anastasia island, 2014, taken by mama

Yesterday I talked about experimenting with self-compassion — despite the disapproving whispers and roars of our inner critic.

Because the negative thoughts — whatever they are — don’t matter. They don’t have to drive or dictate our actions. They don’t have to rule our worlds.

We can act with kindness, no matter what we hear from our inner critic — or from others. And we can do so in small ways.

We can make small shifts in our days to be kinder to ourselves. We can make these shifts at any shape, size or weight.

We can make these shifts whether we’ve checked off all the tasks on our to-do lists — or not.

We can make these shifts at any time, anywhere.

We can make these shifts this weekend and right now.

Here are 10 suggestions to start.

  1. Practice alternate nostril breathing. It’s a whole lot easier to be self-compassionate when we’re relaxed. For me how I feel about my body and myself often takes a nosedive when I’m tense, frustrated and fatigued. In this piece, Anna gives great instructions to try alternate nostril breathing, which is incredibly calming: Using your dominant hand, “make a U-shape with your thumb and pointer finger. If you’re using your right hand, press your right thumb into your right nostril, gently closing it. Inhale through your left nostril. Next, press your right index finger against your left nostril, closing it, as you release your thumb from the right nostril – allowing yourself to exhale through the right nostril. Repeat by inhaling through the right nostril, then closing it and exhaling through the left nostril. Continue like this for at least 10 full breaths.”
  2. Say no to something you don’t want to do. For instance, say no to a gathering that doesn’t sound like fun so you can focus on what you really want to do.
  3. Say yes to something you do want to do. For instance, say yes to a coffee date with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. The laundry can wait.
  4. Participate in a physical activity solely for the purpose of pleasure — not because you “should” (as in “I should lose weight” or “I should work out because it’s almost bikini season” or “I should work off that piece of cake.”). Do an activity that makes you feel good.
  5. Figure out what your basic needs are, and focus on them. (This is an excellent tip Mara shared with me in this article.) This might mean going to bed early tonight so you can get enough sleep. It might mean drinking lots of water. It might mean eating more fruit (personally, I’m a big grump when I haven’t had my fruit for the day.)
  6. Give yourself one compliment. Just one. Compliment your smile. Compliment the meal you just made. Compliment how you interact with your family. Compliment your curious approach to life.
  7. As you lay your head on your pillow, thank your body. It could be a quick “Thanks!” or “Thank you to my legs for carrying me today” or “Thank you, arms, for giving my daughter that huge, loving hug.”
  8. Give your body a massage. Massage your hands (if they’re like mine, they’re stiff and tired from typing). Massage your neck, and your legs. Anywhere you feel tension, try to massage that area, or ask a loved one to.
  9. Eat a favorite meal. Think about what you’re craving — veggies, seafood, pasta, maybe all three — and respond to that need. Be sure to savor every scrumptious bite (i.e., really taste it).
  10. Catch your breath, and contemplate. Sit down, and think about how you’d like to spend tonight, tomorrow or Sunday. If you can’t do what you’d like the entire day because of certain responsibilities, carve out pockets of time to accommodate your wants and wishes. Remember they’re just as important and essential (if not more) as everything — and everybody — else.

Have a wonderful weekend!!