40 Ways to Practice Self-Kindness
by Mike O’Connor
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” ― Steve Maraboli
As we all know modern life can be very stressful. With so many demands on our time, through juggling family, work and friends, it can be a little difficult to give ourselves the attention that we really need and deserve.
Here we share forty pointers to YOU caring for YOU…
- Stretching – Treat yourself to a really good stretch before getting out of bed in the morning – It gets the blood moving, it helps to fire up our sleepy brains & it also gives us a few moments to connect with our body before the day starts.
- Drink plenty of water – This is simple, but it’s so good for you. Being dehydrated makes everything harder. H2O is pure liquid WIN!
- Regularly breathe deeply – If you’re stressing, feeling burned out, anxious or even just suffering from boredom, take a few moments out to STOP and allow EVERYTHING to drop away. Then pay attention, breathe mindfully and relax. Doing this daily can bring many benefits.
- 5 A Day – Eating healthily is an obvious way to practice kindness to your body and mind. So, if you can, try to consume at least 5-pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. PLUS, fruit and veg are YUMMY!
- Don’t forget to play – This is something we can easily allow to slip away as adults. Whether it’s a board game, sports, finger painting or even having a good old pillow fight– have some fun!
- Watch your self critic – Is your inner voice a harsh task master? Do you regularly berate yourself for failing in some way? You are only a sensitive and vulnerable human being, just like the rest of us are, so please be gentle with yourself as much as you can. Maybe even begin to offer yourself some praise to give a little balance to any ongoing, negative inner dialogue?
- Volunteer – Amazingly, one of the best ways to improve our state of mind and general outlook on life is by helping others. This is surely a win-win!
- Say no – Give yourself permission to say no to doing things that make you unhappy and yes to the things you’d rather do instead.
- Act on what you need and not what you want –You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
- Forgive – At some point (soon) you might want to consider beginning the process of forgiving yourself AND forgiving others – It’s all in the past isn’t it? Gone, Done. Unchangeable. Do you really want to take your grudges to the grave?
- Please Stop hating your body – Why? Because you are a unique and amazing once-in-eternity expression of the Universe’s brilliance. The universe did NOT get it wrong.
- Exercise – Even if it’s just regular walks. One of the most effective ways of being kind to your mind and body is exercise. BUT…STOP doing exercise that doesn’t make you smile or laugh! Go roller skating or dancing or trampolining instead! Life’s too short to choose misery. ‘No pain, no gain’ only goes so far.
- Give hugs – Lots of hugs. For every one you give, you get one back also!
- Disconnect – Every now and then it is freeing to stop communicating via the Internet or playing with our phones. Even if we NEED these tools for work etc, there will be opportunities to put technology down for a while and simply be with what is happening right in front of you.
- Listen to Your Body – Many of us are so busy and preoccupied, that we have, to some degree, lost connection with our own bodies. Should we experience any aches or pains, instead of reflecting on what these pain ‘messengers’ are trying to tell us, we tend to automatically medicate them away or even totally ignore the symptoms. Tragically, people will often do nothing about potentially serious symptoms of disease until it is too late for a cure. Our bodies carry ancient wisdom and if we can only find more time to listen deeply to this, we will surely realise a greater sense of well-being.
- Accept compliments – If someone says something nice to you or about you, rather than deny what they said, graciously thank them for their kindness.
- Sleep – How much sleep do YOU need to feel truly rested and at your best to face the challenges of the day? Are you getting this required amount of sleep every 24-hours, regularly or rarely/never? How do you actually feel, physically and mentally, if you have not slept well or for long enough? Are there any habits, routines or unaddressed ‘issues/questions/concerns’ in your life that are interfering with your body’s need for sleep? Can you bring wise and gentle attention to your current sleeping habits, making sure you are kind to yourself?
- Stop complaining – It rarely helps and who’s listening anyway?
- Get emotionally honest – Let go of numbing your feelings.Shopping, eating, and drinking/drugs are examples of avoiding discomfort, sadness, and pain. Mindfully breathe your way through your feelings and emotions. Explore what is there inside you and meet it with warmth and acceptance. If you can’t work this out alone, see point 21.
