10 Ways To Be Kinder To Your­self

Live a happy life

Prima (UK) - - Contents -

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)

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