Increased self-awareness is something that we can all benefit from. It’s a skill that can improve our mental health and wellbeing, help us understand and regulate our emotions, reduce our stress levels and even improve our relationships.
But what is self-awareness, and how can we improve it? Ultimately, becoming self-aware is about recognising your thoughts, feelings, goals and actions, and understanding how to control and shape them so you can live a fulfilling life.
Anxiety and stress puts us into a state of fight or flight, where the primitive area of our brains forces our bodies to release adrenaline and prepare for imminent danger. The trouble is, stress is a part of daily life and the cause is rarely life-threatening, so this instinctive reaction is misplaced.
Educating yourself on how your brain works and why we can struggle with our mental health is a brilliant first step to becoming more self-aware. Whether you choose to take a course in psychology or read articles and scientific papers around why our brains work the way they do, this can help you feel less alone in feeling overwhelmed, burned out, stressed or anxious.
Mindfulness is a technique that has deep roots in Eastern practices such as Buddhism, where it’s used to help people detach from their thoughts and worries. Often, we get so caught up in day-to-day life that we forget to slow down and appreciate the valuable aspects of our lives. When we fixate on one problem after another, stress can take over and leave us feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
Practising mindfulness takes only a few minutes, but when done repeatedly it becomes an important key to becoming self-aware. Learning to control your breath and be in the present moment helps us to learn how to acknowledge our thoughts, feelings and impulses without being negatively affected by them. When you can recognise, but not necessarily act, on your thoughts, you’ll find you can enjoy a much calmer and more stable emotional state when stress inevitably arises.
Keep a journal
Another great way to become more self-aware is to keep a journal. Writing about your day each evening before bed helps you to debrief and reflect on your mental and emotional state. This process can also help you get a deeper, longer sleep and will enable you to wake feeling refreshed and free from yesterday’s worries.
Sometimes when we keep a worry in our minds, it can feel exaggerated and keep us in a state of anxiety. By writing down your priorities, problems and concerns, you gain a clearer perspective and are better able to manage them going forward. Journaling can also help to boost our mood, memory and cognitive functioning.
Self-awareness is key for positive mental health
With all of the benefits to becoming self-aware, it’s clear that this is something we should all strive for. By taking the time to prioritise self-care and slow your mind, you’ll be able to achieve your goals faster and improve your overall wellbeing in the process. However you choose to do so, increasing your self-awareness is key for improved mental health.