01/10/20 BLOG 17: CHECKING IN WITH OURSELVES
Hi everyone, how are you all doing? With the rule of 6 coming into Scotland, as well as the talk of a second wave, everything feels a bit one step forward, 2 steps somewhere completely rubbish at the moment. I think so many of us felt like things were starting to change and move, but now uncertainty, rules and anxiety have come back with a distinct thump. Lots of us are feeling lost, confused and a bit hopeless in the light of the continuing pandemic – so if you are also feeling this way, please know you are not alone. There is a list of organisations you can speak to at the end of this blog and there may even be something in here that you might find helpful.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like something I need right now is to somehow find the time and space to check in with myself and figure out what I’m thinking, feeling and needing to get me through this next chunk of time. This week on the blog, I thought I would share some ideas around how to do that in case other folks are feeling the same way. If you can find a moment, let’s take some time to think about what we can do to offer ourselves some comfort, grounding and a modicum of control amidst a time of unrest and unease. Checking in can be a quick 5-minute process where we acknowledge ourselves and the importance of how we are feeling right now. Or it can be something we take a bit more time over. Either way, you and your feelings are important and deserve attention and acknowledgment.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Let’s start by taking a really, big, massive deep breath. Sit somewhere comfortable and then breathe in the biggest breath you’ve done all day, filling up your lungs and then letting it go. Do that a couple more times. If you need help with breathing, try focusing on this video. Notice the breath going into your nose – how does it feel? Can you hear it? Keep taking those deep breaths, in and out. Don’t worry if you need to wriggle around or if thoughts come into your head, try and return to thinking about your breathing. Now start moving that awareness to the rest of your body. Are you feeling tense anywhere? What does that feel like? Can you release any of that tension? Keep breathing those big, deep breaths. Think about your jaw – that can be a good place to start. Let your teeth come apart if they are clenched, feel your jaw gently slacken and let your mouth open. Feel the jaw start to slowly release some of the tension it’s holding there, imagine it melting away every time you breath out. You can now repeat this process with other parts of your body, moving from the face down to the toes. Pause on places that feel particularly tense and take longer to imagine them gently releasing as you let that big breath go. Close your eyes if that’s helpful, keep them open if you would prefer. Keep breathing and expanding your lungs. Gradually open your eyes and come back into the room once you have worked through the areas you want to focus on.
Now that we’ve briefly checked in with our bodies, we can start to notice and ask how do our bodies feel? Is there something our body needs? Often when I check in with myself this way I notice that I am holding a lot of tension (and sometimes pain that I try to push away!) particularly in my shoulders and neck and realise I am long overdue a stretch or moving my body in some way. (and sometimes I notice that I’ve been sat so long at the computer that I’m in great need of food!) Even a 5-minute stretch or quick walk round the block can help some of the more minor things. Other body issues or conditions will obviously require more ongoing attention, but for the purpose of a “check in” is there anything you can do to pay attention to your body and movement that would take a short amount of time? Here are a few ideas to help –
Asking yourself how actually am I?
Now that we have paid some attention to our bodies, we can take a bit of time checking in with how we are feeling. Emotional check-ins are something that aren’t always easy to, especially as we are living in the middle of an actual global pandemic. But sometimes, allowing ourselves to name and feel all the feelings - while it can take us all some time to recognise them - can give us a bit of power over how we’re feeling, as well as help to identify things that might help with them.
We all have different ways of checking in with our emotions – here are a few ways that might help:
If this process is making you feel overwhelmed and is too much for you then don’t feel you have to continue it. It may be that you alone can’t meet that need – try to reach out to someone if you feel able to, seek connection and a safe space for you to share how you’re feeling. This could be from a friend or loved one, or from a community group – in person or online, or a trusted professional – there’s a list at the end of this blog.
After taking time to pay attention how we are feeling, it’s important to honour those feelings. That might mean nothing more than acknowledging their existence – you may not have the time or capacity to delve into anything more at the moment. This also might be something that leaves you feeling overwhelmed. If that’s the case, just know that when you feel ready to explore more, there are people who can help you with this (see list below), as well as tools you can use yourself to help understand and process what’s going on for you right now. Grounding exercises can be useful when the world feels like it’s running away from us. Here’s a list of 30 easy quick exercises to help if this exercise has triggered feelings for you that are overwhelming.
Here are a few other suggestions for how to honour those big feels once we have acknowledged them:
Here at CLiCK we can offer emotional support, as well as a referral to counselling via the Encompass Fund and support and advocacy to tie in with local mental health services. We offer confidential webchat sessions :
MONDAY: 11AM-1PM & 4PM-6PM
TUESDAY: 11AM-1PM & 4PM-6PM
THURSDAY: 11AM-1PM & 3PM-7PM
And Our helpline on 0300 124 5564 is open:
You can contact Samaritans via phone on 116 123, email them at email@example.com or write them a letter
Breathing Space is a confidential phoneline for anyone in Scotland over the age of 16, feeling low, anxious or depressed. Their number is 0800 83 85 87 and they are open -
Weekdays: Monday-Thursday 6pm to 2am
Weekend: Friday 6pm-Monday 6am
Umbrella Lane who are a peer led sex worker organisation have linked with Wellbeing Scotland to provide counselling sessions
You can also speak to your local GP if you feel comfortable to see what options there are for mental health support for you locally
I’m ending with a photo of the best cinnamon bun I have ever tasted that I recently got for myself as a treat when I realised I felt sad. It made me feel a lot better for a brief moment (although now all I can think about are those cinnamon buns…!)
We would love to hear how you are all doing at the moment. What’s has been helping you? Do you have your own version of a check in you would like to share as part of Together Alone? You can contact me via our contact form or firstname.lastname@example.org Looking forward to hearing from you.