Self-awareness involves monitoring our stress, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. It is important, because it’s a major mechanism influencing personal development. Our lives can get out-of-control pretty fast if we are unaware of how and under what circumstances our emotional nature is triggered.
How do we increase self-awareness?
Self-awareness requires self-examination. But that honest, non-judgmental self-analysis isn’t always easy. We tend to berate ourselves for our failings or fantasize about how great we are, when neither is actually the case. We all have a unique mix of “good” and “bad” traits, but we are largely unaware of them. In order to self-reflect objectively, we need to quiet our minds and open our hearts, forgiving ourselves for our imperfections and offering ourselves kudos when we deserve them.
So how do we build self-awareness?
1. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is similar to self-awareness in that they both relate to consciously directing our thoughts inward in order to become more aware of our inner state of being, to observe our thoughts and beliefs, and to notice what triggers our emotions as they rise and fall. Mindfulness includes focused attention in the moment to whatever one is doing, and involves practices such as meditation or a quieting of the mind.
2. Write in a journal
Writing our thoughts or stream-of-consciousness ideas can help us open up to those vulnerable places within. Writing sometimes reveals what contemplation does not, so this method of self-exploration may assist you in expanding your self-awareness. Telling your story, releasing your woes on paper, dreaming up your fantasy situation — these are ways your subconscious can speak to you, revealing what’s really “the matter.”
3. Be a better listener
“Getting out of ourselves” by focusing on another person is a good antidote to stop downward spirals of negative thinking. By listening objectively, even lovingly, to what that person wants to or needs to share, we learn how to better listen to our own inner dialogues and opinions objectively and lovingly.
4. Ask for feedback
Since we are with ourselves all the time, we may miss something when we look at ourselves. That’s where the objectivity of others can be most helpful in self-assessment. If you have the courage, ask a friend or acquaintance their opinion of you, or ask about how you managed some project you worked on together or how you handled yourself in some quirky situation.
Try to be resilient and willing to hear what they have to say. When some aspect of self is revealed that could use some additional refinement, be willing to look behind the obvious to its underlying secret or wound. When you find something that needs some re-tweaking, make a mental or written note to yourself to look at it later when you have some time alone for your self-care.
5. Walk in nature
The mind tends to wander along with our feet, so with a little conscious nudging (and walking), we can examine our part in something that is happening in our lives now — at work, in social situations, in our relationships, or within the family.
Strategies that boost positive thinking, according to science.
When you think positive you just can’t help but be optimistic, even when everyone around you is miserable. As a result, you are happier and more satisfied with your life. So how do you get your stubborn brain to start thinking positive?
1. Practice gratitude
I’ll be the first to admit that there are an infinite number of things to be angry, sad, or anxious about. But the truth is that there are also an infinite number of things to feel passionate, joyful, and excited about. It’s up to us to decide which we want to focus on.
One way to train your brain to focus on the positive is to practice gratitude. Gratitude is when we feel or express thankfulness for the people, things, and experiences we have. When we express gratitude at work, we can more easily gain the respect and camaraderie of those we work with. When we are grateful for our partners or friends, they are more generous and kind to us. When we are grateful for the little things in our day-to-day lives, we find more meaning and satisfaction in our lives.
Need to build a gratitude habit? Try these 5 ways to practice gratitude.
2. Savor the good moments
Too often we let the good moments pass, without truly celebrating them. Maybe your friend gives you a small gift or a colleague makes you laugh. Do you stop to notice and appreciate these small pleasures that life has to offer? If not, then you could benefit from savoring.
Savoring just means holding onto the good thoughts and emotions we have. You can savor by holding on to the emotions you’re feeling in positive moments. Or you can savor by thinking about positive experiences from long ago. Savoring is a great way to develop a long-lasting stream of positive thoughts and emotions.
3. Generate positive emotions by watching fun videos
The broaden-and-build theory suggests that experiencing positive emotions builds our psychological, intellectual, and social resources, allowing us to benefit more from our experiences and be happier. So how do we infuse our lives with small bursts of positive emotion?
One way is to watch positive or fun videos. Watching cat videos or inspirational videos can generate a quick boost of positive emotions that can help fuel an upward spiral of positive emotions. Just be sure to mentally hang onto the positive emotions that emerge using strategies like savoring, so that you take your good mood with you when you leave the couch. And be careful not to get sucked in for too long or you may end up feeling guilty for not getting more done.
4. Stop minimizing your successes
We have a bad habit of downplaying our successes and not fully appreciating our wins. For example, we may say, “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to.” But this fails to recognize the effort that you put in—effort that not everyone would put in. These phrases minimize your small successes instead of celebrating them. As you pursue positive thinking, happiness, or well-being—whatever your goal is—take note of your wins. After every small win, celebrate a little bit.
Do these 6 things today to increase immunity and reduce the harm of illness.
As the coronavirus spreads, we are hearing about how to reduce exposure and take care of ourselves if we get sick. These are important tips, but we’re not hearing much about how we can boost our immunity so that if we do get exposed to the virus—or worse, we get sick—our body can effectively fight back.
Our immune systems are designed to fight off illnesses and viruses. But unfortunately, the immune system can get worn down by many things typical of a modern life—for example, stress, toxins, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating. This prevents our bodies from effectively fighting off sickness.
With coronavirus all over the world, it’s more important than ever to support the immune system. We can do this by making a few key tweaks to our thoughts, actions, and habits.
Here are 6 essential ways to boost your immunity in preparation for coronavirus:
1. Reduce Stress
When you’re stressed out your body produces stress hormones which tax the immune system. So one of the most important ways to boost immunity is to reduce stress. To reduce stress, it’s key to ensure you have decent work-life balance, take breaks when you need them (both short “water-cooler” breaks and longer vacations), and to employ some calming or relaxing stress-reduction techniques, like mindfulness. And if you’re already feeling really burned out, taking adrenal support supplements like Ashwagandha can sometimes be helpful.
2. Sleep whenever you’re tired
Many of us walk around this world in a state of constant exhaustion. But every time we stay awake when our bodies want us to sleep, we increase stress and hurt our immunity. If we’re drinking caffeinated drinks all the time (e.g., coffee, black tea, soda) we may not even realize just how tired we really are. Because sleeping is essential to rebuilding a struggling immune system, we need to let ourselves sleep as much as we need.
3. Consume immunity-boosting vitamins
To support your immune system, you can eat immunity supporting foods like citrus fruits, garlic, broccoli, and spinach. If your immune system is already weak, it can also be helpful to supplement with key vitamins and minerals that may have become depleted like Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and Zinc.
4. Reduce Inflammation
Sugar, processed meat, vegetable oils, and alcohol tend to be inflammatory foods so they busy the immune system, leaving other problems in your body unaddressed. That’s why it can be really helpful to remove these inflammatory foods if we want a healthy immune system.
5. Exercise, but not too much
Exercise can be one of the best things to do to boost immunity. But we have to be careful because too much exercise is stressful on the body and can be tough on our immune system. So just keep the other tips in mind: Keep stress low, and if you’re tired, rest.
6. Stay away from toxins
Toxins can be devastating for the immune system. For example, mycotoxins from mold are notorious for destroying the immune system. Many other toxins and parasites seem to have negative effects on immunity as well. So do a parasite cleanse and minimize exposure to chlorinated drinking water, pesticides, aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., air fresheners), heavy metals, air pollution, and food additives.
By taking these actions, we can help prevent ourselves and our loved ones from suffering significantly from the coronavirus.
Discover what well-being is and why you can indeed increase your well-being.
Well-being is the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and ability to manage stress. More generally, well-being is just feeling well.
Well-being is something sought by just about everyone, because it includes so many positive things: feeling happy, healthy, socially connected, and purposeful. Unfortunately, well-being appears to be in decline, at least in the U.S. And increasing your well-being can be tough without knowing what to do and how to do it.
Can You Actually Improve Your Well-Being?
Increasing your well-being is simple; there are tons of skills you can build. But increasing your well-being is not always easy: Figuring out what parts of well-being are most important for you and figuring out how, exactly, to build well-being skills usually require some extra help.
How Long Does It Take to Improve Well-Being?
Usually when people start consistently using science-based techniques for enhancing well-being, they begin to feel better pretty quickly—most people show notable improvements within five weeks.
Butyou have to stick to it. If you are feeling better after five weeks, you can’t just stop there.
Why? Well, you probably already know that if you stop eating healthy and go back to eating junk food, then you’ll end up back where you started. It turns out that the exact same thing is true for different types of well-being. If you want to maintain the benefits you gain, you’ll have to continue to engage in well-being-boosting practices to maintain your skills. So it’s really helpful to have strategies and tools that help you stick to your well-being goals — for example, a happiness and well-being plan or well-being boosting activities that you can continue to use throughout your life.
Where Does Well-Being Come From?
