Having the ability to be kind to yourself is one of the most important life skills, especially during difficult times. It helps you to perceive the world differently, become more positive about life in general, and feel happier overall. Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself the way you would treat someone near and dear to you who is going through a hard time. All that is required to reap the benefits is starting a new practice of showing yourself kindness and caring.
7 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself
The list below includes 7 proven ways to be kind to yourself and to exercise more self-compassion for a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life.
1. Spend Time in Nature
Interacting with nature has a host of health benefits, and is one of the best ways of taking care of yourself and your mental well-being. Studies such as one from the University of Sussex, reveal the positive effects of hearing natural sounds, or even looking at a picture of a natural scene if you aren’t in close proximity to a natural setting. Immersion in a natural environment or listening to natural sounds significantly lowers stress and anxiety levels. If you have trouble sleeping or falling asleep, listening to sounds of rain falling, waves or even a thunderstorm could be all the remedy you need in order to easily get your forty winks.
2. Make Time for Yourself
Self-compassion includes taking time out every day to do something for yourself that you really enjoy doing. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes every morning or evening developing your creativity with painting, playing a musical instrument, or reading a good book. Nurturing yourself by relaxing with a favorite movie, having a picnic in the park, or taking a leisurely stroll on the beach won’t set you back financially and will allow you to make the most of every day with things that are easily accessible and enjoyable to just about everyone.
3. Appreciate Yourself
Make a daily habit of appreciating yourself and valuing who you are regardless of others’ opinions of you. Concentrate on being grateful for what your strengths, such as your love of nature, your ability to play a musical instrument, or being a good friend. Most importantly, make sure to appreciate the little things that no one else might know about you, rather than the public achievements.
4. Forgive Yourself
“The past doesn’t determine your future unless you carry it with you into the present. Forgiving yourself and others, you free the universe to begin again at any moment.”
~ Marianne Williamson
Forgiving yourself often proves to be a particularly challenging task, but is also one of the most rewarding practices. We often judge ourselves harshly and criticize ourselves for something that we would much more easily forgive in a friend or family member. When you constantly find fault with yourself or have others criticizing you to serve their own needs, think about how you would speak to a friend or loved one who is in the same situation. We need to show ourselves that same level of kindness and forgiveness while knowing that once we realize how to behave better, we will do better.
“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you filter it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.”
~ Gautama Buddha
Meditation is a practice that allows you to improve your mental well-being while at the same time teaching you to treat yourself with kindness. There are such a variety of meditation applications available that is possible to choose the kind of practice that suits you best, from guided meditation sessions to harmonious sounds or just concentrating on your breathing. Meditation teaches us that the answers to all of our questions lie within ourselves, and beginning meditation practice in times of difficulty can teach us that we don’t have to go far to find what we have been seeking.
6. Be Kind to Others
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
~ Dalai Lama
The way that you respond to and behave toward others is often a reflection of the way you think about yourself and the world around you. If you become kinder to others, the kindness will have an effect on you too, making you more patient and tolerant of any mistakes that you make and finding it easier to forgive yourself. Opening a door for someone when their hands are full, allowing someone into the queue ahead of you, or being there for a friend who’s going through a difficult time are all ways of developing the practice of kindness.
7. Treat Yourself
When we feel low, the first thing to suffer is often our nutrition. We either go off food almost entirely or overindulge in a lot of high-fat comfort foods (ie fast food, microwave meals, etc.) in a bid to make ourselves feel better. Give yourself one special day per week where you spoil yourself by eating somewhere that you haven’t been before or cook a menu of all your favorite foods. And most importantly, enjoy your meal guilt-free and savor every moment.
In conclusion, we all go through low periods where we find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. But we are also the only people that we will have a daily, lifelong relationship with, so being gentle and kind to ourselves can only improve our everyday experiences. Be the friend to yourself that you wish you had in times of trouble and find the acceptance and peace that you have been searching for everywhere except the one place you forgot to look!