- Think about your goals
Although this may not obviously link to being kind to yourself, it’s important because you need to know where you want to be in order to stay on target. Assuming that helping yourself towards your dreams is the kindest thing you can do for yourself, this step is the way to help you help yourself.
- Give yourself a treat (which leads towards your goals)
If you’re stressed, or you’ve had a hard day,or you’ve been using up a lot of your willpower lately, then at some point you may start to feel like you’ve earned some kind of reward to make up for it. You’re right, it will make you feel better and help to replenish your willpower. The key is to make sure that your treat doesn’t sabotage your previous effort. If you’re struggling with healthy eating, don’t reward yourself with chocolate. If you’re celebrating a week of no-spend days, don’t do it by going out and buying something. Figure out what things count as treats for you, while still leading you where you want to go. For myself, I like time to read, a long bath, a walk in the park or watching episodes of a favourite series. These don’t impact on my main goals of frugal living, minimalism and paleo eating. I also really like chocolate as a reward (to which regular readers will know I often succumb), but although I enjoy buying and anticipating it, I usually end up eating it quickly and mindlessly, and then wishing I hadn’t bothered afterwards.
- Give yourself time to rest
No matter how busy you are, rest is always important. During quieter times, you’re building up an energy reserve that will keep you going when you can’t get a full night’s sleep. I recommend going to bed at roughly the same time every night. It’s easy to get into a habit of watching TV late on Friday and Saturday night, going to bed when you can’t stay awake anymore (or falling asleep on the sofa) and then not feeling well-rested, even if you manage a lie-in (which has been cancelled out by those extra hours of TV watching). Look at your sleeping habits and work out how much sleep you need to feel good the next day.
- Allow yourself to do things for fun
Sometimes, when you feel extremely busy or unproductive, you don’t want to give yourself time off for fun activities, but instead feel like you should be working. However, what can then happen is that you get burned out and instead of doing a fun activity that would really relax you, you end up in a mindless activity such as watching whatever’s on TV or flipping through magazines you don’t really want to read. If that has ever happened to you, you might be better off scheduling proper breaks, even when you’re busy, and setting up a fun activity that you can look forward to. That way, you’re making the most of the time when you’re not working.
- Speak nicely to yourself
This is a tip that I’ve read in hundreds of different articles, but still find hard to internalise. The idea is to talk to yourself as you would a friend, rather than being your own harshest critic. If you get up in the morning and hate the way your hair looks, remind yourself that you have beautiful eyes. If you turn up late to a presentation, instead of saying “I was so embarrassed, everyone must have thought I’m so disorganised”, tell yourself “I’m sure no one noticed, they were busy thinking about their own business”. Encourage yourself and cut yourself some slack in the way you would do for a friend.
- Be aware of your needs
We all need different things to a different extent, and one of the best things you can do for yourself is to recognise your needs and protect them. I’m an introvert, so I need a certain amount of time alone, and find social interactions quite draining. Because of this, if I have a busy week I don’t schedule any social activities at the weekend, as I know I’ll begrudge that time later when I need to recharge. You can get caught up in “shoulds” or in doing things to keep other people happy, but you deserve to be kept happy as well! If you think about that when you’re scheduling your time, you’ll find that there’s space for what you need.