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10 simple steps to feel more connected with yourself and process overwhelming emotions

1. Find a good time to check in with yourself

Keep this accessible and feasible - it doesn’t have to be a lot of time. You know yourself best.

What time of day do you feel most motivated to do this, does it fit best within your schedule, or would be most helpful to you?

2. Loosely structure your check-in time

If you already have something you like to do to connect with yourself and the present moment, you can do that during this time. If you'd like some ideas, here are some practices and resources for these check-in times:

  • Journaling. It doesn’t have to be long - a check-in of a few words describing how you’re doing or what you’re experiencing in that moment is a great start.

  • Meditation. You can use InsightTimer for thousands of free meditations, soundscapes, and singing bowls

  • Go outside and connect with Mother Nature. Even if you live in a city, just going outside and breathing fresh air can be very rejuvenating.

  • Move your body however feels best. This can include yoga, dancing, taking a walk, or more intense exercise that gets your heart rate up.

3. Ask yourself "How do I feel?" and "What do I need?"

Engaging in one of the above activities to help you feel more connected with yourself can help you check-in with how you are feeling in that moment.

When there is a lot going on it can be easy to simply go through the motions and not ask ourselves how we are doing from one moment to the next.

Based on how you are feeling at that moment, you can ask yourself,

"What is everything I am feeling in this very moment?"

If a lot of answers come up and it feels overwhelming, focus on the most highly charged feeling.

“Based on what I'm experiencing, what do I need right now/today/this week to feel supported?”

If no clear answer arises, that’s okay. Sometimes we don't know the answer right away - this doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

It can be helpful to check in with specific aspects of ourselves. You can ask:

  • What do I need physically right now?

  • What do I need emotionally right now?

  • What do I need mentally right now?

  • What do I need spiritually right now?

4. Identify patterns

Once you build a more regular practice of intentionally connecting with yourself and asking yourself what you need, the answers may appear more clearly and you might notice patterns emerging.

If you notice the same need over and over (such as I am tired, I need sleep or I am really hungry, I need to eat), this may be indicative of a basic need that is consistently not being met.

5. Identify how to meet your needs

Once you are able to more clearly identify needs you can begin to identify things to do in order to meet those needs.

This can include changing the way you think about something, taking an action that will address the need, or asking for help from someone else (partner, friends, family, mental health professional, coach, etc).

Here are some examples of feelings, needs, and action steps to meet the need:

  • I am feeling overwhelmed with all of the tasks on my to-do list - I need to take a step back and release some of this stress - I am going to take 30 minutes today to do something that helps me unwind

  • I am feeling hurt by a comment my good friend made to me - I need to feel safe and comfortable in that relationship - I will tell her how her comment made me feel because our relationship is important to me

  • I am feeling limited and frustrated by the restrictions imposed on us because of the pandemic - I need to feel free, open, and unrestricted - I can find new activities that help me feel open, alive, free, and unrestricted

  • I feel lonely, isolated, and with very little energy - I need to feel connection, belonging, and comfort - I will reach out to close friends to connect and/or reach out to a mental health professional to talk about these experiences and feel support from others

6. Incorporate mini, consistent check-ins with yourself

Do this throughout your day, when you’re transitioning from one task to another, when interacting with others, or any time you have to take a few minutes out of your day to reflect.

Make it a habit of having this internal dialogue. Approach it as if you were checking in on a dear friend.

7. Set a feasible time period and stick with it

Commit to practicing this inner dialogue for a certain period of time and then check back in with how you’re feeling.

I recommend at least 2-3 weeks, since research shows that habits can begin to form around day 18 of a practice.

This will also give you time for the practice to meet you where you’re at through varying emotional states, circumstances, or motivation levels.

8. Reflect after practicing consistently

After several days or weeks engaging in this practice, notice if it feels like you are more attuned to your emotions and needs.

Some reflection questions might include:

  • How do I talk to myself now compared to when I began this practice?

  • How well was I able to identify my needs then? How well am I able to identify my needs now?

  • Do I notice patterns in what needs emerge for me? You can also group them into physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual and see which group frequently comes up.