Very often, our day-to-day life is full of responsibilities and things we “have to” or “should” do. We are slammed at work, and on top of that we have to pick up the dry cleaning, go grocery shopping, prepare dinner, and clean the house. Then our dishwasher breaks, and we have to call someone to fix it or get a new one. The car comes due for a service, and you have to reschedule everything because the car will be there for three days. One of our friends has a birthday, so we need to pick up a present, oh yes, the party is on Friday. And to top it all off, there is a great new series on Netflix, so we should definitely see it as soon as possible. Since we’ve already missed the previous hit, we should probably catch up on that as well.
When we get swamped like this, it’s easy to neglect ourselves, both mentally and physically. These two are not only equally important but also closely interconnected. So, don’t forget to check in with yourself from time to time. It’s not the frequency, but the regularity that counts.
How should you be checking in with yourself? There are many things to consider. However, finding the answer is not always easy or straightforward.
First, check in with your body. How does it feel? Do you feel any aches? Stress and anxiety usually present themselves in our bodies. Sometimes we are not fully aware of it, but our body reflects it to us. That’s why it’s good to know and notice these signs. Notice how you feel in your shoulders, chest, and stomach especially. Are your shoulders relaxed or tense? Do you feel any tightness in your chest? Is your heart beating slow or fast? And what about your breathing – is it calm or quick? Is it shallow or deep? How does your stomach feel? Do you feel bloated or uncomfortable? Ask yourself what your body needs today. Maybe it needs to lay down or go outside for a while, or perhaps it needs more sleep. Or maybe a good stretch, a quick run, or any other exercise you like.
Now, take a moment to check-in with how you feel. How are you today? Are there any feelings you might have overlooked? What are you thinking about right now? What is occupying your mind these days? Is something bothering you? How do you feel about yourself today? What made you feel like that? What would help you to feel better? What can you do to change the way you feel?
Conscious attempts to get in touch with all that’s going on with your mind and body, learning to accept it as it comes, is a good practice of congruency. What is ‘congruency,’ you may ask? Well, it’s actually a quite complex term. Fundamentally, it describes “accurate matching of experience and awareness” (Rogers, 2016, p. 339). It’s being at one with our own feelings and bodily sensations and being able to communicate and act accordingly. The opposite is ‘incongruency.’ That is when the experience and awareness don’t match because we consciously or unconsciously hide behind the façade. We don’t allow our sensations and feelings to flow. And so it’s a source of tension, uncomfortable feelings, feeling stuck, and not being open. Being incongruent prevents us from personal growth because the more congruent one is, the higher is the probability of change occurring. Also, being congruent can improve our relationships with others because we’re more open and genuine. It’s postulated that the state of congruency takes less energy. This energy is then available to be invested in relationships with others. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that being congruent means you can do and say whatever you feel like or want. That’s not the point. Actually, it goes hand in hand with increasing your empathy and positive feelings toward others.
We get it. This could’ve sounded quite overwhelming or like too much to process at first. And that’s why we have developed Poppy, a voice-based virtual persona who helps you with this self-checking and with finding the answers to all the questions mentioned. She can guide you through the process of getting in touch with your feelings and thoughts. Her main mission is to help you learn to pause for a while regularly and notice all the things happening inside your head, systematically record them and then review them. She encourages you to start the journey of self-exploration and establishing your regular self-care routine. Together with Poppy, you can work on your congruence in order to thrive and grow as a person.
Take good care of yourself. Don’t forget to regularly pause and notice how you feel.
Rogers, C. R. (2016). On Becoming a Person. Robinson.