It’s ridiculous how we push ourselves. Always running to the next appointment on our calendar and scheduling activities for the benefit of others.
Over the course of time, your productivity starts to dip along with your mood. As resentment builds up and your energy drains, you look in the mirror and think to yourself: Why am I doing all this?
I recently wrote about the power of kindness and how being kind to others holds restorative powers. To keep it simple, kindness is nothing more than showing love and affection to another and not expecting anything in return.
While many of us think about the construct of kindness as something we show to others, few of us conceptualize this as a behavior we can reflect back to ourselves.
What follows are 7 simple ways you can be kind to you.
1. Be OK with doing nothing
In our culture, we have become inculcated to believe that in order to be considered a person of worth, we must constantly be busy. I am here to tell you that this kind of thinking is simply wrong.
The truth is all of us need time to unplug from the world so that we can calm our thoughts and turn off the constant “buzz” of everyday life. If you want to kind to yourself, learn about finding the hidden something in the nothing.
2. Don’t power up your phone
Do you have your phone attached to you like an appendage? Do you look at that tiny electronic screen the moment you wake up – before you even have your first cup of coffee? Do you become frantic if you can’t get a good wireless connection? I want you to ask yourself: why?
What would it be like to wake up in the morning with self-kindness in mind and allow yourself to meditate? Imagine how not letting the outside world invade your thoughts might leave more room to focus on gratitude?
3. Create a simple to do list at night
An easy way to inject a quick dose of self-kindness into your life is to create a simple to do list that outlines your deliverables for the next day. The act of creating the list itself is loaded with benefits, including higher productivity and better time management.
Your list doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple piece of notebook paper will do just fine. Here’s the deal – you need to put at least one item on your list that is wellness related. Examples include the gym or 30 minutes of mindful yoga.
4. Get outside during work breaks
Are you stuck in the rut of eating at your desk? Do you sit in front of your computer and scarf down chips while surfing the Internet? Have you noticed you are developing a muffin top?
Work breaks mean exactly that – a break from work. Why are you chaining yourself to desk like that? What would it be like if you committed for at least one week to steer clear of your workspace during lunchtime and take a kindful walk? Imagine what it would be like if you packed a healthy snack to take with you?
5. Spend some time with your dog
Do you have a dog? Probably more so than any other creature on earth, dogs provide unconditional love. Sure, you might have to bribe them with a treat from time to time but you get the point.
When you think about it, dogs are also the ultimate masters of self-kindness. They are constantly being good to themselves by showing love to others and receiving it back in return. And so one easy way to be kind to yourself is to spend 30 minutes with your furry little friend each day and simply “be” with them. You’ll learn a lot and also feel amazing at the same time.
6. Say no to something each day
This tip on self-kindness is not easy, particularly if you are accustomed to saying yes everyone and everything. What I encourage clients to as a way of easing into this kindful activity is to start off small.
Pick one thing a day that you can say no to. Examples include making the conscious choice to not answer your phone or not immediately responding to email. The kindful take-away here is that when you say no to others, you are actually saying yes to yourself.
7. Eat a kindful meal
This final tip is one that focuses on wellness. Many of us are so rushed for time that we limit ourselves to junk food options. We already know that for those who suffer from depression or anxiety, fast food can often make a bad mood worse.
One simple way to be kind to yourself is to make the conscious choice to eat healthier. You don’t have to make a big production out of this either. One of the things I encourage my clients at Couples Counseling Chicago is to choose low carb, high protein food bars packed with vitamins and nutrients.
You can usually find these at most supermarkets and convenience stores. Bonus: When you combine this suggestion with point number four, you experience a kindful twofer!
Being kind to yourself doesn’t have to be super complicated. Start off small and add more activities as time goes on. Before long, you’ll likely find other ways to engage in self-kindness, like setting boundaries at work and at home.