Checking In or Checking Out

Here’s the thing, all of us feel exhausted sometimes.  All of us experience feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, loneliness and boredom.  So here is the question, when those things arise what do you do with them?  Do you check in or do you check out? 

Do you engage in activities that will allow you to feel and move through those feelings, or do you engage in things that allow you to mask and numb them?  No judgment here, just a real question that I ask myself all the time!

Personally, I have found myself numbing out on way to many occasions.  Over the years, as I have become more aware of the effects of numbing on my body, mind and spirit, I have chosen to check in more often.  Here are a few examples. 

Some days I feel cranky and/or sad. We all do.  For a while I was noticing that when those feelings came up I would check out on social media…like a lot! It was a way to numb those feelings.  What I saw was it was actually making it way worse and it was making it last a lot longer.  Feelings come and go.  By checking out I was not acknowledging them or letting them in and so they just kept knocking on the door over, and over, and so I found myself scrolling down the Facebook feed over and over.  So what does checking in look like for me?  I practice self-awareness and notice what is going on inside.  Most of the time I don’t question the trigger or the whys behind it. I just notice the feeling and the urge to check out.  I then go to my bathroom to take some breaths and let it be. Sometimes that is not enough and I have to write, cry or simply sit.  What I have noticed is that I am then able to return to my work, the kids or whatever I am doing and be present again.  I don’t need to check out…I need to check in. 

We all could use some work honoring our feelings and giving ourselves permission to feel them and be with them. They will pass.  I have found that when I put my effort and intention on checking in as part of my daily morning routine, I have so much more energy. And when I recognize I don't have energy, I am able to address it to create more.  I also have found that I am more emotionally up.  When I fall into the traps of checking out and numbing I am much more snappy, grumpy, down and have way less energy. Are you convinced yet? How about this example? 

On days that I stay home with my kiddos, about mid way through the day I put the littles down for their rest time.  So what do I do with this time?  It has evolved over the course of a decade of rest times.  A decade ago, I would use the time to get some housework done and maybe even start dinner so that I could play with my  two kiddos all afternoon. I got a lot done but I felt exhausted all afternoon and I counted down the minutes until bedtime.  So scratch that! So rest time became a time when I could catch up on work that I hadn’t gotten to…and as a self-employed, work from home mom there is ALWAYS work I can be doing.  Again this left me feeling tired and grumpy and often wanting to do more work.  Then I had an idea to reclaim that time for myself. So what did I choose to do?  I checked out Facebook for 30 minutes, surfed the web or watched a show.  Now, how in the world is that ever going to help me have more energy or feel rested?  I don’t know about you but being on the Internet or watching t.v. rarely helps me feel rested.  Which is all well and good but that isn’t really what my goal for rest time was.  So fast-forward to doing something where I check in and serve myself and you will find me writing, stretching, taking a walk (don’t worry the littles aren’t home alone, the homeschooled older kiddo is around), or even taking a nap.  After one of those rest times I feel ready for the rest of the day.  I have energy and excitement to carry me through the witching hour!  This simple shift has helped me thrive in the afternoons, rather than become a snappy mama who counts down the hours until bed time (well most days).  

Here is what I know.  I am not alone in my urge to check out, I noticed people doing it all around me all the time!  There is a lot of really intense, sometimes traumatic issues in our world and in our personal lives;  and it is one response to check out and numb.  It is something that is increasingly easy to do in our gadget filled world.  Here is my disclaimer I build a business online.  I am not saying technology is bad or that I always practice what I preach.  I am on this human journey with you.   

Here is something that you may want to try:

  1. Simply become aware of your habits around checking out.  Write them down for a week if you need to. 

  2. Then decide to take some action in small ways and in areas that you want to create a shift.  What do you want for your day, your energy levels, your moods?  What steps do you take to check in?  These you may need to try out and see what works for you.  Here are some ideas: Take a nap, go outside and feel the Earth on your feet, write in a journal,  color, meditate, pray, create a retreat space in your house.

  3. Start.  Not tomorrow or next month but today!  When you notice you are back on an old habit pattern that doesn’t work get back on that proverbial horse.

 Give yourself gentle nudges to create more presence in your life so that you show up more each day.  As someone who is on this journey I can say that it isn’t always easy!  Especially those really hard days or emotions but the work creates so much more life, happiness and connection!