6 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself

Welcome back Psych2Goers, and if it’s your first time here, then welcome to our website. When you tend to think about your own physical or mental health, a few key terms may come to mind. Self-love, self-care, self-reflection, all of these are wonderful terms that are synonymous with maintaining your personal wellbeing!

However, there are times where it can be difficult to take care of ourselves. We tend to blame ourselves for every little mistake, every little thing we don’t know, or even disciplining or punishing ourselves in our everyday lives. Maybe this has become more noticeable lately for you. You tend to feel that the most pressure, burnout, and high expectations are coming from yourself more than anyone else. 

Maybe you’ve heard of the old saying, “There’s nobody to blame but yourself”. While this saying can help us develop discipline or responsibility, it isn’t a good standard to live by all of the time. You may just notice that the greatest kindness and pampering that you might feel you need, may just come from you, out of all people!

With that being said, here are 7 ways to be kinder to yourself.

1. Go for a walk, clear your head!

Have you had any time outside as of late? Maybe you are caught up with things such as chores, working from home, or running errands that you forget to take time for yourself to go outside, or do something that helps you clear your head. Going for walks to your favorite restaurants, places, or even your favorite nature trail can help significantly with anxiety and stress!

If you’re pushing yourself extraordinarily hard as of late, you may owe it to yourself that destressing opportunity.

An enormous part of showing yourself kindness is ensuring that you are giving yourself the time you need to step away and recharge. If you’ve ever been forced to finish a huge project or job when you really didn’t feel like it, then you may be able to understand when you’re forcing yourself to do something when you just aren’t up to the task. Exposing yourself on a nature walk has been shown to have incredible effects on mental health, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (Nature: How connecting with nature benefits our mental health, 2021). 

Choosing a nature walk, park, or outdoor space that you truly enjoy is the perfect opportunity to reduce stress and anxiety! If you tend to feel bunched up inside, choose your favorite outdoor scene to visit. Maybe you love watching the sunrise, but just haven’t had the opportunity to see it in a while. Alternatively, you may love to walk outside in the rain at night, or lie down and watch the stars at night! Give yourself a nature walk, it may just do the trick!

2. Identifying what you need, and following through!

Think about what you need right this very moment. Go on, think for just a minute! 

Nothing? Maybe a power nap, a little water? Really, take a moment to truly evaluate how you are right now. Maybe once you start to really focus, you notice that you feel a little tired from the other night, or that you really have been working way too hard. Have you had anything to drink? Are your eyes tired from looking at too many (hopefully Psych2Go!) videos? Then take a moment and absorb the feelings that you’re having right now, and tend to them. 

Choosing to listen to your body and doing a bit of maintenance from time to time can go a very long way, especially when you choose what you need to prioritize throughout your day, even if it’s yourself! This can help prevent burnout and help you feel ready and recharged for the things that are important to you. Making a conscious decision of what you need and learning to recharge for your priorities can help show yourself that you care enough to reach towards your goals (Villar, 2021).

3. Food, drink, and rest!

Oh come now, Psych2Goer. You probably knew that this was going to be on the list, didn’t you? We hear all the time about the wonderful benefits of having enough to eat and drink, and enough time to sleep and rest. We’re not going to bore you with the facts, but instead, tell you something you probably didn’t know about drinking water! For example, did you know that if you feel thirsty, you’re already experiencing a mild amount of dehydration (Dehydration: Causes & symptoms 2021)? Making sure that you are carrying a water bottle on you, or even just keeping it nearby if you tend to fidget or bite things when you’re focusing can be a great way to stay hydrated!

But in all seriousness, Psych2Goers, we cannot stress this enough. When we are very pressed, stressed, or feeling blue, we can tend to forget to eat, drink, and sleep on time. Try to picture a friend or family member you love not eating or drinking all day because they just… can’t seem to find the opportunity, for whatever reason. Maybe you’d bring them a snack, or remind them to pace themselves. Doing the same for your own person is a beautiful sign of self love.

