We’re taught from a young age to treat others with kindness and compassion, but how often do we take time to be loving and kind to ourselves? The truth is, we get more than we give when we cut ourselves some slack and give our hearts some gentle love.
Showing yourself kindness is a key practice when it comes to self-love. Here are six ways to develop this mindful practice that will benefit your whole being.
1. Quit Bullying… YOURSELF
If we grown-ups were honest about our invisible friends, we’d admit that we all have one. But we’d also have to admit that the friend is actually more like a bully. Sure, this bully might have good intentions: wanting us to be physically fit or to be the best we can be at work. But the way he/she talks to us is often super nasty: “Your cheeks are chubby!” “You’re the slowest one on the team!” “You’re not doing enough!”
Start by noticing this type of negative self-talk. Seeing it as the bully that it is, rather than believing it or engaging with it, can help us move from a counter-productive place of feeling badly about ourselves to a productive place of feeling healthy, effective, and valuable
2. Always Remember, You ARE Good Enough
How often do we hold our self-worth hostage to a goal we’ve set for ourselves? “Just 15 pounds more”, “get married”, “buy the house”. Those things may or may not happen, but they don’t actually determine your worth. Try this on for size: You are good enough. Just as you are. Right now. Whisper it back to yourself. And repeat.
3. Let it Be, Let it Be… Or Let it Go ?
Ever stopped to notice how much energy you spend wishing things were different when hard moments arise? Often our very efforts to run away, hide, or problem-solve ourselves out of unpleasant thoughts and emotions makes them stick around a whole lot longer.
Next time you see this pattern coming on, try taking a back seat and simply notice the thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that arise, almost as if you’re in a movie theatre. You may be surprised at just how quickly the scene changes on its own when you don’t get sucked in.
4. Get Back to the Basics You May Have Forgotten
Are you drinking ideal amount of water? Eating 3 times a day and nourishing your body with (for the most part) nutritious and delicious food? Are you sleeping enough, moving your body daily and connecting with nature? Tending to these most basic needs helps build a strong foundation for our own well-being and helps prepare us for bringing goodness to others.
5. Practice Gratitude… EVERY DAY
Make a plan to spend a little time each day appreciating things you feel thankful for. Even if you’re not winning the lottery or landing that dream job, there’s always something – a hot shower, a warm cup of tea, a seat on the subway when it’s been a long day, or a pet’s unconditional love.
When we notice and appreciate these gifts, we feel less lonely and isolated, we experience more joy and optimism, and we bring more generosity and compassion to those around us. Our physical health also improves, as gratitude boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure.
6. Make Joyful-inducing Practices a Priority
With all of the many responsibilities we hold on our shoulders, it’s hard to find time for those activities that are simply about experiencing joy. Find a thing or two in your life that brings you joy and make it a priority.
Laugh unapologetically, treat yourself, have coffee with a friend, feel the wind in your hair, run in the woods, dance in your pyjamas, take a hot bath, have a hug with someone you love, make a delicious meal…whatever it is, allow yourself to fully enjoy it. And then, in the not-too-distant future, do it all over again.
Then rinse, and repeat.