There’s so much focus on self-improvement these days – making changes to our lives to improve our performance, our physical health and mastering new skills. It’s generally straightforward to tell what helps us improve in these areas:
- Testing new time management techniques to meet our targets at work
- Increasing the amount of exercise we do to increase our physical fitness
- Regular practice to learn a new skill
But how do we know what is and isn’t good for our wellbeing? We all lead busy lives so it’s hard to tell what is good for us and what might be having a negative impact on our health and wellbeing.
Having an insight into our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can improve our wellbeing. We gain this insight through the process of reflection. If we can identify what is good and bad for our wellbeing, we can make the changes we need to improve and maintain our wellbeing.
Theme 6: Reflection
Reflection builds on last week’s theme of mindfulness, as it also involves recognising our thoughts and feelings. Focusing our attention on ourselves can help with our personal growth and wellbeing – reflection consolidates learning from our experiences and enables us to apply this learning to new situations.
What is reflection? Self-reflection is the process of focusing on ourselves and increasing our awareness of our thoughts and feelings. Having an insight into how we think, feel and are motivated is key to our psychological health. Taking time to reflect can reduce anxiety, improve motivation and help us plan for the future.
It is important to understand that reflection focuses on learning from past events to improve our current and future wellbeing. It isn’t rumination – repeatedly focusing on negative events or problems that we’ve experienced without finding ways to overcome them. Rumination is linked with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Rather than ruminating, the activities in this theme will encourage us to reflect upon setbacks and challenge with the aim of overcoming them in the future. Reflection is all about practice and as we progress through the blog, more tasks and techniques will be provided to help you reflect.
Why reflection is good for our wellbeing
Taking the time to reflect can help us:
- Learn from past experiences
- Manage ourselves and our lives better
- Make better informed choices for the future
- Adapt to new and/or changing situations
- Problem solve
- Make choices that improve our health
Through the process of reflection, we can identify imbalances in our feelings and personal needs. Once these have been identified, we can make changes and choices that address them. This process of reflection and behaviour change has been shown to improve our wellbeing.
Reflection can increase our ability to learn – which we already know is good for our wellbeing. Additionally, the relationship between reflection and wellbeing works both ways – positive self-beliefs can lead us to evaluate ourselves positively.
The onus on improving our wellbeing is ultimately on us. Taking 15 minutes to reflect can help us figure out what we need more and less of to improve our mental and physical health.
This week’s task gets you to reflect on the people, places and things that are good and bad for our wellbeing. Every day we interact with other people and the exchanges we have with others can have a huge impact on our mood and overall wellbeing. The environments we live, work and socialise in can affect how we feel about ourselves. The things we do and activities we engage in can also influence our health and wellbeing. This week’s activity worksheet includes some examples to help you reflect on what’s good and bad for your wellbeing.
Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.
If reflecting on people, places and things has helped improve your wellbeing, please do get in contact and share your story!
I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.
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