The holidays are coming, well at least for those of us who live in a country that celebrates Easter religiously or commercially. And I don’t know about you but boy can I feel I need this break. The last 3 months have been go, go, go and I can seriously feel that I haven’t checked in with me, myself and I for a while. Have you?
Checking in with ourselves periodically is a great habit to get into, even better when you can combine it with a little r and r time off. And if you think about it checking in with yourself once during the seasonal changes not only gives you the opportunity to re:root with yourself, it also gives you sometime to notice the world around you as the seasons pass, rather than being caught up in all the day to day things that keep our noses pinned to the ground. The natural world is our greatest mirror, healer and teacher if we take the opportunity to look and be open to learn. The four times a year seasonal check in is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.
What do I mean by checking in? Quite simply it is taking a brief break to reconnect with yourself, a small pause in the journey of your life to see that all’s well and a recharge before moving on. Checking in with yourself is really important for you. It makes you aware. It gives you a chance to take stock, to heal and to understand. It is the difference between reacting and responding, being the ‘human being’ or being the ‘human doing’.
And it’s easy to do. After all think how often and quickly you check in with your social media and emails on a daily basis. It is just a simple to check in with yourself. Of course in an ideal world we would all check in every day. Some people do and it works wonders for the, The rest of us who aren’t at that stage yet, can choose the 4 times a year version and give ourselves an easy and simple re:boost. Simply by checking in with what I call the three most important roots of self.
- Your Physical health
- Your Mental health
- Your Community health
If you think about it these three roots are the absolute foundation of our lives. Without great physical health we are for want of a better word screwed. Without a balanced mental health we cannot react to our world and enjoy our lives in a productive positive way and without a community of sorts around us we are alone to face everything and honestly who enjoys that.
So here is my recipe for checking in and tending the three most important roots of your life this holiday. It’s a four step process that won’t take you long but the great after effects will be felt for the next three months of the year, until we get to summer and it’s time to check in with ourselves again 🙂
Your physical health
For this you need to center in your body to reconnect to yourself and really feel for what you need. An easy way to do this is to do a Mindfulness body scan. It’s a well known exercise and there are many great guided visualisations on youtube so have a look and find one that works with you. ( I recommend choosing one with the least annoying voice, this makes for a much more effective practise.) In it’s essence a body scan you do just what it says you scan your body. You mentally check in with your physical body and see where it needs to relax and what it needs in a moment of stillness. (Word to the wise if you fall asleep whilst doing this you need sleep, so arrange some sleep time).
There are other ways of listening to your body for example noticing your food cravings. I always get a spring need for spinach and a winter need for fat – my waist line hates this but I feel better for giving my body what it craves when it is screaming at me. You can also research the tension in your body if you choose to (each muscular tension has its psychological correspondent meaning I have been told). The point is check in with your physical machine and if you identify a need then fulfill it however possible so that you physical being has a better time of it.
Your Mental health
Honestly you need to talk to yourself. No really I joke not. All of internal process, emotional fluxes and other transitions can give it you a chance to identify kinks. Of course talking to yourself is known as an ingredient for loony bin diagnosis (can’t think why me myself and I have some fantastic conversations) so the next best thing is write to yourself. Take 20 mins and check in on paper Hey me! How are you? Kinda conversation. Write freely and keep asking yourself questions about your life status internally and externally until you can’t write anymore. Remember to write both the positive and the negative. Then reread it. You will suddenly get a very clear picture of what’s great and what you need to change a bit.
However you are not done. When we check in with our mental picture it can sometimes be bleak especially if you are pre-holiday tired. So for the last 2 minutes write a list of everything you are grateful for and then stick on the fridge door. Gratitude for our blessings is one of the most positive actions we can take in our day!
Your Community health
So I guess I need to clarify. Community used to mean your family and people in your local vicinity. Today our community is these people we choose to have in our circle (the modern term is network however I can never get past the fishing net image of that word so I stick with community which for me has a more balanced feel to it,you could also call this your tribe). Basically your community is the people in your life that means something and are supportive to you. Make a list of all the people who mean something to you and support your life positively. When did you last check in with them and tell them how great you think they are? Maybe you can’t do this with all of them this holiday but take time to touch base with some of them. A phone call, a lunch or a walk in the park with some of your favourite people gives you so much energy and brings you back to being yourself in a way no therapy or mindfulness can. We have after all evolved to be a pack animal.
Connect with nature
Seriously. Get outside. If you are lucky like me and have from thursday until monday go out somewhere in nature or with nature (if it’s the local cemetery go there). Take a walk especially if possible near some trees and join in the Japanese tradition of forest bathing (basically walking and appreciating nature). Nature is beautiful right now with the leaves and flowers blooming take a moment to enjoy it. Why? Well because taking time outside does wonders for both your physical and mental health and if you do this with your community it becomes a great way to connect you all. (Just leave all the phones at home) And if you don’t believe me that it’s so great for you check out the latest research into Japanese forest bathing which states “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments,” (More info here https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/?utm_source=parPS)
Give yourself the energy boost you need and go for a walk this week and allow nature to recharge you.
And after this process just let it be. Don’t worry with it or stress over it. Take time to notice and respond. Most of all have fun checking in with you! Combine your seasonal check in with some serious r and r and wherever possible some me time for absolute maximum effect. Like I said before checking in with ourselves daily is of course the most effective however I find that doing a seasonal check in gives me a wealth of insight and energy which sees me through until the next seasonal change, maintains my strong roots and keeps me aware and grateful of the life I am living a loving.
Have a great week and maybe I will see you in a woods somewhere near me 🙂