Checking out is incredibly easy. We do it all the time, and hell, why not? Life is hard enough without giving ourselves down-time. We need – we DESERVE – to have a break. That truth is probably gonna make today’s topic a hard pill to swallow, but here it is anyway. If we want to give ourselves a true break, we gotta check IN. And to do that, we have to re-frame those ideas of what it means to care for our well-being and protect our time. So let’s talk about what that might mean, wanna? Because you deserve the good shit, dammit.
Check IN: Your Free Time
When you’ve done all the things you have to do for the day – or even if you haven’t, but find yourself with a few spare minutes – what is your first go-to? Do you grab your phone? Go for a smoke? Hit the bathroom? ALL THREE, in some kind of impressive display of multi-tasking?
I’m a phone grabber. And I’m also a defensive justifier of that phone grab. As a social media manager, I use my phone a LOT for work. I’m also a food therapist and coach as a secondary hustle, so it’s easy to say that I’m checking in with my group, or with a client.
But let’s be very clear – more times than not, I’m scrolling assorted feeds. Whether it’s Instagram to see what my “competition” is doing, or TikTok to get ideas for my own content, or reading messages from people telling me that the algorithm has changed again/I’m doing it wrong/this is what everyone else is doing, I have been logging a lot of hours per DAY comparing myself to a lot of people. I don’t even know most of them. And in the meantime, my family is starting to associate me with someone whose head is perpetually bent over their phone, looking at other people’s lives while theirs is passing them by.
Scrolling feeds somehow means I miss a lot of text messages, don’t think to reach out to people I actually know, realize too late I have let another day go by without calling my parents. I don’t spend my free time checking in with the people who love me, but most of all, I don’t check in with myself. It’s so easy to justify self-care with doing whatever you want with your free time. But, as I have mentioned before, finding peace in our journey requires looking within – and casting an honest but loving eye on our own realities.
Sometimes, our bodies shift into auto-pilot to protect us from trauma. This can happen with physical injury or after cases of trauma in any form. Often, this is a good thing. But sometimes, habitual behavior can masquerade as self-protection. We can bury ourselves in any number of things, and that’s normal. Hobbies are amazing. Projects are healthy. Deadlines are real.
The distinction is being present. Are you doing something that makes you feel alive? That keeps you grounded in the now? Do you feel absolutely and wholly in the moment (as much as any of us truly can)?
Or are you acting in a manner that serves in a more self-defeating fashion? Are the opinions and thoughts of others in your mind? Are you spending time trying to mimic people? Trying to do things or live your life in a way that, deep down, doesn’t feel true to who you are? Are you suppressing yourself to fit into a mold of what you think others want to see? How many questions can I ask in one paragraph?
But you get where I’m going here. Are you spending hours engaging in any behavior that takes you out of the world and into a glazed-over potato version of yourself while life passes you by? If you find yourself getting more and more depressed, can you correlate that to your level of presence in the moment? That’s the tipping point. And now, let’s work on how to check in.
Welcome to Your Life
Today, let’s check in. No matter what your day is like, how crazy, how long your work shift, if you have at least five kids actively screaming through the house – let’s make a pledge to ourselves to take five minutes to CHECK IN.
First, make sure you’re not driving or walking or whatever. Close your eyes. Put your hands over your heart. And BREATHE. Breathe deeply, through your nose. Breathe deeply, and focus only on that breath. Thoughts may flood your head and try to convince you to do something else. Don’t let them. Just. Keep. Breathing.
After that, sit with yourself quietly and spend a few minutes remembering who you are and what is important in YOUR story. Maybe you like working in the yard, or taking hikes, or reading actual books. Whatever it is, if it keeps you connected to your life, please make a pledge to yourself that you’re going to do it. Start small, because my mantra is baby steps always. Maybe it’s even 10 minutes.
But try. And then try again.
Remember that we can do all kinds of things we think impossible. So let’s work on this together. And if you already do these things, if you already stay grounded and focused and checked in on what’s important, than HOORAY! That’s amazing, and we love you and are so happy for you!
Regardless of your personal journey, though, make that time for yourself today. Close those eyes. Breathe that beautiful oxygen. And then let’s wake up…and check in.