Remember that episode of Oprah where everyone in the audience was gifted a car?
Even if, like me, you didn’t actually watch the – ‘You get a car! You get a car!’ – episode, you’re no doubt aware of it (thanks internet memes!).
The only reason I mention this is because I want to be clear from the outset that being kind to yourself doesn’t have to be a really big, amazingly grandiose gesture like this. In fact it doesn’t have to involve any great effort at all. Much gold is to be found in the little moments of life.
‘Be kind to yourself’ is something I say to people quite often – and by people I mean clients, friends, & random peeps I come across who seem a little overwhelmed and stressed out. And don’t worry, if you do encounter me out and about, I don’t generally open conversations banging on about self-kindness – there’s normally a deserving context. ☺️
Something I’ve been wondering though, is whether we’ve all become a little immune to hearing these words? Are they more often than not dismissed as a meaningless platitude? I *really* hope not.
Fingers crossed the words do still carry meaning. But then I got to thinking a little more … What does being kind to yourself ACTUALLY mean? In a world which sometimes feels increasingly hurried and hard-edged, it can seem more than a little indulgent, and maybe even a little selfish to spend time looking after ourselves. But if you don’t, who will?
Fill your cup first
It’s the oxygen mask scenario. Every safety talk you sit through on a plane prior to take off, recommends that in the event of an emergency, you secure your own oxygen mask first before helping others. The theory is sound – without firstly securing your own oxygen supply you’re not going to be in a position to help anyone else.
Self-kindness works in a similar, though perhaps less emergent way – if you don’t fill your own cup first, you won’t be able to give (your energy / time / attention) as effectively to others. When you look after yourself first (in a totally reasonable, non-selfish way), you place yourself in a far better position to offer support, love and kindness to those around you.
6 super easy ways to practice self-kindness
- Relax your rules. This is a biggie. You know all those funny little restrictions you place on yourself? … all those times you say ‘I can’t?’ That’s no way to be. As soon as you place an absolute restriction in place, you suddenly make it a big deal. Do you like chocolate? How ‘bout you just eat some? Wanna wear shorts but worried about what people may think? Screw everyone else, be comfortable.
- Be instead of do. How much of your day is spent rushing around? I get it, we’ve all got a lot of stuff on. But be sure to find at least 10 mins of dedicated time in your day to be instead of do. That means maybe just take a nap, read a book, listen to some music … anything which allows you to get out of your head and just be in the moment.
- Throw out your sandwiches. And don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you empty your fridge and pantry of delicious sandwich-making ingredients, this is about nixing sandwiched time in your day. Instead of going straight from one thing to the next, give yourself a little space between activities. After all, no one likes a squishy sandwich.
- Meditate YOUR way. Meditation need not be a strange and mysterious thing, it’s actually one of the most natural things you can do. Take the no rules approach to meditation and do it YOUR way and give yourself a little time out to relax in any way that works for you. Whether that’s reading, listening to music, or just closing your eyes to focus on your breath. A few minutes might be all that’s needed to reset the entire rest of your day.
- Connect with nature. Even if you hate camping, have an aversion to hiking and just generally dislike being out amongst the trees … connecting with nature in some way is a super nice way to feel like you’re part of the world. It could be as simple as going for a walk, hanging out with your favourite pot plant or stepping out into the yard and feeling the grass beneath your feet. Getting a bit of green into your day always helps with gaining perspective, and not feeling so wrapped up by all the minutiae of life.
- Create something. We spend a lot of our days consuming – eating, drinking, soaking up news, scrolling social media feeds … how about you balance that out with a little creative time? Doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it floats your boat. It might be drawing, colouring in, writing a story, journalling, making a meal, building a cardboard castle for your cat … whatever it is, it’s time to give back in response to all that take.
Of course this list isn’t intended to be prescriptive, there are lots and lots of other little ways to be kind to yourself – this just offers one possible starting point. Little moments and small gestures are so important, but that’s not to say I’d knock back a car if one was gifted my way. lol. 😂