a walk without my phone
  • Invest in a high quality item (like a purse) that will be a suitable replacement for several items I own
  • Read someone else’s blog and leave them a comment
  • Spend time with my rabbits
  • Take a nap
  • Go out for coffee
  • Pausing work to write a blog post

Ultimately, it’s about allowing myself to stop being caught up in housework and regular work to enjoy my day a little bit more.

It’s about being nice enough to yourself to take opportunities when they are available.

Be childish

When I was a kid, I had to ask for permission to have a Mountain Dew (which, looking back, was probably not a good idea to begin with). I had to ask permission to go to friends’ houses for the night.

I was so excited, as I’m sure most of you were, to become an adult and be able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.

But then came the responsibilities and the stress. Self-denial came along too.

I find myself denying a cup of coffee when I really want to sit, sip and relax. I deny myself short walks outside because there’s work to be done.

I realized that my “childish” desires (to write, to play with my rabbits, to indulge in a tasty beverage) are still there. They’re just waiting for permission to happen – my permission.

Take a moment to consider what you find difficult to give yourself permission to do. Is it something that would be positive and fulfilling? Is it healthy? Then say yes.

Permission

So say yes

Once you’ve evaluated what it is that you’d really like to be doing, learn to say yes.

I know this comes as common sense to some people, but the more tightly-wound will understand what I mean. It’s so hard to break away from housework, real work and other obligations even when the alternative is a positive one.

Say yes to peeling your eyes off of this computer screen and stepping outside for a moment. Say yes to cooking something amazing. Say yes to writing that blog post you’ve been meaning to write.

Say yes to being self-compassionate. This TEDx talk explores self-compassion and self-esteem and has helped me realized I need to be kind to myself and say yes more often:

…and sometimes say no

There’s so much about minimalism and simple living that is about saying no to things. Say no to excess, say no to clutter, say no to the advertised “norm.”

So what do you say no to and what do you say yes to? I’ve started setting some goals and building principles for myself to help me choose the right balance between the two.

Some questions to consider when building your guiding principles:

  • What do I want most for myself?
  • What do I want most for my home and possessions?
  • What do I want most for my loved ones?

If saying yes takes you closer to that goal, then say yes. If saying no takes you closer to the goal, then say no. Always do what moves you closer to your goals.

Sometimes, that means taking a break and drinking coffee while reading a book you can get lost in.

I’m still working it all out. But one thing’s for sure – this blog has helped me to hone in on what makes me feel most alive. It’s helped me to say yes a little more often. As I write this, I’m sipping tea in a cafe, which took a lot of permission for me to get out of the house and stop working for a while.

What do you find difficult to say no to? What should you start saying yes to more often?