Life is a whirlwind and in-between being there for your friends, throwing yourself into work, and running a thousand different tasks. With everything going on, it can be tough to find time and focus on yourself. When we talk about focusing on yourself we don't just mean running yourself a long hot bath or vegging out to a movie one Sunday a month. We mean really getting into the practice of turning your attention inwards and taking some time on the reg to check in with your feelings, adapt your goals, and make sure that you are doing more of the things you want to do in life and meeting your own needs.
Why Focusing On Yourself Matters
Focusing on yourself may sound like an ego trip but it's far from it. It helps us to be better people, not just to ourselves but to everyone around us. It helps us to move forward, to grow, to set healthy boundaries, improve our sense of well-being, and lead a healthy lifestyle that is in sync with our soul. This article from Berkley sketched out a study where participants were found to be 'happier when they had a balance of helping others and focusing on themselves too.
Self-improvement can feel big and overwhelming and all about making big changes or knowing exactly what you want in life. This isn't always easy, especially after the huge cultural and life shift we have all just been through with the pandemic. Learning how to focus on yourself can be done in a different way. It can mean small steps, sustainable changes, and tweaks that keep you in the driving seat of your own life. It helps us to steer clear of complacency and keeps us in and out of our comfort zone so we can grow and thrive in our goals and our mental health.
9 Ways To Focus On Yourself
Here are some small and simple tips to help you take some time to learn how to focus on yourself and find time for reflection and thought in everyday life.
1. Commit to Daily Health Checks
Self-improvement isn't all about big picture thinking and grandiose goal setting, sometimes it's the simplest things that make a difference. Embracing self-love can start with making sure your baseline needs are being met.
This means getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, aiming for an easy exercise routine, gulping down some fresh air, and generally checking in with your physical body on a daily basis. Doing these small important things can cause a major shift in thinking.
It's the foundations of self-care and self-love that can stir up motivation and open the door for you to feel ready to achieve bigger things.
2. Smash the Self Talk
Words matter. We all know this when it comes to communicating with people we love in our lives but we don't always apply the same philosophy when it comes to ourselves. Self-compassion also matters when it comes to the thoughts that run rampant in our minds.
We know that sometimes it's not always easy to get a handle on negative thought processes but by being mindful about how our interior monologue is unravelling in the present moment and recognizing how our thoughts make us feel, this can be one of the biggest positive changes you bring into your life. Learning to be kind to oneself isn't always an easy task but it is the path to a much happier life. Check out this study on how self-talk can help us to regulate anxiety.
3. Remember Micro Habits Matter
When we talk about personal development this can all feel very overwhelming as we usually go straight for the big things in our head. Are we happy with our job, our relationship, our current place in life?
Every journey begins with a small step and every change starts with a single second. Smaller tasks can make bigger goals feel more achievable - 5 minutes of yoga in the morning, one line in a gratitude journal every eve, ten dollars in a savings account each week. these are solid actionable steps that get you closer to that big goal.
4. Keep a Journal
You don't have to be a writer to get a ton of benefits out of journaling. The practice of writing a couple of pages every day can help you to process your thoughts, move past something you may have been clinging to, and to understand what you are feeling right now.
Some say morning pages are best; when our mind is less hemmed in, we automatically write and let our true unfiltered thoughts flow through - especially when we know no one will read it. You may be surprised at what comes out.
Another benefit of committing to journal practice is that it's an opportunity to carve out some time for yourself. Taking ten minutes to write in a journal is a dedicated ten minutes of me-time that is proactive when it comes to focusing on yourself and your feelings about life.
5. Find a Hobby That Helps
Whether it's cold water swimming, learning a musical instrument, taking a dance class or a DIY class, studies have shown that hobbies, experiences, varied interests, and new things can all be truly beneficial for helping ease anxiety and improving mental health issues.
Choosing a hobby also helps us to get to know and understand ourselves better. Just make sure that you pick something that you truly want to do rather than hitching your wagon to someone else's star or choosing to chase something that you think you should be doing rather than what you want to be doing.
Need help figuring out what to start next? Here are some blog posts that might help you get started:
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- All the Amazing Online Courses You Can Take Right Now
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- Hate Yoga? 10 Yoga Alternative to Zen You Out
6. Have Regular Social Media Breaks
Even when we all know that social media can be a smoke and mirrors act (most of us only share the good stuff), Insta, TikTok and Facebook can still nudge us towards unhealthy behaviors and comparisons. Having regular breaks from social media can pull you out of that cycle of scroll and compare and can keep you grounded in the real world.
Constantly updating social media may also cause us to disassociate or experience our own lives from a voyeuristic outsider point of view. We see ourselves through the imagined eyes of those who scroll our social media feeds and this can make us feel disconnected from our own ideas of success, healthy relationships, and what a happy life actually feels like.
Too much social media can heighten loneliness, cause FOMO, chew up lots of free time where you could be doing something proactive for your wellbeing, and also keeps you anchored or stuck in the past. We aren't saying delete all your social apps, but having a scheduled break every once in a while can be truly liberating.
7. Implement Solid Coping Strategies
Life loves to throw curveballs at us and whether it's a bad day at work, a bust-up in your relationship, the overwhelm of too many obligations or anything that pushes you to the edge, it always helps to have a coping strategy plan in place.
Finding what works for you when life is tough is all part of knowing yourself better. This could be meditation or exercise to help you shift energy or focus when you are in emotional overwhelm. It could be working on healthy boundaries by practicing saying no to small things with people who provide you with a safe space to do so. It could be going out for a walk at times when you feel panicked or quick to anger. It could be asking for help with tasks or practicing communication skills.
Getting a grasp on coping strategies is one of the most important gifts you can give to yourself as it reinforces the idea that you are a capable person who knows yourself best and can make choices that elevate your own well being. It helps to reduce codependency, strengthens self-esteem, and it makes daily life feel more manageable in general.
8. Shift Perspective to Yourself
Checking in with yourself on a regular basis is a good thing for those who need to stay connected and embodied.
It can be easy to let others lead us in our goals and to follow someone else's plan for happiness. Learning how to focus on yourself means shifting perspective back to yourself and finding what you want your own life to look like.
Getting in touch with our deepest desires means getting in touch with those moments that make us feel content, alive, and excited. It means learning to leave the internal distractions behind and looking at all the different areas of your life and yourself to see what feels like it fits and what feels too tight. The more we get to know ourselves and to feel ourselves the better equipped we are to make choices that work with our sense of self.
This practice means just taking a moment when someone says something or something happens to shift into your own body and mind and check-in to see how it feels. It's called somatic decision making and it keeps us in our bodies and building our ability to use intuition when deciding how we want our life to look.
9. Write a Super Long Dream List
Write a list of all the things you want to achieve in life and all the things that matter to you. We aren't talking about a top ten list but something that is huge and sprawling and goes on for 200 bullet points. As you make the list, don't read it back as you go but instead wait until the end.
You may notice when you hit 200 things and read it back that the same thing or a bunch of similar things keep popping up. This allows you to see what is truly important to you, what sits beneath the distraction, what is constantly waiting in the subconscious, and what you want to do with your one wild and precious life.
Not only will taking the time to flesh out your dreams and desires gift you that much-needed opportunity to spend time with your own thoughts of the future, but it also helps to orientate you, make a specific goal clear to you, and help you to manifest a life that fits you like a glove.
How do you take a short break from the world to shine that focus back on yourself? Do you think it's important in the long run to have goals and dreams? We would love to hear how your own soul search is going. Share with us in the comments.