5 Daily Ways to Check in with Yourself and Mentally Reset

Long days and frustrations at school or work can often leave us wishing we had a “reset” button in our brains. Whether we’re over-worked, stressed, annoyed, or just tired, a mental reboot is often much-needed, and while we don’t have an actual button for this, taking a few minutes to check in with yourself can go a long way. Here are a few things you can do to metaphorically hit your “reset” button.



1. Affect Labeling

Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Distracted? Anxious? Jittery? Insecure? The act of naming your emotions is called affect labeling, and it’s more powerful than you think. According to a 2007 study in the journal Psychological Science, “Affect labeling disrupts amygdala activity in response to affective stimuli.” That’s a mouthful. In normal-speak, here’s what researchers found: labeling emotions diminished the subjects’ responses to negative emotional images. Psychologists and wellness experts have long held that recognizing and naming our feelings diminishes their hold on us; this study simply provides the concrete evidence in the from neuroimaging—that is, images of brain activity.

Affect labeling reduces the passion and intensity of an emotion, returning us to a more rational state by allowing us to observe it instead of being overcome by it. So notice what you’re feeling. Maybe someone cut you off getting into the subway. Maybe you’re worried about a project. Are you over-caffeinated?Are you irritable because you’re hungry or didn’t sleep enough? Think beyond the basic categories of angry, sad, and happy, and try to label what you’re feeling as specifically as you can. I find this wheel of emotions very helpful:



2. Check in with your needs

When was the last time you ate? Washed your hair? Laughed? How’s your energy level? Last moment of physical contact with another human being? When you’re really deep into a project, an essay, or studying for an exam, it can be easy to forget your most basic needs. If you find yourself getting mentally fatigued, ask yourself if your baseline needs are in check. Maybe you need a walk around the block, a snack to boost glucose in your brain (i.e. fueling your study-power), or just a hug.

3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique is a winner for reducing anxiety and hitting the mental reset button. Using guided mental imagery, you methodically relax each muscle in your body. One of my teachers suggests visualizing a glowing light gliding along inside each part of your body. Follow these steps from The University of Rochester’s Medical Center to reset your mind with progressive muscle relaxation.

4. Come Back to Your Breath

For the duration of our stay here on Earth, the breath is always there. You don’t have to make an effort to breathe; it happens naturally. Take five minutes out of your day— especially if you’re having a tough one—and sit quietly with your breath. Notice your chest rising and falling, your belly expanding and deflating. The air entering your nostrils. Your tongue resting against the backs of your upper teeth. I like to imagine the shore of the ocean: The inhale is the sound of the water sliding back from the sand after each wave breaks, gathering and building up the next wave. The exhale is the wave breaking on the shore. Even just a few minutes of concentrated awareness of your breath will allow you to reset and return to your day refreshed. Try out this 5 minute guided breathing meditation from www.mindful.org.



5. Alone Time

There’s a difference between being alone due to circumstance, like when you’re walking to the subway, and actually scheduling alone time with yourself. It can be hard to get an accurate pulse on your mental state in the company of other people, so it’s highly valuable to spend some time alone every day. It provides a space to notice where your mind really is, and from there you can recenter it. Even the busiest student has ten minutes to tuck into their day for sitting and reflecting, taking a walk, writing in a journal, or engaging in any activity that allows your internal state to become a little clearer.

Use these tips to stay in tune with yourself and hit the mental reset button when you need to!

By Sofia Lerner

Sofia Lerner is a Campus Clipper publishing intern who is studying English as a senior at NYU. Passionate about literature, dance, and wellness, Sofia aspires to help the arts thrive and help others pursue healthy lifestyles. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services. 

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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