Check list - Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

Check-in with yourself: checklist

We’ve developed a checklist to answer the question of how to check in with yourself. Checking in with yourself is a really useful tool to give yourself a ‘once-over’ and to consider the status of your own mental and physical health in a mindful way.

Take me to the checklist

The first stage is to really remove yourself from distractions and give yourself the best possible chance for your check-in to be interruption-free. Allow yourself 15 minutes if you can, possibly longer for the first attempt and then less time for each check-in as you get more practised at the process. Put the phone on silent, turn the computer screen off, and place a do not disturb sign on the door.

The next step is helpful in getting the balance right between completing the check-in process mindfully and acknowledging that your brain sometimes pops up with things that do need to be dealt with. In true GTD style (David Allen’s Getting Things Done), we want to be able to write these thoughts down so that we don’t have to try and remember them.

Find yourself a quiet space where you can sit comfortably for the duration of the process. Just try not to do it laying down or you may find that you relax so much that you fall asleep. However, if you do suffer from insomnia and this does make you fall asleep, then maybe laying down would be a good thing to add to the process for you personally at the end of each day.

Now you need to relax your mind and body so that you can get the most out of this meditation. Close your eyes and control your breathing. Try square breathing where you breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, breathe out for the count of 4 and hold for the count of 4.

Imagine yourself in a full-body scanner now. Starting with the top of your head (or the tips of your toes) think about working your way slowly towards the other end of your body stage by stage – asking yourself at each point, how is this part of the body feeling? Is there any pain or tension here?

If distracting thoughts or nagging to-dos are popping into your mind and distracting you, either tell them to go away and you will think about them after, or if they are persistent then break out of your meditation a second and jot them down on the pad of paper. Then go straight back to it.

Once you’ve reached the end of your body scan, take a moment to find some gratitude in your day. Think of something you can be grateful for such as your health, your family, the weather today, or something else that makes you smile – even if just a little.

Slowly rejoin reality by ‘opening’ your hearing first and listening back to what’s going on in the room or in the world around you. Now gradually open your eyes and refocus on the space around you.

Pick up your pad of paper and look at the list of tensions or thoughts that popped into your mind. Combine this list with your to-do list for the day and this should help you to prioritise the tasks that were weighing you down – even if it was subconsciously.

See how this process affects your day – does it make you calmer or more productive? Does it help you to focus on what needs to be done for your own mental health rather than just what was on your to-do list?

If possible then you may find it useful to go through the same process again at the end of the day and check in with yourself before bed so that you can put your mind to rest and go to sleep knowing that all of your worries are captured on a piece of paper and you can deal with them tomorrow.

Check in with yourself Checklist

  • Allow yourself time to check in with yourself properly with no distractions – around 15 minutes.
  • Grab a pen and paper in case any thoughts pop into your mind and you need to write them down to deal with them later.
  • Sit comfortably (but not so you fall asleep).
  • Slow your mind and your body down by slowing your breathing.
  • Start a full-body scan from your head or toes and work to the other end of your body – check if there is any pain or tension at each part.
  • If you find pain or tension think about where that is coming from. Stop for a second and direct your thoughts and imagine directing your breaths to that point.
  • Focus on your breathing and the body scan so that other thoughts are not popping into your mind and distracting you. Write them down if they do.
  • After the body scan, think of something positive that you can be grateful for.
  • Slowly rejoin the world by listening to the sounds around you and opening your eyes slowly.
  • Check your pad/list for the pain points or tensions that were bothering you.
  • Combine this with your to-do list and prioritise the tasks that were weighing you down.
  • Repeat again at the end of the day to find a sense of calmness before you go to sleep.