What is the key to happiness? There are many external factors which can influence the way we feel. And that can be a challenge, as by their very nature we do not have control over them. What we do have control over, and what can also make a huge difference to our wellbeing, is to simply be kinder to yourself.
Be Kinder To Yourself
We are often guilty of being harsher to ourselves than others. Of being our own worst critic and of being unkind where we would be forgiving and supportive to a friend. But if you’ve treated yourself as second best for so long, how do you begin to be kinder to yourself?
Make Space For Me Time
With to do lists heaving at the seams, work, social commitments, caring responsibilities, and more, we can feel a lot of pressure on our time. The first step is recognising that me time isn’t an indulgence. It’s an essential step in safeguarding your energy and wellbeing.
Don’t be shy about scheduling in time to do what you love. Whether that’s painting, reading the latest bestseller, fitting in a yoga session, or wrapping up warm and taking the dog for a long walk. Even if you just choose to do nothing, it’s not a waste. Think of it as a date with yourself, and one not to be broken.
Recognise Your Achievements
If a friend or family member achieves something great, we are usually quick to praise them and spur them on to even greater things. But when it comes to our own achievements? Modesty goes too far when it comes to telling ourselves to downplay and minimise how far we have come. Try being more conscious of the self-defeating thoughts you have. Stop yourself and rephrase your internal dialogue to be more like what you would say to a friend. It is amazing the power this change to our stream of consciousness can make.
Travel For Your Soul
One of the great ways you can care for yourself and your spiritual wellbeing is also to take opportunities to travel and see the world as they come up. Experiencing different cultures and ways of life is hugely important for expanding your horizons and bringing you insights about yourself.
Travelling doesn’t have to be about the fastest airplanes or five star accommodation, either. Sometimes you can keep it simple and have the best experience. Visiting a different town and eating in a new restaurant counts as travel in my book. When you think like this, it’s easier to achieve your goals and, in turn be kinder to yourself.
Nourish Your Body
We all know about healthy eating for the sake of our waistlines, but what about eating for the sake of our wellbeing? This approach is not about restricting and counting calories. It’s about choosing more of the good warming, nourishing foods your body needs at this time of year. Warming curries, spicy butternut squash soup, hearty stews and slow-roasted root vegetables. Show your body kindness and gratitude by nourishing it with the nutrients and the vitamins needed to sustain your health during the colder months.
Let Go Of The Perfection Myth
The idea of having things ‘perfect’ is one that is quite deeply embedded in our culture and our personal psyches. I feel it’s a very damaging concept, for the simple fact that it doesn’t actually exist. Measuring ourselves against an illusory standard means that of course we will find our own lives lacking. In fact, if we did have a perfect life, it would be a kind of death, because no further progress or experience would be possible.
Telling ourselves that we should have the perfect home, family time or career can be dangerous. It’s often used as a form of procrastination, to avoid actually taking action that might result in improvements – the task is simply too huge to contemplate. Aspiring to the perfect life is like reaching a bar, which keeps getting higher and will leave us permanently dissatisfied. So the best course of action is to accept that the idea of perfection is a nonsense.
Be kinder to yourself – stop striving for the impossible. Set achievable goals. Instead of wishing for an immaculate home, work on a room at a time. Don’t create a 4 page long daily to – do list. Choose the most important items. The none essential jobs will still be there tomorrow, and nobody will die if you don’t get round to bleaching the bathroom every other day.
Prioritise Your Sleep
Sleep is the foundation of a healthy physical and mental state, so getting in some quality shut-eye should be a priority for everyone. A significant proportion of adults suffer from insomnia, and an epidemic of sleeplessness seems to be sweeping the globe. This is largely due to our always-on, 24 hour lifestyles. Get serious about your sleep by taking steps such as putting up blackout blinds. Consider investing in curtains to block out the light, and banning blue-light emitting phones and tablets from the bedroom. You could try things like taking a hot bath or using an aromatherapy diffuser to relax you, too.
Take Responsibility Where You Need To
The ability to lay full claim to our own actions and fully absorb the consequences of them is actually a way to gain better mental health. We have become entrenched in a victim culture, finding endless ways to deflect blame and excuse our own actions. No matter how many bad hands life has dealt you, how you choose to respond is your choice.
We can’t control what happens in our lives, but we can control our reactions. Too many people allow themselves to feel disempowered – a victim of circumstance – and that traps them. Choose to own your life and you’ll have a very different experience.
Live Your Dreams
Once you have learned to be kinder to yourself, you’ll know never to doubt your own dreams. You won’t dismiss what you want to do as wishful thinking. Instead, you’ll take action to turn your dreams into a goal that you can work towards. You can then make progress by breaking the goal into achievable steps. Honour your dreams and you do yourself the ultimate kindness.