The last weeks of summer are winding down. September will be here before we know it and it’ll be back to the old grind and the crazy-busy mindset of the new fall season.
Summer is great because we have the opportunity for quiet time to check in to ourselves and cultivate self-awareness. When we’re chilling out at the cottage, on the beach, in the backyard or at the local park we get a chance to contemplate the things we haven’t had time to think about during the busy year.
Unfortunately, it all tends to fall apart after Labor Day because as soon as we get busy again we go into auto-pilot mode and start to lose touch with ourselves. We want to be more mindful but it seems like as soon as the pace picks up we start being more mindless.
A few weeks of self-reflection are helpful in gaining insights for sure, but we can’t expect this increased level of self-awareness to be sustained without any effort throughout the year. Self-awareness has to be practiced on a regular basis if we want to benefit from it throughout the year.
Even when work or school or family life is super-busy, it’s essential that you choose to slow down, sit, breathe, contemplate and dream and that you do it on a regular basis. You might think that this down-time is detracting from your productivity but you’d be wrong. You’re investing in yourself when you make time to tune in. Tuning in always helps you to become more creative, productive, empowered and resilient.
A lot of people these days choose to stay busy in order to avoid facing their feelings. This isn’t helped by the fact that our society makes it super-easy not to feel. We’re constantly provided with infinite number of distractions and diversions from our natural emotions, but the more we avoid our feelings, it gets harder and harder to face them. When we avoid our feelings we become disconnected from ourselves and then we can’t know what we need in the moment or in the long-term.
In a busy day filled with a million things to do it’s easy to get into the habit of eating while standing up or walking around, but that just adds to your stress and impairs your digestion. Mindful eating makes you slow down and it forces you to be in the moment with your feelings of hunger and satisfaction.
Mindful eating makes you really taste and appreciate your food and it enables you to eat until you’re full and then stop eating. And, when you practice mindful eating, you’re building your “mindfulness muscle” and making it easier to take this mindful awareness into the other parts of your busy day.
Physical well-being contributes to emotional and psychological well-being (and vice-versa). It’s difficult to be self-aware when you’re feeling sluggish, uncomfortable or unwell. When you exercise, eat more plant-based foods, detoxify yourself and avoid harmful substances (like pesticides, chemical additives and junk foods) you nurture your body and make it so much easier to focus on your feelings and your needs.
Without enough good-quality sleep, it’s really difficult to be self-aware. When you’re chronically fatigued you’re more distractible, less able to focus, more indecisive and forgetful, more irritable and impatient. When you get enough good-quality sleep, you wake up refreshed and you’re ready to take on the world.
Here are a couple of good sleep hygiene tips: 1- leave the phone in a different room at night to avoid distractions and focus on getting a good night’s sleep; and 2- try to wake up gently after your 7-8 hours of sleep as opposed to not getting enough sleep and having to wake up to the noise of an alarm. Waking up gently gives you the space to remember your dreams and it starts your day in a more self-aware state.
We become so driven and task-oriented that we forget the advantages of deliberately incorporating play-time into our lives. Play is re-energizing; it helps us to learn about ourselves and it builds social intelligence. Play enables us to release stress and to have a more joyful attitude. It is highly conducive to improved self-awareness and to more happiness.
Spending time with friends and loved ones has a tremendously positive effect on us, both emotionally and physically. It reduces stress, increases the levels of endorphins – the “feel-good” hormones in our bloodstream – and it improves our cognitive functioning as well. It also supports longevity. When people say that “love heals,” it’s the actual truth.
Read, learn; embark on creative projects. The more you invest in your own personal growth and development, the more self-aware you’ll be and the more likely it’ll be that you’ll get what you want in life. Taking time to learn and grow helps you become your best self, and this will enable you to live your best life.
Before the summer is over, it might be a good idea to take to heart these 7 tips for improved self-awareness. Before you get caught up in the crazy-busy mindset of the fall season, you can set yourself up for success by integrating these 7 tips into your daily life.