“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James
Kindness is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Life will become lighter and your relationships will most likely improve. You will feel happier overall. Your self-esteem and your sense of deserving good things in life will go up. But it is also one thing that is often neglected or something some may feel guilty about doing. Being kind to yourself doesn’t always come naturally. To make a positive change with that, simply start a new habit today – kindness and love towards yourself. We all tend to think the worst of ourselves when under a lot of stress. The phrase “you are your own worst critic” rings true for a reason. So, the next time you feel like you’re being too hard on yourself, try these simple practices to foster self-compassion.
1. Talk kindly to yourself
Think about how you speak to the people you love and care about, and then turn that voice on yourself. Be conscious about your inner voice – let it be a friend to you or one that is kind to you, rather than one that is harsh or belittles you. This can help pick yourself up if things go wrong and help you cope better.
2. Practise gratitude
We often find that people who practise gratitude and notice the things they are thankful for are happier and have a greater sense of wellbeing. You might want to try and think of a few things in the morning or before you got to bed. You could tell someone in your household or write them down. Actively focus on the positives of your day. Reframing situations and looking for the positives can help strengthen your resilience.
3. Perform acts of kindness to others
Be kind to others. Small gestures have a big impact – whether it’s smiling at someone or letting someone go in front of you in a queue, for example. Doing good for others boosts your own wellbeing and at the same time helps brighten someone else’s day.
4. Reflect daily
Make time every day to give yourself some space to reflect on what’s going on for you and how you are feeling. A few minutes to sit and think or write in a journal can help you process your thoughts and feelings, and cope better with daily challenges.
Keeping healthy routines and rituals are an important way to look after yourself. These might be things like having breakfast, carving out some time for yourself in the day, planning what you eat, performing exercise, and doing some things you enjoy.
6. Be responsible for yourself
If a stressful or busy day tempts you to treat yourself (with junk food, for example) – think about whether this is a healthy move to make or not. A treat now and then is fine but recognise not to use it as a crutch as it can sabotage all the efforts you’ve made to look after yourself. Self-compassion comes with self-respect, not self-sabotage.
7. Invest in your interests
Do things that really align with your interests and passions. If you have a creative streak, make time for a creative outlet or if you like being outdoors or doing sports – make time for these too. These are the things that can often get pushed off your priority list, but it’s important that you don’t compromise them.
8. Practise mindfulness
Mindfulness is a way of thinking – focusing on the here and now. It encourages you to pay attention to the present moment. This can help reduce thinking too far ahead (and worrying about things that haven’t happened yet), or thinking about the past (and dwelling on things you cannot change). You can mindfully do almost anything – eat a meal, brush your teeth, or choose to go for a walk mindfully.
9. Spend time in nature
Being around elements of the natural world can be calming and improve your sense of wellbeing. Consider how you can make time to be with elements of the outdoors and natural world. This could be greenery such as your garden, a walk in the park, and green spaces around you. It could also be water, such as a stroll by a canal, lake, or river, or relaxing in a beach or parts of the coast if these are nearby.
10. Think of the opportunities
We’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic, which is understandably a cause of worry and stress. It may help to counter these feelings if you can consider this a unique time of opportunity too. We can reframe our perception of this time as a chance to pause, reflect and reset. Think about the things you didn’t enjoy in your life before, and what you may want to keep or change going forward.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson