Being kind to others often comes naturally; being kind to ourselves may not. Dr Naveen Puri of Bupa runs through 10 ways you can show yourself some kindness and look after your health and wellbeing – today and beyond.
1 Talk kindly to yourself
Think about how you speak to the people you care about, and then turn that voice on yourself. Let your inner voice be a kind one rather than a harsh one that belittles you. This can help you pick yourself up if things go wrong.
2 Practise gratitude
People who notice the things they’re thankful for tend to be happier and have a greater sense of wellbeing. Think of a few of these things in the morning or before bed, then tell someone in your household or write them down. Actively focus on the positives of your day. Reframing situations and looking for the positives can help strengthen your resilience.
3 Perform acts of kindness to others
Be kind to others. Small gestures have a big impact – whether it’s smiling at someone or letting someone go in front in a queue. Doing good for others boosts your own wellbeing and helps brighten someone else’s day.
4 Reflect daily
Make time every day to give yourself some space to reflect on what’s going on for you and how you’re feeling. A few minutes to sit and think or write in a journal can help you process your thoughts and feelings and cope better.
Keeping healthy routines and rituals is an important way to look after yourself. These might be things like having breakfast, carving out some time for yourself in the day, planning what you eat, performing exercise, and doing some things you enjoy.
6 Be responsible for yourself
If a stressful or busy day tempts you to treat yourself (with alcohol or junk food, for example) – think about whether this is a healthy move to make or not. A treat now and then is fine but don’t use it as a crutch, as it can sabotage all the efforts you’ve made to look after yourself. Self-compassion comes with self-respect, not self-sabotage.
7 Invest in your interests
Do things that really align with your interests and passions. Got a creative streak? Make time for a creative outlet. Like being outdoors or doing sport? Make time for these too. These are the things that can often get pushed off your priority list, but it’s important that you don’t compromise them.
8 Practise mindfulness
Mindfulness is a way of focusing on the here and now. It can help stop you from worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, or dwelling on things from the past that you can’t change. You can mindfully do almost anything, whether it’s eating a meal, brushing your teeth, or going for a walk.
9 Spend time in or around nature
Being around the natural world can be calming, so try to make time for it. This could be greenery in your own garden, or a walk in the park. It could also be water, such as a stroll by a canal, lake or river, or better still a beach or parts of the coast.
10 Think of the opportunities
The global pandemic is understandably a cause of worry. It may help to counter these feelings if you can consider this a unique time of opportunity, too. We can reframe our perception of this time as a chance to pause, reflect and reset. Think about the things you didn’t enjoy in your life before, and what you may want to keep or change going forward.