When your life gets busy, it’s so easy to slip into autopilot. If you’ve ever eaten a snack in front of the TV and suddenly realized it’s gone or arrived at a destination without any memory of getting there, you’ve experienced your mind going into autopilot. During these moments of “mindlessness,” we’re missing out on some really great parts of life, and also may be ignoring important messages about our health and relationships.

 

Self-awareness is our ability to tune into our own thoughts, actions and emotions and has a major impact on our mental health. That sounds simple on the surface, but most of us are not as in touch with ourselves as we’d like to think. It takes a lot of practice and skill to develop, but practicing self-awareness is well worth it. Here are a few ways to get started:

 

 

1. Be still
Meditation is a classic way to work on mindfulness, and a Body Scan Mediation can help you work on your self-awareness. Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Then focus on bringing awareness to each part of your body, starting with your feet and slowly moving up to your head. If you notice any tension, pause there and breathe into it.

 

2. Be mindful in motion
Whether you’re practicing yoga, going for a run or taking a HIIT class, stay in conversation with your body. How do you feel before, during, and after these activities? What does it feel like to exist in your body?

 

3. Record your thoughts
Journaling is a great way to reflect on your life and emotions in a more objective way. Make time to write down what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling. Remember, all of your feelings are valid but your reactions to those feelings may not be. Write down what went well for you today as well as your challenges. Write down what you need to work on as well as what you’re proud of. If you do this regularly, you’ll likely notice trends and patterns that will give you more insight into your mind, your reactions, your triggers and your life.

 

4. Pay attention to your self-talk
Self-talk is the dialogue you have with yourself every day. An important part of self-awareness is paying attention to this self-talk. What kind of words do you use when you talk to yourself? If you’re engaging in negative self-talk, work on being gentler and more patient—try talking to yourself the way you would a friend or even a young child. Engaging in a more positive dialogue with yourself can make a huge difference in your mental and emotional health.

 

5. Slow down
Spend a little time with yourself each day moving at a slower pace. Put your phone away and really focus on your tasks and how you feel in each moment. You can do this while you make your morning cup of coffee – savoring the smell, or the feeling of the warm liquid traveling down your throat all the way to your belly. Slow down while you eat a meal, or even while you clean it up. The only rule: no screens, no music or podcasts, just you and your thoughts and feelings.