The wellness industry is a 3.4 TRILLION dollar industry. We spend a small fortune on gyms, personal trainers, diets, nutritionists, massages. But when have you invested in your mind?
And what ultimately controls the decisions you make on all the other aspects of your life? Your mind. So investment in your mind can lead to significant developments elsewhere.
The best thing is, all the investment need be is some of your time.
Why do we need to mentally check in?
Our lives are getting increasingly full. We have access to more information, more activities, more opportunities and therefore more choices.
It’s easy to caught up in a cycle of doing and then dealing with the repercussions. By mentally checking in, we can actually identify whether we are happy with what we are doing. We can take stock before rather than after.
We can discover whether we are truly happy. We can work out what is bothering us. We can consider whether our lives filled with what we want them to be.
I used to think my life was fulfilled and happy because I could tick so many boxes - wonderful family, great friends, great job, beautiful holidays, busy social life. I never took the time to sit down and say - how are my relationships with my family and friends? Is this the job I want to do forever? What can I do with my time on holiday? How is my busy social life affecting my body?
By answering questions like this, we get a true insight into ourselves.
It is very easy to avoid mentally checking in with ourselves. I think ultimately we are scared about what we might find. We’re worried that we’ll question our decisions in life. That we’ll uncover some difficult truths.
But isn’t it more scary to think about continuing your life with all this buried beneath the surface? With the potential to jump out at any time.
Do you really want to look back in ten years time and wish you had explored these questions earlier?
Assessing your current state
There are a number of ways of mentally checking in. And these don’t have to be deep and scary.
A simple list of three things you like about your life and three things you don’t is an easy starting point. You can then skip ahead to assessing these.
Some more in depth ways of checking in include:
Drawing a balance wheel
Write down the eight main areas of your life (suggestions below) and mark them out of ten. Be really specific.
Draw a wheel with eight circles, or eight slices of “pie”.
Insert each area into a circle or slice - with the bigger circles or slices identifying those areas which score higher
Set a timer for twenty minutes and grab a pen and paper
Sit down and write about how you see your life - don’t overthink, just write whatever comes into your head
Ideally repeat over three consecutive days, or three times in a week
Sitting and thinking
Find a comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed
Set a timer for at least twenty minutes
Sit and allow your thoughts about your life to come to you
You may want to focus on particular areas or just see what comes up
Areas of life you may want to cover:
Relationship with significant other
Social and fun
Health and wellness
Assessing your findings
Once you’ve completed one of the exercises above, take some time to explore your findings.
This doesn’t need to be immediate. You can do this anytime, anywhere if you’re struggling for time. I find my most fluid thoughts come when I am walking or driving, rather than trying to force them.
Really start to think about why you’ve given the scores you have, or written what you have. Ask yourself all or any of the following questions:
What factors did you consider?
Were there any surprises?
How do your findings make you feel (emotionally and physically)?
Which aspects overlapped with each other?
Where were you content?
What fears came up for you?
Interpreting your reactions
This may bring up some pretty strong emotions. You may be really happy about some aspects of your life. You may think there are some gaping holes in others.
Know that this OK. When you are having strong emotional or physical reactions, this is your body alerting you to a state of unrest. That this is something that doesn’t sit right with you at the moment. It’s a very natural trigger for positive change.
Allow yourself to really feel these emotions or physical reactions and ask yourself why you think you are feeling like this. Drill down into the fact that the initial emotion is unlikely to be the real reaction. Behind it will lie a set of secondary emotions that have fed into that initial emotion. For example, anger is often a sign of frustration, fear or self-doubt.
Christopher Cobb has a great wheel on primary and secondary emotions which you can find here.
Another great tool for exploring emotions further can be found here
Use this as a basis for taking actions and making positive changes in your life. Don’t dwell on the negative and scary, but use these as motivation for change. Change does not have to big, drastic or sudden. Small changes can make a huge difference.
Repeat! I cannot emphasis enough the importance of repeating these exercises regularly. The balance across your life is going to change radically over short and long periods of time.
The more you check in, the more you’ll recognise patterns. You’ll see where things are working well in the long term, but subject to blips. You’ll see where things come up time and time again.
Seek help. If you’re struggling to process what you find, don’t feel like you have to go through this alone. There are so many communities and people out there for you, both professional and personal. These include:
Using your good friends as sounding boards
Joining communities, both real life and online - you can join an amazing community that I am part of here
Working with a coach - you can book a free initial check-in with me
So, take the time. Assess where you are. Explore your feelings. Use these to make positive changes.