Have You Been Kind to Yourself Lately?Posted: February 8, 2012
(For some reason, when writing this post—I could not find the time to practice self-kindness due to a heated up schedule. Just goes to show, you have to MAKE TIME for you; remember to put yourself on the top of your list today!)
When one thinks about random acts of kindness, we generally think about doing a good deed for a stranger, or someone we don’t know too well, where we don’t expect anything in return and are truly paying it forward. Or we think about doing something nice for someone we do know, out of the blue and from the goodness in our hearts—again generally with no strings attached. However, because of the nature of human relationships and reciprocity, that person who receives our kindness generally returns the favor somewhere down the road. And most relationships improve because of that. But seldom do we ever think about doing something kind for the person we know best and ought to love the most—ourselves. More often than not we are our own toughest critic, being hard on ourselves, and treating our own person more unkindly than we would treat anyone.
When you are a caregiver, it’s very easy to fall into that trap of putting your needs last and others’ first. That is why it was very important to me the day I performed 45 acts of kindness to include me somewhere in the mix. After all small acts of kindness to oneself can add up and help the days go smoother and contribute to overall happiness.
The Effects of Self-Kindness
I was curious as to how self-kindness could affect your well being scientifically. I did a Google search and found many stories and articles, with some referring to the concept as self-compassion. It seems this subject is finally getting some airplay, and even researchers are looking into it.
In one of the articles the author, Nixon, states being kind to oneself may be the most important life skill – imparting energy, resiliency, courage, and creativity. She sites research done by a pioneer in the field, Dr. Kristin Neff at the University of Texas at Austin. Neff is researching self-compassion and found that applying her own research findings saved her life when her son was diagnosed with Autism. She suggests three elements in self-compassion; 1) mindfulness—or recognizing and accepting your thoughts/feelings instead of suppressing them and bottling them up—so that you can eventually move on; 2) common humanity—or the feeling that you are not alone in your experience—others may have been through the same circumstances and survived; 3) being kind to yourself—comforting oneself and reducing future suffering. Neff states that self-compassion helps us remember we are imperfect and connected to others.
In her book, “Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind,” Neff, proposes that we all have the power to affect our own happiness, peace and well-being by changing the way we act towards ourselves. She asserts there is an association between self-compassion, happiness and positive states of well-being. We all have the ability to change our own life for the better by treating ourselves with kindness.
How to Practice Self-Kindness
Now that you’ve bought into the concept of self-kindness, you might be wondering what you can do to practice this principle and increase your happiness. I’ve come up with a list of 30 ideas—some of these are specific to women—sorry fellas. If you have a favorite act of self-kindness, please share it. I’ve also listed some references for you to go to for more information. Now… what will you do to be kind to yourself today? For me, I’m finally publishing this post!!!
30 Ways to be Kind to Yourself
- Forgive your mistakes
- Accept yourself for who you are—faults included
- Take your vitamins
- Take supplements that your diet is lacking- vitamin D, glucosamine, fish oil
- Drink more water
- Eat healthier
- Visit the dentist
- Get an annual physical
- Take a bubble bath
- Style your hair a new way
- Paint your finger and toe nails
- Create just for the sake of creating
- Say daily positive affirmations- positive self-talk
- Plant a garden
- Take up a sport
- Find your own hobby
- Take a nap or go to sleep early
- Take time off to do something that makes you happy
- Visit a friend
- See a movie
- Read a book
- Write a thank you note to yourself
- Ask for help
- Try something new
Neff, Kristin. Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. William Morrow. 2011.
Nixon, Robin. Self-compassion may matter more than self-esteem. MSNBC.COM http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43025669/ns/health-behavior/t/self-compassion-may-matter-more-self-esteem/#.TyhnqfF5mK0. May 2011.
Roser, Mary Ann. UT researcher, author says being kind to yourself is a path to happier life. http://www.statesman.com/life/health-medical/ut-researcher-author-says-being-kind-to-yourself-1462955.html?%20cxtype=rss_life. May, 2011.
Ross, Gilbert. 7 Ways to be Kind to Yourself. http://soulhiker.com/2010/03/7-ways-to-be-kind-to-yourself/. March 2010.