Being kind to yourself in everyday life is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Why wait for someone else to show their kindness and love to you? Below are 5 reasons why it pays to be kind to yourself and 5 ways to make that happen.

Scroll to the bottom of the post for a short guided Kindness to Self practice.

The benefits of practising being kind to ourselves are scientifically proven, some of which include:

  1. Kindness releases feel-good hormones called serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction, happiness and well-being.
  2. Kindness eases anxiety – it helps to calm our body and mind.  Kindness reduces stress because being kind to others helps us to take a break from the stressors in our life and we can also become better equipped to handle stressful situations
  3. Kindness is good for your heart and actually affects the chemical balance in the heart by releasing the hormone oxytocin.  Oxytocin reduces blood pressure and protects the heart by strengthening it physically and emotionally.
  4. Kindness can help you live longer by reducing the risk of heart disease.
  5. Kindness can prevent illness associated with inflammation in the body including diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity and migraines.  This is because oxytocin reduces inflammation and as previously mentioned, acts of kindness trigger it’s release.

There are countless ways to be kind and to love yourself. Here are just five that you could choose to incorporate into your life:

  1. Practising mindfulness – this is an act of kindness towards yourself.  By simply paying yourself some attention and sitting with your internal world of your thoughts, body, breath and emotions, you are giving yourself the chance to notice your internal weather pattern! For example, when you’re engaging in worrying thoughts, feeling tense or entertaining the inner critic. This gives you the choice to redirect your attention away from the thoughts, soften the body, calm the mind and breathe.
  2. Ask yourself, when you are feeling frazzled or facing a challenge, “what is it that I need right now?”  This can allow you to pause, step back and act on the answer by looking after yourself and managing the challenge far more effectively.  It might simply be that you need some fresh air, to notice a few breaths and soften the body, have a cup of tea, to speak to a friend or to have an early night.
  3. Reflect on what nourishes you – have you stopped engaging in an activity that you previously enjoyed because you’re too busy or too tired?  Such as drawing, sewing, going to yoga, playing golf, seeing friends etc and see if you can start to nourish yourself again by engaging in these activities.
  4. Give yourself a break when life doesn’t quite go to plan.  It’s inevitable that we will mess up at times – that’s life.  Learn to be kind to yourself, imagine treating yourself like you would a loved one or a child who’s upset because they’ve messed up.  One way of doing this is simply laughing at yourself and having a lighter sense of humour if appropriate.  Also spending some time noticing and naming any unpleasant emotions whilst soothing the unpleasant bodily sensations with the breath too.
  5. Practice mindfulness of self compassion or kindness.  Small acts of kindness each day will start to rewire the brain from one that is self-critical and neglectful to one that is loving and kind towards yourself.  For example, simply saying kind words to yourself each day, “it’s ok”, “I’m good enough”, “I’m doing my best” etc.  Even if you don’t feel anything at first, keep on doing it.  It will be worth it.  Or maybe visualise smiling at yourself or hugging yourself.  Or perhaps imagine that your breath is saturated in kindness and as you breathe, the kindness is flowing through and softening your body.  Whatever works for you, practice being kind to yourself.

Try this four minute guided Kindness to Self practice.