Paying attention to yourself can reduce stress, anxiety and depression as it helps you to stay present and automatically calms you down. Here are 4 practical tips on how to pay attention to yourself:
1.: Start saying: "That's just me"
Instead of criticising, blaming or doubting yourself when things go wrong, start saying: "That's me. And that's okay." Self-acceptance is something we can nurture. Cultivating self-acceptance is a often the first step to paying more attention to yourself.
2. "Fake it 'til you make it"
If you don't think you're worthy, you will probably find it very difficult to pay attention to yourself. In that case, it can help to think and do it before you know it: Force yourself to ask the following questions and make sure you have an answer to each of them:
- How do I feel, right now, in this moment?
- What would make me happy right now?
- Am I able to do this for myself right now?
- If not: why not?
Be honest with yourself when answering the questions. This exercise will only take a few moments, but it can be painful if you have never practised to focus on yourself in a loving and caring way. Don't be judgmental or critical. Write down the answers and be proud of yourself that you were able to give yourself the attention you deserve. In most cases, people feel an immediate improvement of their mood after doing this simple exercise. If you practise it daily, it will have a lasting positive affect on your mental health.
3.: Pay close attention to your movements
We often don't realise how many things we do automatically, without paying attention, for example in the morning: brushing your teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, having a coffee - all these actions are mostly done without being aware. A good exercise to pay more attention to yourself is to pay close attention to your motion and action and see what it feels like. In most cases, paying attention to your movements will give you a strong, positive sense of control. This will help you to stay in the 'now' and if you practise it daily, it will help you cultivate a sense of presence and inner peace.
4.: Chose a positive word to focus on
This may seem ridiculous at the beginning, but it really helps to pay more attention to yourself and to cultivate self-love: Pick a word that you would like to focus on for the next couple of hours. This could be for example the word 'RELAX'. Repeat this word silently as often as you can, until it turns into a kind of background music in your head. The more you repeat the word, the more you will automatically think the word. And whatever you think will sooner or later turn into an emotion. If you think the word 'RELAX' long enough, you will feel relaxed - it just takes discipline and determination at the beginning. You will experience that the more you practise, the easier it gets to reprogram your subconscious and therefore change the way you feel.
I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I offer psychotherapy and counselling for expats and I specialise in typical expatriate mental health issues. Read more about my work here: English speaking therapist in Hamburg.