- Have that difficult conversation – You’ve been holding it in too long. Bite the bullet, take a deep breath, & tell the truth. Be gentle but honest. No one can predict how they’ll react, but it doesn’t really matter. The time has come. Say it, & move on.
- If you need help, ask for it – Whatever it is you’re going through now, be sure that many others, just like you, have been through exactly the same experiences before, & come out the other side in one piece. Ask them for guidance.
- Mindful Eating – Chew your food slowly, focusing on each bite and flavor whilst also being aware of the (hopefully healthy) nourishment you’re offering yourself.
- It’s okay to cry – Grant yourself permission here and now to sob when your heart is hurting. Crying is completely natural, stress-relieving and usually makes us feel a bit better. If you’re a man reading this, please read this point again. Then read it once more.
- Flowers – Buy or gather some flowers for yourself and place them somewhere you will see them regularly.
- Walk tall – and look the world right in the eye. Lift your head as you walk – and SMILE as you go!
- Practice gratitude – regularly allow yourself a few moments to close your eyes and think on the great things you do have in your life.
- Me time – Make a date with yourself. Make sure you get time that is free of other people’s plans. So, no agenda, just you doing (or not doing) whatever it is you want.
- Laugh – Laugh lots. Laugh loudly. Laugh regularly. Laugh till you have a river of tears running down your cheeks and your tummy is aching. Whatever it is that makes you laugh like that…get/do/see more of it.
- Eat your favorite food – Make a tasty meal or maybe even take yourself out to dinner to eat in the peaceful company of YOU.
- Be who you really are – Be crazy. Have a Mohican. Dance in public. Practice not being afraid of what others think. In truth, most people are thinking about themselves and their own lives anyway. People don’t think about you or judge you nearly as much as you might suspect. Just. Be. You.
- Gut instinct – Learn to listen to the timeless intuition that every one of us possesses. Look for signs or warnings and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll often hear two inner voices when you are thinking an issue through. The quiet, subtle voice is your instinctive, wiser self; the louder voice is usually your ego. (Almost) always go with the quieter voice.
- Stop trying so hard to control things – Life is mostly unpredictable. NO-ONE knows what will happen an hour from now, and NO-ONE can make everything happen in the way they want. Things just happen don’t they and all we can do in truth is deal with them, as best we can, moment by moment. The greater we’re able to gently surrender to this truth, the greater the peace of mind we will realise.
- Express yourself – perhaps in a diary, a blog, through music or even short stories. Everyone has a creative side. Letting it out can do you the world of good and even help you to widen your circle of friends!
- Clothes – Wherever possible wear the clothes you feel most ‘you’ in.
- Consider minimising the time you spend with difficult People – Are there people in your life who refuse to respect your boundaries or are regularly unfair/abusive/rude/hurtful/angry/manipulative/aggressive towards you? If so, then it’s probably time to consider how the relationship is affecting you and whether you can improve things. If not, you might even have to say some goodbyes. Sometimes people just can’t get along, no matter what, and even partners and best friends can change. It’s sad, but it’s true.
- Apologies – Where you have gone wrong, don’t hesitate to apologise and make amends. Being human means that you will be wrong or do wrong to others. It’s that simple. However, don’t go too far and get into the habit of saying sorry for things that are not your fault.
- Perspective – When bad things next happen to you, instead of asking, “why me”, ask yourself “what is my lesson here”?
- Being liked – No matter who you are or what you say or do, not everyone is going to like you. Knowing this can save you wasting a lot of time and effort. Often, with a little introspection, we recognise that we are behaving in ways that are solely designed to impress others when, perhaps, we could be doing something far more beneficial.
- Massage – Treat yourself to one, just because.
- Speak the truth – It’s not always possible, or even wise/kind, to be completely, 100% honest, however, if you’re truthful, life is easier and far less complicated.
Do you lovely people have any other self-kindness tips? Please share!
Please also see 40 Simple Ways to Practice Kindness