Checking in with yourself – some strategies

September 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

This post is going to be about something that weighs heavily on most of us: self-awareness. It’s no secret that we spend most of our days (heck, even years) on auto-pilot, mindlessly doing chores, running from one task to another, from one person to the next with intermezzos of complete exhaustion.

Lack of self-awareness is the cause for most excess in our lives: excess eating, drinking, shopping – you name it. But whatever it is, excess ‘anything’ leads to a complete void and leaves you feeling numb and depleted of energy. I too am prone to multi-tasking and wanting to get things done pronto, but often the end result can lack content, quality or meaning.

A few strategies that I have succesfully started to implement:

1. Mental and physical scan – I have recently started to check in with myself and rate my mental vitality and physical stamina on a scale from 1 to 10. The mere fact of being aware of how my body is feeling, how my mind is feeling is amazing. Think about your heart and how it is beating second by second. Are you frowning right now? Could you find a reason to smile, maybe?  Try to map your internal organs and the amazing factory inside of you and be thankful it is working. Know that you are in a safe place, always.

2. Breathing – throughout the day I find that my breathing can be short and rushed. I make a conscious effort to breathe deeeeeply and calm myself down. One tip that helps with anxiety is to put things in perspective and realize that most situations are not threatening or urgent and nothing bad is going to happen. And if it does, you will handle it.

3. Spending time by yourself  – this one is a work in progress for me. When was the last time you enjoyed a meal by yourself or allowed yourself to simply sit in silence? This is important because when we are our own companion we can allow our emotions to surface. This in itself is a big accomplishment, but solitude is also a way of dealing with our anger, frustrations and so on in a healthy manner.

4. Doing one thing at a time and giving it your all – I admit this is increasingly difficult. But not impossible. In order to make this a habit we need to block ourselves against any distractions and focus solely on whatever is in front of us. It is incredibly rewarding to really be listening to the other person in the conference call, really be with your loved one, really share a moment with a friend. These experiences are rich and intense, but this is what we are after.

5. Physical activity – our body sustains us minute by minute, day by day, so it is a good idea to actively engage with it on a regular basis. And what better way to do that than sports? When you are exercising it is almost impossible not to check in with your body. When you are running you will notice how your legs feel, you will notice your breath and try to regulate it, you will work to push yourself harder. I love physical activity of any kind and try to make it playful any time I can.

LE: The other day I was on two very long conference calls. In total I spent 2.5 hours tied to my desk, eyes fixed on my laptop. That makes it very hard for anyone to focus. My advice: always have a suply of water and some fruit handy. And try very hard not to read your email and get distracted… if you can 🙂

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