If you’re finding things hard, be sure to check in with yourself

Today, I went on another walk.  The monotony of going for another walk really hit me.  I had a desire for something different to happen.  As I passed the lake, I bumped into a friend and we decided to walk it together.  Yipee for something different!  

Nearly a year into the pandemic, I’m in a rhythm that has been honed over a year of trying and testing.  For my mental health, I have to avoid the sense of monotony, something that has been tricky this year.  I also have to be careful of putting myself into a situation where there is a regimented structure to my day.  To get around these, I have a few questions I check-in with.  They help me have a sense of flow to my day.

Before I share these, I want to acknowledge that I know I have privilege.  I have food, security and shelter.  I have no underlying health conditions and I am not a front-line worker.  Being able to ask myself these questions is a privilege, being aware of one’s privilege is important.  It’s not something to feel shame about, but it is important to acknowledge where we have it, life is not a level playing field.

Now for the questions.

1:  Who can I check-in with today?

Every day, I call, text, or email a friend or relative.  Last week, I had the energy to ring someone every day.  The week before, it was a text.  The act of connection, for me, has given me a lifeline to a world outside of my bubble.  I try to extend a friendly hello to people who serve me and I am intentional in making eye contact, with those I do physically meet.  After a year of zoom calls and little real eye contact, this is important for me.

 

2:  Hail, rain, or shine, what’s my plan to get outside today?

Fresh-air, nature, tuning into the sounds of my surroundings.  We may not all live near the ocean or a wooded area but coming outside and taking in the world around you, can help ground you.  Spring has arrived and last week, I saw blossom on a tree, the pink buds are a sign of hope.

3:  How am I moving my body today?

If you have the privilege of physical mobility, how will you move it today?

Can you take ten minutes to walk, do some jumping jacks or a few stretches.  Moving your body takes you out of your head, it grounds you and energises you.  Turn up your favourite music and shake it all out.  Shaking is so cathartic and doing it can help get your prana (life-energy) moving.

4:  Where can I find a moment of joy today?

This can be some food or beverage.  Listening to a song you know will remind you of something good.  Dance around your bedroom if you want.  Make an intention to find one thing a day that will give you a moment of joy.  Build upon this, find more moments of joy.  Laugh, cry if you need to, sometimes that’s the kindest thing you can do – release what is being held in.

5:  Right now, what can I control? 

The world can feel chaotic and overwhelming.  It is easy for the mind to freefall into panic when we focus on things we cannot control.  Take your hand, and name five things you can control.  Push yourself to find five and more usually follow.  Here are a few ideas to help you.

  • My breath
    • I control whether I breathe deep or shallow
  • How I talk to myself
    • Our inner monologue is here to stay so start letting it tell you some nice things about yourself. It might surprise you how negative your self-talk can be.
  • How I talk to others
  • My gratitude
    • The simple act of counting your blessings can benefit how you feel and interact with people.
  • How much news I listen to and consume
  • Who I vote for
  • My actions – how do I respond to a situation?

 

This list helps me find meaning and keeps me grounded.  They serve me when I feel panicked or disconnected.  I just ask myself these questions.  I don’t stress about finding answers.  The act of asking questions helps me think outside the box, get out of my head.  Your needs might be different, and if you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear what it is.

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