Semester check-in: how are you really?

Elyssa Favis - March 8th 2021 - 3 min read

Hello, Brilliant Minds!

The semester is picking up, and with more due dates on our schedules than ever, emotional awareness is imperative to cope with the demands of everyday life. How much (or little) attention do you pay to your emotions in stressful situations? How often do you check in with yourself on a normal day? Depending on the stresses you’re facing, the emotions you’re experiencing, and your ability to cope with stress, you might find it beneficial to tune in to how you’re feeling more than once in a day. The beauty of emotional awareness is that there are so many ways to ‘check-in’ with yourself. No matter how much (or little) time you have, there’s bound to be a practice you can integrate right into your busy schedule. You can check in with yourself by:

+ Identifying triggers and internal cues. Knowing the kinds of situations that give rise to certain emotions gives you an opportunity to check in with yourself before experiencing stress. Identifying internal cues are similar to noting the types of environments that bring about stress. Internal cues are bodily sensations experienced in numerous situations, such as when you are hungry, thirsty, or stressed out. Noticing these internal cues gives you insight into what you may need, such as food or water, but also includes signs that you need time to relax and take deep breaths.

+ Being honest with your emotions. It’s necessary to be honest with yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. How are you really feeling? Is this situation bringing out more negative emotions than positive emotions? Being honest about how you feel gives you the opportunity to turn your thoughts into actions that positively impact your life or mood.

+ Focusing on your breath. Deep breathing is discussed quite often when we think about relaxation, but how does it help us check in with ourselves? Taking deep breaths from the diaphragm (compared to breathing from your chest, as we do when we’re anxious) grounds yourself in your body. Our bodies hold onto stress and trauma, and while it’s important to listen to our minds, pay attention to how your body holds negative emotions. Diaphragmatic breathing slows your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, allowing you to relax and lower the effects of cortisol, a major stress hormone.

+ Asking yourself questions. Not sure where to begin when checking in with yourself? Asking yourself thought-provoking questions to get down to the bottom of your feelings can guide you through your journey of emotional awareness.

Questions for Physical and Emotional Needs:

- How am I feeling today?

- What do I need at the moment?

- What is taking up my headspace right now?

- Do I feel safe, physically and emotionally?

- How do I feel about myself?

Questions for Self-Care:

- How can I show myself love?

- When was the last time I felt happy?

- What can I forgive myself for?

- What am I doing today to feel good?

- What is going well?

Questions for Routine:

- When was my last meal?

- Did I engage in physical exercise today?

- Have my eating or sleeping habits changed?

- How much sleep did I get last night?

- Did I do something I enjoy today?

Questions to Identify Problems:

- Am I holding onto anything that no longer serves me?

- Is anything getting in the way of my well-being?

- What can I do about the things that do not benefit me?

- Are my actions reflecting my values?

- What happened to make me feel a specific way?

Once you check in with yourself, the food you eat, the activities you engage in, and the way you handle yourself is up to you. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to check in. Something that works for one person might not work for another, so it’s always best to do what makes you feel comfortable. Most importantly, if you’re unable to cope with these feelings and issues, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Many resources exist in and out of the school setting to help you work through these ever-changing times.

Take care always, Brilliant Minds! All the best in your academic journey.