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10 Ways You Can Be Kinder to Yourself With Self-Care

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I have never been good at practicing self-care. In fact, I often act in the opposite way – not addressing my chronic illnesses, hurting myself and putting others before me, etc. But a big part of me as a person is my empathy, generosity, and desire to help people. But I have learned that it’s impossible to care for others if you don’t care for yourself.

Over time, I have developed my own way of practicing self-care. I first decided on two main principles:

1. Know yourself. Are you an introvert? An extrovert? Are you highly sensitive? Do you struggle with mental illness and have some specific needs? What activities do you enjoy? What sensations do you enjoy? What do you need from other people? Are those needs being met?

2. Forgive yourself. I tend to be very hard on myself. I bully myself when I make mistakes and tell myself that I’ve let everyone down. But everyone makes mistakes. There is no person on Earth who is perfect. We are all human and deserving of forgiveness.

With these principles in mind, I started thinking about ways in which I could be kinder to myself and look after my own mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. The ways in which I practice self-care are personal to me, and won’t necessarily apply to other people. Here are some ideas I’ve had:

1. Eliminate toxic people from your life. When you take a step back from a relationship and look at all the ways it negatively affects you, it’s easier to break away from it.

2. Carry a self-care kit. This could include small objects that bring you joy or hold pleasant memories, essential oils that have calming scents (like lavender, rose, and peppermint), something soft to hold, messages of kindness to yourself that you’ve written down, anything that is grounding, calming, and pleasurable.

My kit includes:

a. Sticky note with positive messages
b. Lavender essential oil
c. Some meaningful tarot cards
d. An index card with a message to remind myself to go outside and breathe fresh air
e. Some rose salve
f. A hematite healing bracelet
g. A plastic star that I’ve been carrying around forever

3. Take time to pamper yourself. I like to take special care of my hands and feet, especially since I’m diabetic. I use soaps and lotions that smell delicious, just to make myself feel good. I mean, why not? I love it when my feet smell like satsumas!

4. Learn to say “no.” I know that a lot of us tend to take on too much, wanting to please everyone and be that “go-to” person for others. I, for one, love to help people and want to be 100 percent reliable and say yes to every request. But think about that for a second. If you say yes to everything, how can you actually get all that done? It’s impossible. Worse, the quality of your efforts will decrease if you spread yourself that thin. Be honest with people. If you can do something for someone with quality and timeliness, and you have the mental and physical bandwidth for it, by all means, say “yes.” But if you honestly feel that you can’t do something that someone is asking of you, do both of you a favor and say no.

5. Practice good manners. This may seem odd as a practice of self-care, but I think it makes a difference toward one’s sense of well-being. If I know that I’ve treated everyone with whom I’ve interacted with kindness and respect, I feel much more at ease and relaxed. If I’m rude to someone, even just slightly, it bothers me to no end.

6. Perform random acts of kindness. This is a special project for me for 2018. I joined the Random Acts of Kindness website and Facebook group, I’ve signed up to volunteer for a local non-profit, and I’m finding myself glowing with inspiration with all of the amazing ideas for even small, seemingly insignificant ways to practice daily kindness.

7. Keep a gratitude journal. This could be a paper journal, a daily post on social media, a blog, or any other way you want to practice gratitude. It’s amazing how thinking about what you’re grateful for can alter your attitude and fill you up with a sense of warmth and well-being.

8. Practice meditation. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, never set aside time for. All the research I’ve read has convinced me that meditation is not only essential for self-care, but for one’s overall mental and physical health.

9. Take care of your body. This is definitely not something I am good at. I have several chronic conditions (diabetes, major depression, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome), but I still have a poor diet, no exercise regime, and I hardly ever visit the doctor. I don’t even take all my medications as prescribed. But I know it’s never too late to take control of your health. We all have one life and one body – we need to make the most of them!

10. Seek professional help if you need it. Self-care doesn’t mean that you can handle all of life’s problems all on your own. If you need help, ask for it, there is absolutely no shame in it.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to begin a practice of self-care. When we treat ourselves with kindness, our own sense of well-being and confidence grows. When that happens, we can only change the world for the better.

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Getty image by m-imagephotography

Originally published: February 8, 2018
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