Why should we focus on being kind to ourselves?
Why should we focus on being kind to ourselves? It’s important because life can be stressful especially when we are juggling many different roles (employee, parent, carer, partner, colleague, friend, etc.) and life events (illness, menopause, relationship breakup, etc.).
One way to help cultivate kindness is to note down all the things you are juggling on a piece of paper or multiple pieces of paper. This is a good way of recognising the things you’re balancing – even if you’re not as ‘in control’ of them as you would want to be.
Another technique to help you tone up your kindness skills is by exploring the K.I.N.D.N.E.S.S. mnemonic. This memory aid can be used as a reminder to be kinder to ourselves and others, and is a prompt to help people focus on the key (kindness) ingredients that help build and maintain physical and mental health. The ingredients are:
- Keep learning
- Support others
So, can you treat yourself the same way you would treat a good friend? Can you practice self-care and offer yourself self-compassion and kindness? Self-care is a way of taking time out to do something for ourselves. It could be something small like writing about something we’re grateful for, it could be buying ourselves a bunch of flowers or it could be going for a mindful walk in nature.
The Kindness Workbook explores the importance of being kind to ourselves through creating a Kindness Box. This could be a place where we store photos of places, pets or people, lyrics, playlists, vision boards, mind maps, quotes, beads, soothing and calming objects, letters, fluffy teddy bears, shiny stones, a list of music that you like, a list of TV programmes that uplift you or make you laugh, pamper products and anything else that will help boost your wellbeing. Your Kindness Box will help you during the course of your kindness journey and can help in years to come, especially when things aren’t going to plan.
If you’re not a ‘stuff person’, then could you use technology such as The Self-Compassion App (which aims to help people cultivate compassion for themselves and others) or your phone to remind you to be kind to yourself? For example, could you have prompts on your phone asking: ‘what have you done for you today?’, ‘what one thing would you like to do for yourself today?’, ‘what three things are you grateful for today?’ or ‘take time for a break’.
The important thing is to treat yourself like your own best friend and create something that’s of benefit to YOU, so it can be whatever you want it to be!
Dr Elaine Beaumont (psychotherapist, lecturer and researcher) is co-author of The Kindness Workbook: Creative and compassionate ways to boost your wellbeing, The Compassionate Mind Workbook: A step-by-step guide to developing your compassionate self and The Self-Compassion App.