Managing Emotions: tips & tricks for keeping an emotional check-in journal

I designed this journal—it’s a research-based way to increase your happiness, gratitude & goal achievement

I designed this journal—it’s a research-based way to increase your happiness, gratitude & goal achievement

Emotions: happy, sad, angry…the list is endless. We often categorize our emotions as “good” or “bad”—but I like to instead classify my emotions by “comfortable” and “uncomfortable” because that allows me to be in control of growing. For example: I used to think feeling angry was a bad emotion, so I often didn’t let myself become angry (aside from the eye-rolling during rush hour traffic)…but over time, I realized that I’m actually just uncomfortable being angry (probably because I’m a woman who grew up in a society that doesn’t endorse women exercising our right to express anger).

I spend 10-20 minutes every night before going to sleep journaling. I’m a pretty big journal nerd, so I keep two separate journals: one is focused on writing every single day my mantra (I am strong, lovable, capable and worthy), three affirmations, five gratitudes, three goals for the next day, four check boxes (read, workout, journal and draw), an emotional check-in, and the highlight of my day…and the other journal is just a blank journal for writing about my day.

The emotional check-in means that I write down how my mind, body, heart and soul are doing in that moment. I approach this without judgement or creating a story (ie NOT: “My head hurts…I must be dehydrated…ugh I suck at hydrating” but instead: “My head is pounding”). Here’s an example of daily emotional check-in:


Mind: in the past, busy, hamster-wheel

Body: Sore lower back, heavy shoulders, strong legs

Heart: Connected, happy, joyful, sad, anxious, content

Soul: connected to adjustments

A few things to note:

  • Contradictions: we’re complex humans and we’re capable of feeling more than one emotion at a time (think bittersweet). I’m surprised when I’m journaling about my heart how it’s never straightforward—there’s always a lot of emotions that come up.

  • No minimizers: I encourage people to say, “I feel _____ (emotion)” without adding “sorta” or “a little bit” or other minimizers. Read the following: “I feel angry” versus “I feel a little bit angry”—the power is totally different. Often, we minimize our “negative” (ie: uncomfortable) emotions instead of letting them take up equal space as our “positive” (ie: comfortable) emotions…you hardly hear someone say, “I’m a little bit happy”

  • Soul check-in: people often roll their eyes when I tell them about a soul check-in, but I like to think of a soul check-in as what I felt most connected with throughout that entire day…whether it was a person, a place, an emotion, a sensation, or something larger (ie: the wind, feeling lost, etc.)

  • Take a deep breathe: I stop, pause and take a deeeeeeeep breath before I write down anything because I actually want to spend time sitting with my mind, body, heart and soul instead of rushing to get something down on paper. I always encourage people to sit down with intentional time in a space that nourishes them when they’re journaling—it’ll start to create a practice that you’re excited for instead of something that feels like drudgery.

Leave a comment below to let others know how you manage your emotions!