10 Ways To Be Kinder To Yourself
Live a happy life
1 DITCH SELF-PITYING REMARKS ‘It’s not fair… I’m not good enough...’ It’s all too easy to put yourself down when you’re fed up, but give yourself the credit you’d give your best friend if she did a good job. If I’m feeling sorry for myself, I think of an aspect of my life I am doing well in. I don’t have a partner at the moment so, rather than dwell on what I don’t have, I say that it means I have total freedom to do what I want. I’ve booked a solo trip to a women’s retreat abroad in the new year for some me-time. Many people focus on what’s going wrong in their lives and miss the chance to celebrate what’s going right, so find the positive in everything. Compassion – not self-pity – is the key.
2 FORM NEW HABITS No one I know likes change – including me – but forming new habits is easier than you think. Instead of trying to cut things out of your life, introduce new habits into it. For instance, if you want to lose weight, start by drinking more water, eating more vegetables and going for regular walks with a friend rather than thinking about all the foods you can’t eat. I wanted to cut down on alcohol. Instead of banning it, I chose elderflower cordial as a treat after a stressful day instead of a glass of red wine. It’s the ‘treat’ aspect that is satisfying, not the alcohol content. I saved money, cut calories, slept better and didn’t miss the fuzzy head in the morning.
3 MAKE A DOABLE TO-DO LIST To-do lists give you structure and can ease anxiety – but many people write a long list that’s impossible to achieve, which leaves them feeling like a failure. Break it into bitesize chunks. I have a daily list of things that need to be done (and sometimes write down anything I’ve already done, too, just so I can cross it out); a weekly list of ‘life-min’, such as banking; and a life list of things to achieve, such as household projects or booking holidays. Crossing things out gives me a sense of achievement and motivates me to do more.
4 SAY GOODBYE TO BAD FRIENDS Sometimes we outgrow a friendship or realise that a pal isn’t as supportive as we’d like. Your time is precious and you deserve to be surrounded by people who lift you up. I had to break up with a friend after a disagreement ended with her shouting at me. I deserved to be treated better, so I emailed her and said I needed to take some time out from our friendship. While I miss the friendship we had, sometimes you have to have the self-respect to walk away.
5 ACCEPT YOUR BODY AS IT IS Take a moment to think about all the amazing things your body does on a daily basis: the breath in your lungs, your heart pumping blood round your body and the energy you have to play with your kids! We’re so much more than a few extra pounds, a smattering of cellulite and some stretch marks. Don’t define yourself by so-called flaws. Our bodies are remarkable and we should tell ourselves we’re unique and beautiful every day.
6 TAKE A TRIP WITHOUT KIDS
Once you become a mum, you barely have the chance to go to the loo in peace. Ditch the guilt, call in the babysitter and enjoy a day – or a weekend – away with your partner or friends. It’s important to make time for yourself, plus it sets a great example to your children, too.
7 AVOID MAKING COMPARISONS We’re all guilty of comparing our lot with others – whether it’s with the next-door neighbour or friends on Facebook. But comparison can leave you feeling anxious, jealous and frustrated. Next time you catch yourself weighing up your life against someone else’s, make a conscious effort to stop. People often share their ‘best lives’ on social media and keep reality offline. We never know what goes on behind our friend’s front door, so comparing yourself to what may seem a perfect life is pointless. Appreciate what you do have – you’ll be happier for it.
8 LEARN TO SAY NO This is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness to please others – you’ll only end up resenting them and being annoyed with yourself. It’s not the word ‘no’ that offends people, it’s the way in which you deliver it; people don’t always remember what you say, but they will remember the way you made them feel. Need to turn down a favour? Try saying, ‘Sorry, that’s just not possible at the moment’ or ‘I can’t make that, but shall we try another date?’
9 BE ‘POSITIVELY SELFISH’ Making yourself happy should be a priority because your positivity will only benefit your loved ones. Schedule regular me-time to see friends, enjoy a hobby or simply have some time alone with a book. I write these things in my diary as if they are mandatory appointments that I have to keep. Stop feeling guilty about what you want to do. If you don’t put yourself first, no one else will.
10 SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES Communicate your needs to your partner – don’t expect them to read your mind. If there’s housework to do, discuss who’s doing what and when. If you need help with the children, ask for it rather than silently wishing your partner would see you’re struggling. It’s easy to romanticise what a relationship should be and then end up disappointed – it’s much easier to talk about what you want and get it.
• Kindfulness by Caroline Millington is published on 4 October (Anima)