11 Ways To Be Kind To Yourself
The thing I remind my clients most often is to be kind to themselves. We are the most important person in our lives. Misinterpreted that may sound narcissistic, but it’s not. The thoughts we have about ourselves are grossly more important than the thoughts other people have about us. Instead of improving the way we think about ourselves we become preoccupied with what others might be thinking of us.
It hurts to be judged, but as a culture we tolerate the judgement. Talk show hosts, politicians, and reality stars spew judgment and negativity, and we watch it. We make fun of celebrity fashion choices, we use dating sites where we make huge assumptions based on a few images, and people still buy tabloids.
So I’m not really surprised that we treat ourselves so poorly when I look at the way we treat others. I think our support of negativity (even at times “playful” negativity, the kind where we make it seem like it’s in good fun but it’s really at the expense of another) is due to our lack of self love.
Most of us are not very nice to ourselves. We put ourselves through mental bootcamp. Nothing we do is good enough.
If we take a break we think about how lazy we are or what else we should be doing with our time. Relaxation becomes essentially nonexistent because we don’t actually allow ourselves to ever relax. Our bodies speak to us all the time, and we ignore them, choosing instead to do what our minds tell us to.
The good news is that we can change this, and it’s actually not too difficult. You can actually train your mind to do what your deeper self, or even your rational mind, knows is best.
Being kind to yourself raises your vibration.
It changes the way you feel about yourself which influences every aspect of your life. It will change your relationship to your own life, to others, and to life itself. Being kind changes your brain chemistry. It affects your stress levels. It leads to a happier, healthier life.
Here are some ways to get started on being kind to yourself:
- Write positive affirmations all over the place.
Our minds are extremely powerful. The things we say to ourselves influence our health and well being. The Reticular Activating System is the part of the brain that makes sense of the world. It literally only allows us to see what we believe. So if you don’t believe you are an incredible soul worthy of a deeply fulfilling life than you’re never going to be that person. You have to allow yourself to believe it for you to have a chance of seeing it.
If You're Struggling Here: If you’re having trouble with this one write down things you would say to the person you love the most in this world when they need a pick me up, then use them for yourself.
- Nourish your body.
Eat things that make your body feel good, not what you think you’re supposed to eat. We put too much focus on what we think. How do you feel? When I eat clean foods I tend to feel really light and fresh afterward. Heavy, greasy or processed foods tend to weigh me down or create uncomfortable feelings in my body. But when I eat food that’s not considered healthy (like the donut I just had for breakfast) I send love into every bite. I don’t guilt myself or create ideas about what the food is going to do to me. When you honor your body and your life experience (which means sometimes enjoying a really delicious donut) you feel good.
If You're Struggling Here: If you’re not sure what foods make you feel like start a food journal for a week and pay attention.
- Move your body.
While your body may not feel like moving, it will thank you after you do. But don’t go to the gym if you hate the gym. Don’t go to yoga if you can’t stand yoga. Find something you love and do that. You might have to try a few things first. It’s important to find something you like so you stick with it, but it's also important to pick something you like because you deserve to like it. This is your life. Make it what you want. But rest assured, no matter what you choose, if you move your body there is a payoff. Lots of happy chemicals are released when you exercise. So get happy.
If You're Struggling Here: See number 6.
- Focus on deep, slow breathing.
When your diaphragm moves down into the belly it massages the vagus nerve which activates our parasympathetic nervous system. This is how we chill out. Our lives are more stressful than they’ve ever been so focusing on deep, slow breathing will help soothe your nervous system.
If You're Struggling Here: Set an alarm to go off 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, evening) that says Breathe.
- Sleep, people!
I can't stand the way our culture views sleep. Sleep is not dispensable. You can’t catch up on it. All sleep is not created equal. Studies have shown nurses who work night shifts have a higher incidence of cancer and heart disease. We heal when we sleep at night. So go to bed before midnight and get 7–9 hours of sleep, whatever your body needs.
If You're Struggling Here: Commit to no screens after 9pm and do something relaxing before bed like taking a hot bath or doing some gentle yoga.
- Dance in your bedroom.
Dance in your bedroom or where no one will see you. Be free. If you begin judging yourself get even crazier with your body movements. Smile. Laugh. Play. Have fun.
If You're Struggling Here: Put in my Wake Up and Move playlist and just move. Now.
- Make art.
Whatever that word may mean to you, do it. Get away from technology, and use your hands. Let your creative juices flow. Do it for no reason aside for the sake of making something.
If You're Struggling Here: Hang out with a kid.
- Go into nature.
Breathe fresh air. Sit amongst the trees. Make a garden and get your fingernails all grimy with dirt. Being in nature reconnects us to our spirit. It grounds us. It's one of the most important things we can do to feel alive again.
If You're Struggling Here: If you don't live somewhere where nature is readily accessible get some indoor plants and care for them.
- Buy some plants and put them everywhere.
Plants help filter the air (especially important for city people!), and they feel great to have around. I’ve got greenery in every nook and cranny of my studio.
If You're Struggling Here: If houseplants don't do it for you start an herb garden or a small indoor lemon tree.
- Give yourself what you need.
This is my favorite, and it’s one that requires some habitual unraveling to do well. I used to get stuck doing the things I though I was supposed to do. I would create a routine that worked, and then I'd fail to realize it wasn't working anymore. Listen to what you need. Allow it to be something different than it was the day before if that's what feels right.
If You're Struggling Here: If you find yourself disconnected from your body and stuck in your head download my Breathwork instructions.
- Let yourself feel everything.
Ignore what your mind thinks you should feel or not feel and let yourself feel it all. This means you have to express your feelings in a safe way. Cry. Yell into a pillow. Jump up and down. Let. It. Out. This is kindness, even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment.
If You're Struggling Here: Notice what you're doing to numb your pain. Awareness is the first step. Common vices are TV, talking, sex, food, alcohol, drugs.
Here are two rules to use when being kind to yourself:
- Ignore every negative thing your mind says about you or what you’re doing.
- Commit to your kindness. If you’re going to sleep, let yourself sleep. Don’t think of something and then turn on the computer and start working. If you’re going to make art, let yourself get lost in it. If you’re worried about time set an alarm and let yourself go completely during that time. The alarm will tell you when you’re done.
What ways have you shown yourself kindness? Let me know in the comments below.
Getting started with breathwork
The kit I created to help you begin your Breathwork practice. It includes 3 guided Breathwork meditations, an ebook about how Breathwork heals, an FAQ, and a series of printables for a 30-day Breathwork challenge.