We put such a huge emphasis on maintaining our physical health through eating well, exercising and forming other healthy habits (flossing anyone?!). But do we place an appropriate value on our emotional and psychological health? This can be a challenging area to navigate, which is why I have put together five steps to performing a Self Check-In as well as quick fixes for common issues that pop up. Use this guide to take stock of where you are emotionally and make adjustments so that you can make informed decisions about how to move forward with living your best life.
Steps to a Self Check In
A Self Check-In requires self trust, courage and curiosity. Before you read any further – ensure you are in a safe environment to really dive deep. Setting aside the time and energy to do a Self Check-In regularly is hugely important to your emotional health, setting you up to work through emotions authentically to maximize personal growth. Acknowledge and respect any emotions that pop up during this process. Use judgement-free awareness to stay curious and open to why they exist.
STEP 1: Assess your nonverbal self-communication
While often subtle, non-verbal communication sends messages to those around you about how you feel about individuals, ideas and situations. Most of us are aware of the impact of nonverbal communication on others, but it’s equally important to recognize the impact your nonverbal communication is having on yourself.
Start by doing a scan of how you hold your body. Do you tend to expand your physical space by spreading out your arms and legs, or minimize physical space by hunching or crossing your legs or arms? Expanding your physical space indicates you hold a sense of personal power while minimizing your physical space suggests feeling powerless. Think about a what a physical expression of pride looks like and you will get this concept! Amy Cuddy is an expert on body language if you want to look into this more.
Now that you have identified the types of signals you are subconsciously sending yourself – identify where you are holding tension with a mental scan of your body. Starting at your head and working your way to your toes, mentally acknowledge each area of your body. Does anywhere feel particularly stiff, sore or tight? Headspace has a great article on Getting the Body Scan Right if you would like more information on this technique.
STEP 2: Scan your physical environment for clues to your feelings
Sometimes we spend so much time looking at the same things that the impact they have on us becomes invisible. Have you stopped seeing that pile of papers on your desk? It might still be causing you stress or anxiety as a physical representation of your overwhelming to-do list.
Begin by doing a scan of your physical environment, identifying any “tolerations”. Tolerations is a coaching term which includes items that you are not dealing with that are zapping your energy. They could include broken items, things to be put away, disorganized spaces, clutter or physical representations of broken promises/commitments. Make a list of any tolerations you encounter. Identify the largest energy drain and put a plan in place to deal with that item once and for all!
STEP 3: Dive deeper with exploration exercises
Everyone learns differently and life coaching is definitely not a one size fits all approach. Below are deeper exploration exercises based on the four types of learners:
- Auditory Learners: Go find a mirror. Stand in front of it. Say out loud what you see. This can include physical attributes but also mention the personal characteristics of the individual in front of you. Are you surprised by what you hear?
- Visual Learners: Complete the Wheel of Life exercise found on the CoActive Website. This was one of the first exercises I did when I was being coached and it has stayed with me. It is very powerful for visual learners.
- Reading/Writing-Based Learners: Embrace the brain dump. Write down everything that is in your head right now. (if you are new to this concept my article on Taking Meaningful Action will walk you through it!) Read your lists back to yourself. Do you notice any patterns or items that cause you physical tension?
- Kinesthetic Learners: Do a twist on the brain dump by writing main elements on flash cards. Group them together however it feels natural to you. Do you notice any patterns or groups you are avoiding? What is common here?
STEP 4: Savour the joy
Identify the positive in your life. What are you most proud of right now? What are you grateful for? While a Self Check-In can be to identify areas to improve upon, it is also important to celebrates the “wins” in your life as they happen. What have you done to get there? Is there a lesson you could apply to any issues that you found through the exercises above? Respect that you work hard, and savour the results.
STEP 5: Put it all together
How are you doing? Putting together everything that you have discovered thus far is a lot to process. Ask yourself who is the person you are becoming as a result of what you have learned today. Are you happy with this person? What changes would you like to make? Read the tips below on quick adjustments you can make to common problems that arise. Often using a journal is helpful to organize your thoughts as you reflect during this step and document this point in time for future reflection.
Fixes you can try right away:
It can be scary to face what you might find during a Self Check-In. Did you discover you are feeling a little less sturdy in life than you thought? Below are four common discoveries – and quick ways to adjust your path.
Feeling powerless and overwhelmed – Adopt a “high-power stance” and hold it for two minutes. Examples include sitting back with feet up on a desk and hands behind head, or adopting the “wonder woman pose” of legs shoulder width apart and hands on hips. Acknowledge that you have survived and have overcome all of the trying and difficult moments in your past. Therefore, you can face whatever is ahead of you.
Being caught in a circle of negative thoughts – Ruminating occurs when you play a scenario over and over again your mind, re-living the emotions that go along with it. This could be a conversation that went badly or a decision you didn’t make. A strong habit will form around this negative thinking, if it continues, and you might feel like you can’t stop thinking about this situation. To break this habit, find a two minute distraction as soon as you start the ruminating habit and engage in the distraction. Do this each time you begin ruminating until the thought pattern changes.
Having low self-esteem – When you are in emotional pain, treat yourself with the same compassion you would expect from a good friend. Similarly, if you find you engage in self-talk that is destructive, try to take on the role of a valued friend. How would you feel if your friend said that to you? What would be helpful for them to stay instead? Stay in this role as long as you need to so you can build a healthy self-talk relationship.
Discovering conflict in your life – if you find there is a particular area of your life that causes tension, examine the conflict that exists. Is there a lesson to be learned here? How can you change this situation into an experiment? Experimenting has a magical way of taking the pressure off quickly.
Conclusion & Advice from a coach
As Elle Sommer (who wrote the blog Reflecting on Life) said “most of us are totally oblivious to the fact that our self-talk is creating the circumstances of our life”. Can you take personal responsibility for where your self-talk has taken you (both positive and negative!)?
Did you uncover something amazing during the exercises above? I would love to hear about it in the comments below! What is one thing you can do next week that will improve your present state? Assign that item/project/goal some time in your schedule. Honour yourself by making the commitment to address this item.
Finish off this exercise by acknowledging your investment in yourself! It takes guts to dive into a discovery session like this – and you are setting yourself up for future success by taking the time and effort to do this now.