Well-being emerges from your thoughts, actions, and experiences — most of which you have control over. For example, when we think positive, we tend to have greater emotional well-being. When we pursue meaningful relationships, we tend to have better social well-being. And when we lose our job — or just hate it — we tend to have lower workplace well-being. These examples start to reveal how broad well-being is, and how many different types of well-being there are.
Because well-being is such a broad experience, let’s break it down into its different types.
5 Major Types of Well-Being
Emotional Well-Being. The ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient, and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings.
Physical Well-Being. The ability to improve the functioning of your body through healthy eating and good exercise habits.
Social Well-Being. The ability to communicate, develop meaningful relationships with others, and maintain a support network that helps you overcome loneliness.
Workplace Well-Being. The ability to pursue your interests, values, and purpose in order to gain meaning, happiness, and enrichment professionally.
Societal Well-Being. The ability to actively participate in a thriving community, culture, and environment.
To build your overall well-being, you have to make sure all of these types are functioning to an extent.
Think of it like this: Imagine you are in a car. Your engine works great, and maybe your transmission works pretty well, too, but your brakes don’t work. Because your brakes don’t work, it doesn’t really matter how well your engine works; you’re still going to have trouble going about your life.
The same is true for your well-being. If everything else in your life is going great, but you feel lonely, or you’re eating unhealthfully, other areas of your life will be affected, and you likely won’t feel as well as you want to.
Because each part of well-being is important to your overall sense of well-being, let’s talk about how to build each type of well-being:
Emotional Well-Being. To develop emotional well-being, we need to build emotional skills — skills like positive thinking, emotion regulation, and mindfulness, for example. Often, we need to build a variety of these skills to cope with the wide variety of situations we encounter in our lives. When we have built these emotional well-being skills, we can better cope with stress, handle our emotions in the face of challenges, and quickly recover from disappointments. As a result, we can enjoy our lives a bit more, be happier and pursue our goals a bit more effectively.
Physical Well-Being. To develop our physical well-being, we need to know what a healthy diet and exercise routine looks like, so that we can implement effective strategies in our daily lives. When we improve our physical well-being, not only do we feel better, our newfound health can also help prevent many diseases, heal our guts, boost our emotional well-being, and limit the number of health challenges we have to deal with in our lives.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to eat healthy but still be unhealthy. We can accidentally miss important foods or nutrients. Or we can overburden ourselves with toxins from plastic or processed food. As a result, we may need to eat additional foods, detox our bodies, or prevent these toxins from entering our bodies again. This is why it’s essential to learn about health, so that we can make the right changes — those that lead to long-term health and well-being.
Social Well-Being. To develop social well-being, we need to build our social skills, like gratitude, kindness, and communication. Social skills make it easier for us to have positive interactions with others, helping us to feel less lonely, angry, or disconnected. When we have developed our social well-being, we feel more meaningfully connected to others.
It’s important to know that building social well-being is one the best ways to build emotional well-being. When we feel socially connected, we also tend to just feel better, have more positive emotions, and we are able to cope better with challenges. This is why it’s essential to build our social well-being.
Workplace Well-Being. To develop our workplace well-being, we need to build skills that help us pursue what really matters to us. This can include building professional skills which help us to advance more effectively, but it also includes things like living our values and maintaining work-life balance. These skills let us enjoy our work more, helping us to stay focused, motivated, and successful at work. When we have developed workplace well-being, our work, and therefore each day, feels more fulfilling.
Because we spend so much time at work, building our workplace well-being has a big impact on our overall well-being.
Societal Well-Being. To develop societal well-being, we need to build skills that make us feel interconnected with all things. We need to know how to support our environment, build stronger local communities, and foster a culture of compassion, fairness, and kindness. These skills help us feel like we’re part of a thriving community that really supports one another and the world at large. When we cultivate societal well-being, we feel like we are a part of something bigger than just ourselves.
Although each of us only makes up a tiny fraction of a society, it takes all of us to create societal well-being. If each of us did one kind act for someone else in our community, then we would live in a very kind community. Or if all of us decide we are going to recycle, then suddenly we create a world with significantly less waste. In order to live in a healthy society, we too need to contribute to making a healthy society.
There Is No Magic About Building Well-Being
Keep in mind, it takes time and effort to build any new skill set — that includes well-being skills. It’s important to be realistic with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish in a given amount of time. Having unrealistic expectations can lead you to give up before you’ve reached your well-being goals. So it’s key to create a realistic plan for your well-being, stick to it, and take small actions every day that add up to big improvements over time.