4. Taking breaks from the stressful events

Have you ever forcefully been pushing yourself towards a deadline? Cramming for a test? There’s only so many hours in a day, but if you use all of them to focus on studying, on memorizing, maybe, just maybe…!

Well, maybe not! If you’re performing repetitive tasks over and over again, such as studying concepts, other languages, or most sorts of activities that require you to sit down and repeat or problem solve, you may find that your ability to retain this information will fade quicker than if you spaced the tasks out over extended periods of time (Smith & Scarf, 2017)! Instead of taking a huge five hour study session, try to take multiple hour long sessions throughout the day to help improve your ability to learn and remember new skills!

The spacing effect has a wide variety of situations that it can be implemented, so maybe try to decide against pushing the all nighters. Sometimes, waiting until morning to fix a problem can help you approach it from a fresh and unique angle. Space yourself!

5. Rewarding yourself for a job well done!

Find yourself feeling a little empty when you finish tasks you set out to do? Maybe you tend to finish difficult tests, assignments, or projects, yet, you feel more relieved than accomplished once they’re finally done. Generally speaking, when we complete tasks and we feel a wave of relief flow over us, it’s because we’ve just completed an objective that was difficult or otherwise challenging. When we tend to be hard on ourselves, turning experiences that should be good into an experience that’s just… expected of us, you may find yourself less excited to complete tasks. Reward systems can work wonders!

If you’ve finished a project you’ve been working on for weeks, or a routine that you’ve been trying to file, take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back. It’s OK to be proud of accomplishments both big and small! The next time you do something that you’ve been meaning to do, celebrate with your favorite, song, game, snack, or some short celebration! Congratulate yourself in the same way that you would congratulate someone that you love!

6. Forgiving yourself and moving forward

Haven’t we all done something that we’ve regretted before? Whether it’s missing out on an opportunity, accidentally hurting someone you love, or even just forgetting to take care of your own responsibilities, you might find yourself looking for an outlet to place the blame. When there’s nobody around, and nobody to blame, we tend to default to blaming ourselves. This can even lead to us insulting ourselves, our intelligence, or questioning why we are the way that we are. While self reflection and accountability is important, there is such a thing as pushing yourself too hard, or holding yourself accountable to an unreasonable standard.

If you take the time to think about the best person you know, one of your favorite and most loving people you know, then it may be a relief to know that they have made mistakes, just as you have. Whether big or small, everyone has regrets. Learning self-forgiveness is one of the most wonderful self-love tools that you have in order to help move forward. Remembering that you’re only human, and that you truly are capable of making mistakes, it does help to forgive yourself, so that you can move on, and help avoid making mistakes in the future (Villar, 2021). Show yourself the compassion you deserve!

Concluding remarks:

So, did you find ways to treat yourself nicer, gentler, or even in a more encouraging way? Treating ourselves like the enemy, or a nuisance can cause us a lot of grief and undue frustration, especially when we don’t build ourselves the foundation we need in order to improve and succeed. Encouraging yourself and showing yourself that you’re willing to be patient can go a long way. Has there been a time where you realized that being kinder to yourself actually helped improve the way you approached a situation you had to face, or improved your mental health? We would love to talk down in the comments!

As always, thank you so much for viewing this article. All of your love and support helps us make psychology more accessible to people all around the world, everyday! 

(The information in this article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional)

Further viewing:

References:

Dehydration: Causes & symptoms. Cleveland Clinic. (2021, February 16). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/9013-dehydration#:~:text=Dehydration%20is%20the%20absence%20of,%2C%20fatigue%2C%20dizziness%20and%20more. 

Mental Health Foundation. (2021, May 13). Nature: How connecting with nature benefits our mental health. Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/nature/nature-research#:~:text=Nature%20can%20generate%20a%20multitude,lower%20depression%20and%20anxiety%20levels. 

Smith, C. D., & Scarf, D. (2017, January 1). Spacing repetitions over long timescales: A review and a reconsolidation explanation. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00962/full Villar, S. D. (2021, February 17). How To Practice Self Love. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsTKyYOuK84

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