Welcome to part 4 of this little series, which was originally intended to only be one post. (What was I thinking?!) If you’d like to catch up before reading on, check these out first:
- Part 1: On outstanding people, the comparison trap and standards
- Part 2: On feedback, work and self worth
- Part 3: On finding happiness
Today’s final instalment is all about self kindness. Depending on how much you read in the self help genre, you’ve probably come across various people’s perspectives on self care, self compassion, and loving yourself. ‘Self care’ has never resonated much with me because it sounds like a chore to be done – sort of like trimming your nails and plucking your eyebrows. Instead I like to think about self kindness, which includes all of the fun, soul-nurturing things we do and say to treat ourselves well.
Back in the day of my most intense training and racing, it was very, very rare that I’d do an ‘easy’ workout. As I’ve said before, I’m a very much all-in-or-all-out sort of personality in most aspects of life, sometimes at the detriment of not listening to what my own body is trying to tell me. Call it an addiction to being super sweaty, an unwavering desire to constantly compete with myself, or just sheer stupidity, but I used to be so stubborn about running any slower than 8 miles per hour on the treadmill for fear that somehow I wouldn’t be getting as good of a workout. Not coincidentally, the word ‘recovery’ also wasn’t a part of my vocabulary at that time. It didn’t matter if I’d just finished a race the day before and therefore shouldn’t have been running again in the first place, my brain frequently tuned out what the rest of my body was saying.
As I said in the comparison trap post, we’re our own worst critics and can be absolutely ruthless with expectations on ourselves to perform in all areas of life. Those ‘you can do better’ sort of thoughts have a way of crowding out the kind and compassionate ones. Don’t get me wrong – I always have been and likely always will push myself hard to achieve goals, and the same is probably true of many of you. But what time has taught me is that all that self kindness and compassion stuff I used to talk about yet never truly do is just as important as the hard work. If we don’t do it, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to having our confidence shaken and self esteem chipped away at. Being very driven to achieve also means we can de-prioritize self kindness and run the risk of mental and physical burnout.
So how do we get on top of this? I think the first step is identifying areas where your “tank is being emptied” – negative thoughts in your head, not getting enough sleep, doing anything physically or mentally stressful, emotional stress, putting crappy food in your body…. any of these sorts of things. In reality we can’t eliminate things like occasional long work hours and challenging situations – they’re sort of inevitable! BUT what we can do is “refill the tank” frequently.
Regardless of whether the tank-emptying situation is voluntary or not, I’ve become an advocate for doing something nice for yourself every single day. It can cost you nothing or a bit of extra cash, and could be something small or more indulgent. The choice is completely yours, but consider it an investment in your own wellbeing. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel good every day. It’ll mean that you’re able to show up at your best for everyone around you, but most importantly, you’ll show up for yourself. In a world where expectations are high and masculine energy is often valued more than feminine energy, I think we could all do with a little more self kindness. Don’t you?
If you’re feeling inspired, here are 28 ideas to get you started:
- Wear an outfit a little on the dressier side than you normally would
- Blowdry and do your hair (straighten, curl, whatever) or go to a salon and get it done
- Do an at-home mani pedi or pay someone to do one for you
- Go to bed. Seriously. Even if it’s only 7pm.
- Drink a big glass of water when you get up and enjoy it – this is not a chore and you will feel more energized all day!
- Take the time to make a meal and present it nicely – even if you’re eating on your own
- Give hugs
- Buy yourself flowers (I do this regularly and it’s one of my faves on the list!)
- Write in your journal – if you’re not sure what to write about, start here. If you’re like me, this activity will involve going to Indigo, looking at all the journals, rationalizing the purchase of a new one, selecting that new one, deciding a coordinating pen is also a necessity, and then going home to write in said new journal with the new pen.
- Wake up without an alarm and/or stay in bed for an extra 1/2 hour, ideally on a weekend when there are fewer consequences for lateness!)
- Take a nap
- Splurge on the salad bar at Whole Foods
- Get a massage
- Help somebody. This is about self kindness but I promise helping someone will make you feel better and benefit them too.
- Pare down (and then potentially freshen up) your wardrobe
- Go for a walk
- Call or meet up with a friend
- Read a book. Maybe even one with real pages.
- Eat some really good dark chocolate
- Get a colouring book and some coloured pencils (or pencil crayons as we call them up here in Canada). Colour like you’re 5 years old again.
- Move your body – not a killer sweatfest that leaves you sore, but something that makes you feel good, energized and strong
- Indulge in listening to a playlist of your guilty pleasure songs. Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Spice Girls, Hanson, Lou Bega, Mariah Carey, Savage Garden, Shania Twain, Semisonic, Hootie + The Blowfish, The Goo Goo Dolls, Cher, The Bangles, Ace of Base… whatever does it for you. Bonus: now you can laugh at my guilty pleasure music, and laughter is also healthy.
- Give yourself a facial
- Make a collage (or Pinterest board) of things that inspire you
- Bake something (or no-bake something if you prefer)
- Listen to a podcast on a topic that interests you
- Make your bed with crisp, fresh sheets, just like a hotel. Pillow chocolate is optional and encouraged. Then do #4.
- Make your home smell amazing and boost your mood with aromatherapy (says the self-professed Saje junkie over here)
Alrighty, over to you. I’d love to hear…
- What’s your take on self kindness? Do you prioritize it daily?
- What are the things you like to do to recharge?