Self-awareness means being able to mindfully be aware of your actions, your surroundings and your emotions, even the feelings of others around you, this being known as empathy.
How mindful are you of your actions? How aware are you of your feelings?
How aware are you at any given moment at doing whatever it is you may be doing?
Are you present? Are you alert?
When we are distracted we are normally less self-aware, these distractions are normally caused by our chattering minds, our thoughts of the future often take us out of the moment.
It's called "lost in thought" for a reason we get so distracted by what could happen next that we become less aware of everything we are doing then and there.
Self-awareness is important for us in our everyday life, by being self aware we can learn a lot about ourselves, it is of ut-most importance as inner change can only happen through awareness, how can you take action on the changes needed if you aren't even aware of your thoughts and feelings and what they could mean.
I want to give you a few exercises to practice to increase your self-awareness, after practicing these there is no going back, it's like seeing something and it simply cannot be unseen, you will start observe things you never even contemplated before.
Lets get to it -
1. Body language (How you hold yourself) -
Wherever you are or whatever you're doing, try become more aware of your body language.
Try to sit and stand with open body language, and become aware of when you feel like switching to more closed off stances because of anxiety or feeling nervous about the situation, become more aware of fidgeting and needing to do things with your hands and feet then try to relax and stay still.
Simply become aware of what your body is doing throughout the day, checking in with your body language and becoming more open is very important to how you appear to the world and how you feel about yourself.
Here's a full article on body language if you want to learn a little more - http://georgehowardinspire.com/2014/03/14/body-language-open-body/
Secondly, become more aware of others peoples body language, you can create much better connections with people if you can read a little of what they are feeling at any time, develop stronger empathy by trying to understand them through the signs they are giving you.
As much as 80% of communication is through this language. Yes it takes a lot of practice to start to accurately observe the body language of others but it's worth the effort.
2. Inner feelings and emotions -
This is an important one, as people often suppress and hide their anxiety and sadness/anger denying to themselves that they were ever feeling that way.
Whenever you feel an emotion no matter what it is, try to become aware of it.
Feel into it and where it is coming from, becoming aware of your feelings is of course not the most comfortable thing to do, hence the reason we teach ourselves to suppress it.
But 'sitting' in your pain and emotions will help you grow it is being there for yourself, you can begin to ask yourself what needs to be done to feel better in this moment, what 'self-love action' do you need to take?
3. Breathing -
Breathing is an amazing thing to raise our bodies energy or to simply help us relax, naturally, becoming aware of it will help in recognising whether you are tense, nervous or relaxed and calm.
The next time you become anxious watch what your breathing does, if you are like most people, your breathing will become shallow and restricted, when this happens take a few deep breaths, breathe all the way into your lower stomach than breathe slowly out, completely exhaling all the way.
Deep breathing relaxes your body and mind, a lot of repressed feelings are normally in the front of your body such as the chest, stomach and throat, by deep breathing you can learn to relax the front of your body and allow it to become more open and soft.
By doing this you release anxiety and tension that maybe you didn't realise was there, simply become aware of your breathing and practice deep breathing whenever you can.
I'd like to link you to a video by Elliot Hulse who does a video on deep breathing exercises that you can practice everyday to energise and relax your body, believe me when I say they are worth doing, from first hand experience deep breathing although uncomfortable at first, is incredibly energising and releases a load of anxious tensions that may of built up in our body over time. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD-3j2g9w9U
So there you are, 3 things you can practice to increase your self awareness, those 3 things alone will help you to become more present you won't be in your head thinking so much and you will be able to relax more through practice.
Practice mindfulness whenever you can and watch yourself grow as a person each and everyday.