Self-awareness and Authenticity
With all the calamities occurring in the world, one may question, how can I feel safe? What can I do to build or maintain stability in a world that appears to be so imbalanced? How can I show up in a world and for others in such unusual times? To answer those questions will require us to approach life with self-awareness.
First recognize we are only humans with limitations, and to move forward, we must learn to incorporate healthy boundaries. This can look like learning to say no to certain things when it no longer serves your best interest at hand. To do that, we must first give room for compassion - asking what our needs are, to adjust accordingly and practice self-care.
From a consumerism standpoint, self-care usually means to indulge - getting a manicure/ pedicure, buying Starbucks, shopping and so forth. However, self-care does not have to be based on consumeris, and could simply look like drinking a glass of water and staying hydrated, prioritizing rest, connecting with a friend or family member, stretching and/or taking a deep breath - making space or room for us to exist.
In all, one can say that self-awareness incorporates practicing compassion, healthy boundaries and self-care all of which are required to show up authentically. In practicing these things and making habits out of them, we not only allow ourselves to be authentic, but act as an example for others to do so as well.
Do you feel like your memory is not what it used to be? Maybe you don’t remember things you hear or read as well as you used to. Alternatively, are you craving unhealthy foods and high-fat options? If so, you might be suffering from an overdose of media exposure.
Studies have shown that individuals who engage in more media exposure (whether that be through formal news sources or social media) tend to report higher levels of anxiety. This increased anxiety can lead to decreased memory and poor eating habits, among other symptoms.
If you feel like this applies to you, here are a few tips:
- Try to limit your time spent checking news sources to 10 minutes/day (maybe not achievable right away, but try to limit to 10 minutes per session to start)
- Use trusted sources
- Protect your sleep by avoiding media before bedtime. We all know that we are supposed to use our beds for sleeping anyway!
- Consider mindful consumption. Delete some apps from your phone, and instead intentionally search for information, as you need it.
Ways to reduce stress and sadness during the winter months
We still may be feeling the challenges of a new year in February. This is where practicing thankfulness and gratitude can be a real mood booster. Gratitude tools and practices you can start with include:
- Writing down three things you're grateful or thankful for each morning as you start your day. These can be small things; the wonderful taste and aroma of your favourite morning coffee, the sunshine, or the restful sleep you enjoyed. Re-read these as you finish your day and add to your gratitude list if something comes to mind. By the end of the week, see how your list has changed, as well as your mood.
- Looking for positive language throughout your week. Write a short note to someone when you notice how they're using positivity in work, home or social situations.
Find calm in the chaos
The build-up to the Christmas festive season can be stressful and overwhelming. Our suggestions to control the chaos are to:
- Take time for a little self-care: a walk around the block, a relaxing bath, a five-minute meditation, listening to music, etc.
- Make a list of not more than three "to dos" per day and don't make them so monumentally large that you won't be able to get them done. Cross them off the list as you complete them for some intense satisfaction. If you have time at the end of those three and want to do more, do one thing at a time.
- Schedule your social life: there may be more opportunities to connect with people than last year and that is one way we can experience positive emotion. Mask up, follow social distancing measures and socialize (as long as it will be a positive interaction!)
- At the end of the week, if you're feeling a happier mood emerging, continue making lists and writing notes. If you don't notice a mood change, it may be time to reach out to someone for some guidance and support.