There are many things in our world today vying for our attention and stealing our focus. Technology, social media, family responsibilities, work pressure, debt, and medical issues are working their way into our minds and depriving us of being truly self-aware.
I believe that practicing self-awareness is an important skill in stress management. I don’t need to convince you that the need to reduce and manage the stress in our lives in necessary. We all carry stress, we all have pressure and responsibilities that eat at us daily, and sadly, the pressure doesn’t seem like it’s going to let up anytime soon. It’s in our best interest, then, to learn new methods of managing stress in the healthiest ways possible.
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” — Ralph Ellison
You may we wondering, “How can increasing my self-awareness reduce my stress?” That’s a fabulous question! There are four main reasons why I believe self-awareness can help to counteract stress.
#1 Remaining present helps to act instead of react:
When we move throughout our day going through the motions, existing rather than living, stress has a greater chance of catching us off guard. When this happens we are more likely to react to the stress without thinking about the consequences of our reaction. We don’t consider the effects our reaction will have on us, our future, or our loved ones. When we are self-aware, we have the ability to think through an appropriate response to stress rather than let it pull the rug out from under us. For more information on staying in the moment read What Are You Missing?
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung
#2 Awareness of feelings can help to regulate them:
When we are aware of our emotions and the effect that our emotions have on our behaviour, we have the upper hand in regulating them. Allowing our emotions to run away with us, allowing them to rule us instead of being in control of them, is a wonderful way of damaging relationships and burning bridges. We are more likely to say things we can’t take back and don’t mean when our emotions run unchecked. We are more likely to allow our physical health to suffer and to let the quality of our work suffer when we lose control of our feelings. This only adds to our stress.
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself” — Michel de Montaigne
#3 Awareness of thoughts is the only way to change them:
When we are aware of our thought processes, then we can change them to make them more positive and productive. Our thoughts give way to our emotions and our emotions lead to our behaviour. When our thoughts become more positive, so then does our feelings and our actions. Our thoughts are powerful. They have the ability to increase our stress levels and symptoms or reduce them. The more aware we are of our thoughts, the more likely we are to get them to work in our favour. For more information on how thoughts affect our feelings check out Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World.
“Your visions become clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” — Carl Jung
#4 Awareness of wants and needs is the only way to meet them:
We will never meet our wants and needs if we have no idea what we want and need. Self-awareness affords us the opportunity to fulfill the needs most important to our well-being, or to recruit supports to help us fill the needs we cannot fill alone. Meeting needs is incredibly important for stress reduction and for leading healthy well-rounded lives. Much of our stress comes from unmet needs. For more information on meeting needs effectively read What Do You Need to Thrive?
There are many methods by which we can practice and increase our self-awareness. I have composed the following list of strategies that can be used:
- Mindfulness Techniques
- Grounding Methods
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Relaxed/Deep Breathing Relaxation
- Art Therapy
Do you know of self-awareness building skills that are not listed here? Please feel free to add them in the comment section below. I would love to hear about which strategies work for you.