The Importance of Checking in with Yourself
by See Change Ambassador, Linda Garvin
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” Katie Reed
You are important.
The only person that you are in a relationship with for your entire life is you! Don’t you deserve to know, accept and love yourself, not just on the good days but on the bad days too? It has taken me decades to fully appreciate that checking in with, and looking after myself is not selfish. Self-care is the most beautiful gift I have given myself. Being aware of how I am feeling allows me to do as much as I can to prevent a decline in my mental health and enables me to be a better partner, a better friend, a better mother and a better me.
Checking in with myself is something I started doing many years ago after experiencing recurring depressive episodes. I needed to feel that there was something I could do to positively influence my mood and minimize further episodes. Depression has visited me many times since that first time over 25 years ago, but every time, I added something new to my self-care routine.
How do you really feel?
The most important part of checking in with yourself is to be honest. Acknowledging how you really feel is hard and sometimes painful. It takes time and patience. It requires self-compassion and kindness.
I spent a long time denying how I really felt which, by the way, did not make how I was feeling go away. I spent so much energy pretending to be ok that I eventually crashed and burned. Acknowledging how I really felt allowed me to process my emotions and made me realize that I needed help and support. I have learned to check in with how I am feeling without judging or criticizing myself. I have changed the way I speak to myself and no longer label myself as lazy, miserable, boring, hopeless or broken. I remind myself that my illness may recur but is not permanent. Depression is only a temporary part of me and I am so much more than the labels I gave myself and the illness. My struggle is also my strength.
I now take the time to notice how I feel and track my mood every day. I use pen and paper and a numbering system, but there are lots of mood tracker apps available. Doing this over a period of time has allowed me to recognize my ‘warning signs’ such as change in appetite or sleep pattern. Less energy and interest in socializing. More irritable and impatient. When I see these changes, I know that I need to do something to ensure I stay well. Knowing how I feel has helped me to see what and who impacts my mood positively and negatively. I can identify when I am starting to feel overwhelmed and when I need to ask for extra support.
It is worth noting that there are a number of scientifically backed benefits to regularly checking in with yourself.
- Fewer mood swings.
- Decreased depression and anxiety.
- Increased self-esteem.
- Improved sense of wellbeing.
Self-care does not have to take hours every day and does not have to cost a fortune. My self-care includes curling up on the couch with a cozy blanket and a book, having coffee and a chat with a friend, going for a walk with my dog, having a bath, going to the gym, taking a yoga class or having a night away with my partner.
Self-care is deciding that I am important enough to make time for myself to do something I love that makes me feel good and allowing myself to rest when by body tells me I am tired. I now know that I cannot heal what I refuse to feel.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”.
If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following