Since mid 2020 I ran several workshops and webinars. One thing I mentioned in all of them is self-awareness. Self-awareness is important for all areas of our lives because knowing our own feelings, urges, thoughts, behaviours etc. makes  a huge difference in the way we live. When it comes to stress, being self-aware (or stress-aware) makes it a lot easier to deal with whatever life throws at us.

What is self-awareness and why is it important to develop it?
What is self-awareness?
Self-awareness is a state when we consciously know about who we are, understand our feelings, motives, desires. Unfortunately, quite often we go through our days without paying attention to our thoughts and behaviour. So we experience tension, tiredness and distress without realising it.
Our daily lives consists of many habits and emotional responses we perform automatically, on autopilot. These are the habits and emotional responses we develop over years and we apply them to situations unconsciously. Some of them are helpful. For example, we all have morning routines. And implementing them unconsciously is normal. In this situation autopilot saves us time and energy.
However when autopilot takes over our emotional responses, without us noticing, it may cause problems, the biggest one being loss of control over a situation. Problem resolution needs our attention, therefore, conscious consideration of the situation and analysis of possible solutions is necessary. This requires awareness of the situation, different variable. It also requires that we know what we feel and why. So, without self-awareness we can’t take back control. And here is why.
Why self-awareness matters?
·       Self-awareness helps to build confidence. Knowing yourself means you know who you are, what your values are. It becomes easier to make decisions because we align them with our core needs and values.
·       Self-aware people are perceptive. This is one of those qualities that helps to win in personal and work life.
·       Self-aware people better understand themselves, know their own strength and weaknesses.  While their self-knowledge makes them realise where they are lacking so that they can work on their weaknesses, it also empowers them to introduce positive change in their lives by using their strengths.
·       Self-aware people are more authentic therefore,  they are more likable.
·       Self-aware people are good at setting boundaries. Because they know what they want, because  they know when they must stop and recharge, they know when to say NO in order to stay focused, organised and stress-free.
How to become stress-aware?
I noticed that people do not always realise how stress is experienced in their own bodies and minds. They do not always connect how they feel and behave with the stress they experience. And that is understandable. We go through most of their lives on autopilot, not coping with the build-up of stress.
How to become self-aware when stressed? By becoming more mindful. By paying attention on physical and emotional changes within us.
Any time there is  tension in the body, it is time to stop and listen. Where in the body is stress located?  What is the breathing like? Shallow? Faster? Has the heartrate increased? Wobbly knees? Dizziness? Headache? Sore stomach? What do you feel? Sad? Upset? Angry? What do you do when stressed? Hide under the blanket? Lash out? Reach for another glass of wine? Everyone’s reactions
What changes when we become more stress-aware?
The benefits of being self-aware are mentioned above. Here are the benefits of being stress-aware.
·       Be prepared/equipped for stressors
·       Become less reactive or explosive in stressful situations
·       Using positive coping strategies
·       More clarity in life which leads to confident interactions with others and better self-esteem
·       Clarity also leads to making better decisions in life.

Consciously attending to stress, learning about ourselves, our stressors and our reactions help us to overcome lots of issues related to self-esteem, interpersonal communication, relationships. That is why it is worth taking steps towards becoming more self-aware and stress-aware. It is an invaluable tool  in situations when we need to stay calm, take difficult decisions and to live a happier life.

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