Your mindset ultimately is the driver of everything you do, say, and think on a daily basis. Being aware of a few simple, but very important check-in questions is a super grounding and productive way to wind down and reflect inward at the end of the day. To help you out, we have collated four of our favourite check-in questions that you can use to check in on your mind regularly.
Why is checking in with yourself so important to do often?
For most of us, each day is very ‘go, go, go’, not giving us a whole lot of opportunity to actually stop to think about what we are doing, thinking, or saying. Plenty of daily activities such as driving, getting your morning coffee, or taking the kids to school for example can be done on what feels like autopilot. This is where checking in on yourself can really make a difference, helping to bring you back to the present and make you more aware of your surroundings, your feelings, and thoughts.
When you have five minutes to yourself at the end of a long day, no matter what you are doing, this can really help to remember you are human and allows you to understand and prioritise the things that make you happy, productive for your goals and how you can include more of the good stuff in life.
The answers to the below questions can be as simple or extravagant as you like – something great that happened today could be that you walked past a cute puppy, you got to sit in the sun for five minutes or you enjoyed a beautiful walk at your local beach. Practicing mindfulness and gratitude in this simple way is so beneficial to your overall mental health and clarity. A 12 week study was done in the USA which demonstrated that “positive affect journaling (PAJ) intervention was associated with better mental health, including lowering anxiety, mental distress, and perceived stress after only one month of the intervention” in the participants.
So, what are some simple and effective check-in questions that you could either think through or journal for yourself?
1. How would I rate my emotions today from 1 to 5?
Being aware of your emotions each day is so important. Noticing trends in what you rate can be a sign that you are doing pretty good or that you might want to figure out what is getting you down. Sometimes it is obvious, maybe lockdown or a family issue is the reason for your low rating, but sometimes it isn’t as obvious. If you realise you are rating quite low on the scale for a while, it might be an indication to talk to someone to assist in figuring out what might be the cause and coming up with solutions to assist you from there.
2. What are three things I am grateful for today?
Being aware of just three things you are grateful for each day is an amazing way to help you stop and think about the positive, when so often the negative is more likely to be at the forefront of how we think and how we speak to both ourselves and the people around us. Harvard Health Publishing stated that ‘in positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.’
Not only is gratitude important to be aware of in yourself, but is also so crucial to demonstrate to the people around you. The above article went on to explain, ‘Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship. Also, managers who remember to say “thank you” to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder.’
3. What is something really good that happened today?
Celebrating the wins from the day, no matter how big or small, similar to your gratitudes, noticing the good events in the day makes the positive a priority, even if just for a few minutes. So make sure you are aware of and proud of the good things that happen in the day-to-day.
4. What are my top priorities for tomorrow?
At the end of the day, it is very easy to look back on your list of things to do and feel like you didn’t achieve as much as you would’ve liked. That is okay! We are only human and only have 24 hours in a day (and a third of that time should be used for sleeping).
Whether you do it at the end of your day, or first thing in the morning, writing down your top 3 or so tasks whether it be for work, at home, or just running errands that you want to tick off helps to prioritise and clear your mind of these lists. If you make the list too long, this can lead to overwhelm, so start with the top three and go from there to begin your day off on the right foot!
Checking in with yourself by asking these four questions and either thinking about the answer or better yet writing the answers down, can dramatically improve your mental health and wellbeing. Whether it is daily or every few days, it allows you to really keep on top of how you are feeling and can help lead to seeing the positive in each day and improve productivity.