Being kind to yourself is sometimes WAY harder than it should be. With so many things going on in our everyday lives and the constant stream of information that we receive through daily conversations and social media, it can be hard to be kind to ourselves through our thoughts and actions.
Below are some great ways you can start to be kind to yourself by making small life changes that can have a big impact.
One of the first ways you can be kinder to yourself is by shifting your thoughts. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the things you don’t like about what is happening around you, but taking time to think positively can greatly improve your mentality about things – including yourself.
“Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you’re belittling issues that may be happening, but learning to think in a positive way about yourself and others is a life skill that will benefit you greatly,” says Alex Chavarry, Managing Member of Cool Links. “You can start your day with affirmations and confidence boosting words to boost your self-esteem. Remind yourself of these things throughout the day when you might start to feel down.”
Schedule “Me Time”
So many of us lead busy lives. We’re so connected with each other all the time through texting, social media, video calls, and other means that it can be really hard to enjoy time that is truly “me time”. Try scheduling even a few hours of time for yourself each week to be kind to yourself and allow you to refresh your mindset for the rest of the week.
“Put away your phone and any other contact with the world and enjoy time to yourself,” says Corey Ashton Walters, Founder & CEO of Here. “Make yourself tea and read a book, go for a walk, paint a picture, or relax in a bubble bath. Take time to be alone with yourself and your thoughts.”
Being kind to yourself means understanding your own values, limits, and standards. There may be times where you can’t make it to an event or spend time with a friend because you need that “me time” we just discussed – and that’s okay. Learn to be kind to yourself by setting and sticking with your boundaries.
“Stretching yourself thin or running yourself into the ground every week is not being kind to yourself,” says Dan Potter, Managing Director and CEO of CRAFTD. “Make sure you set boundaries for your time and energy that you’re putting into your work, relationships, and other activities each week. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to a plan or meetup if you’re running out of time to take care of yourself too.”
Process Hard Thoughts
Because we live such busy lives, it can be difficult to set aside time to process hard thoughts, feelings, or emotions that pop up. However, pushing these things down and avoiding them can make life more difficult until that processing happens. If you need to take some time to process hard thoughts – whether they’re new or decades old – do it.
“Learning to work through the things that are holding you back isn’t a walk in the park,” says Karim Hachem, VP of eCommerce of La Blanca. “Processing these hard thoughts or experiences that can affect things in our daily lives may require a mentor or a counselor’s assistance, but being kind to yourself means allowing yourself time to process these things so you can work toward healing. There’s so much more awareness of this need in society today than there has been in decades past, but that doesn’t make it any easier to ask for help or even acknowledge that these things are there.”
Take time to smell the flowers. Be grateful for the things you have in your life that are going well. This can be an excellent grounding technique when you’re feeling like life is spiraling or things just aren’t going your way. Be kind to yourself and think about all of the good you’ve accomplished in life and the good things that surround you.
“When life starts to get you down, it can be easy to forget that good things are all around us. Look at the beauty of nature, the roof over your head, the clothes on your body, and be grateful for the things that you do have,” says Natália Sadowski, Director of Aesthetics at Nourishing Biologicals. “Being grateful does not mean you’re discrediting a stressful event or situation, but it can help ease the anxiety or stress that you’re feeling and decreasing those feelings is a wonderful way to be kind to yourself.”
We can be our own worst critic. Learn to forgive yourself and move on from mistakes you’ve made. Often, we feel shame over something we’ve done long after apologizing or fixing a mistake. It’s important to learn how to forgive yourself and give yourself a bit of a break – we’re all human after all.
“We often let our own shortcomings bring us down,” says Sara Adam Slywka, Co-founder and CMO of Nestig. “But knowing how to forgive yourself and move on from something you feel you should have done better or shouldn’t have done at all can be liberating. You can’t walk around with that weight forever, so learn what you need to do to move on from that thing that’s holding you back.”
Live in the Moment
We live in a society that’s always looking for new trends, new things to do, and new things to share on social media. Learn to live in the moment and you’ll find yourself enjoying the little things a lot more frequently.
“Remember, as a child, how even the smallest things – a trip to the park or a special dessert – made our entire day because we only knew how to live in the moment? Relearning how to do this as an adult can be tricky because we have so many responsibilities and other things on our mind,” says Patricio Paucar, Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer at Navi. “Consciously allowing yourself to live in the moment and get excited about the little things is a great way to be kind to yourself.”
Stop Comparing Yourself
This one is HARD. We’re brought up in a world where you’ve been compared to others from your first day on earth. Did you take your first steps or say your first words on time? Did you keep up academically through grade school? After high school graduation, did you go to college? Enter a stable relationship? Did you buy a car? Purchase your first home? Start a family? It seems like there’s always a “next step” that we’re expected to reach, but these expectations can leave people feeling like they’re failing when they’re actually thriving.
“Stop comparing your life journey to others,” says Leo Livshetz, Founder and CEO of UnHide. “No two people are meant to walk the same path. The world would be a very boring place if that were true. Instead, start looking at your own life goals. Are you doing the things you need to do to make it to YOUR next step? If you’re confident about your goals and your place in life, it doesn’t matter if you’re following a traditional timeline. Some of the most successful people in the world didn’t go to college, didn’t get married, didn’t have a dream job in their 20s, or didn’t have kids. Those things should not be a standard – so be kind to yourself and stop comparing your life’s milestones to the milestones of others.”
Mindset seems to be a big part of being kind to yourself and making a few small changes can make a big difference in how we are kind to ourselves. Learning to think positively, be grateful, and live in the moment can help you be kind to yourself by retraining our brains to look for those things in life that make us happier.
There are also things you can do to change your habits to be kind to yourself. Learning to set boundaries and enforce them in your daily life can be a challenge, especially if you’ve not been great at upholding them in the past, but they can make a huge difference in the long run.
Another way to be kind to yourself is to allow time to process hard thoughts and feelings. These may be recent things or events in your past may never have been processed. Take time to process these on your own or with help if you need it.
Finally, living in the moment and allowing yourself to be excited about the little things in life and the milestones you’ve set for yourself instead of constantly thinking about what you have to do next or what others are doing with their lives based on what you see on social media can be a refreshing way to be kind to yourself.