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“Check in” vs. “Check out”

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In a previous post, I wrote about how my counselor has talked to me about working towards engaging in “check in” activities instead of “check out” ones. Several people expressed interest in hearing more about that, so here we go!

Our society these days is full of check out activities. We spend SO MUCH TIME checking out. Anything involving a screen is going to tend towards checking out, and so many of us are glued to our screens. We use our phones for news, entertainment, health tracking, work, image editing, connecting with friends and family, surfing the net, checking email, checking the weather, etc. It seems like whatever you want to do, there’s an app for that.

And it’s not just our phones. TV has become absolutely central to our culture. We have cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime TV, Britbox, etc. And those are just a few of the major ones. My family alone has Netflix, Amazon, and Britbox subscriptions. We eat probably the vast majority of our meals in our living room in front of the TV.

It is so easy to check out. It’s so easy to just sit in front of the TV and allow the entertainment to wash over you. It’s so easy to scroll Facebook for hours. Or mindlessly play games on your phone. And it’s pretty difficult to break the habit once you’ve made it.

When we check out, we don’t just check out from the stresses of life, which is the whole point of checking out. We also check out from engaging with those around us. My phone addiction is probably one of Jesse’s biggest pet peeves because when I’m on my phone, I literally don’t hear him or the girls when they’re trying to get my attention. I cannot tell you the number of spats that have resulted from me being sucked into phone world. (Unfortunately, the same thing is true for reading, especially novels. We check out when we read, which suuuuuucks because I love books.)

Here’s the thing, though. Checking out, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. The extent to which we’re doing it is what is problematic. There are also some check out activities that are “better” for you than others – for example, reading will always be better than phone games. Watching movies with others is better than flipping through the channels on the TV. Checking out really can be a stress release, especially when we’ve been engaging in an activity that really required our brains to work hard (or we’ve spent the entire day chasing our screaming children who refused to be happy no matter what we do. But that’s never happened to any of us).

But it’s more important to check in. It’s more important to engage the mind – to do something creative, something that fosters relationships, something that moves your body. Checking in activities will reenergize you, whereas checking out tends to sap your energy. Vegging in front of the TV will leave you feeling like you need to fall into bed. Spending time doing an art project or brain puzzles leaves you with more energy.

So what are check in activities? Here’s a broad, and totally not inclusive, list:

  • Meditation
  • Knitting, crocheting, sewing, etc.
  • Puzzles
  • Card games with others
  • Coloring, origami, art projects in general
  • Yoga
  • Weight lifting
  • Running, especially outside
  • Group exercise classes or group sports activities
  • Participation in music groups like choirs, bands, orchestras, etc.
  • Small groups – religious or otherwise
  • Getting together with friends – yay coffee dates!
  • Learning any sort of new skill
  • Gardening and other outside work
  • Going walking outside
  • Going on a drive with others
  • Volunteering
  • Basically anything new that engages your brain

Some folks are so good at checking in. The vast majority of their hobbies are check in activities; that’s just how they spend their time. I’m not one of those folks. My inclinations are to play on my phone, to watch TV, to play video games, to read all the books. I have to really force myself to engage in more check in activities. It’s such an essential part of self care.

When I was researching a bit more on this subject, I found this awesome list. It has tons of activities for self care that are, mostly, check in activities. I think I’d like to make a quarterly bucket list of sorts that is my “check in list.” Activities I’d like to do to help ensure that I’m engaging my brain, my spirit, my body, my heart.

What sorts of check in activities are you all into? Do you have trouble with wanting to automatically engage in check out activities like I do? What’s something new you’d like to try? Tell me in the comments!

6 thoughts on ““Check in” vs. “Check out”

  1. As I’m reading this my daughters are destroying the toy room but hopefully not each other!


    1. Ha. I feel you! This morning, I cleaned the whole kitchen while my younger one traipsed up and down the stairs carrying shoes and crayons. 😆


      1. I need to work on not being so addicted to my phone, but I’m home alone a lot with my little girls, so it feels like my only outlet into the world!


      2. Yes! This is my problem too. I’ve been really working to get together with other mom friends so that I get socialization in person. And my kids do too!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this! I also like the self care list. Definitely going to keep that.


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