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11 ways to be kinder to yourself

In the heart of winter many people say that they feel out of sorts.

People are generally drawn to comfort foods and tend to move less. They experience more difficulty getting up and tend to be lacking in energy – to the point where even routine tasks seem like a chore. They also tend to experience a decreased ability to handle stress.

These feelings are certainly more common in people who don’t get enough rest and relaxation to enjoy life, who drive themselves hard, perceive they are under constant pressure, or who are overwhelmed by repeated difficulties.

While I’m certainly always keen to suggest nutritional and lifestyle changes, I also believe that many of us need to learn to be kinder to ourselves. We know that being kind to ourselves as an essential component of wellness.

If you’re experiencing a touch of mid-winter overwhelm, there are a number of ways you can assist yourself in getting back to your natural state. Your ability to cope and manage stress will certainly be improved if you practise great kindness towards yourself.

Here is a kindness checklist with ways to show yourself some love:

  1. Be in bed before 10pm. It is remarkable what a difference this makes to your mood, energy and clarity of thought.
  1. Sleep in whenever possible (let your family know that this is what you need at weekends) or take an afternoon nap on a Sunday.
  1. Practise a progressive relaxation technique or even better – let this lead on to meditation.
  1. Nourish yourself with high quality food – mostly plants – ensuring some protein, unrefined carbohydrates and good fats at each meal. Eat breakfast and regular meals throughout the day. Eating nourishing foods is one of the most basic ways you can demonstrate self-care.
  1. Look at life/environmental situations which may be draining you. It may be a particular person who leaves you feeling worse for coming into contact with him/her, the hours you work, a situation at home, even a noisy polluted street you walk along. Do an audit and take steps to make positive changes.
  1. Move regularly – it doesn’t have to be strenuous. Walking, stretching, gentle breathing, yoga or swimming are all great choices.
  1. Notice something each day that you are grateful for or plan something that will bring you pleasure each day. This may be as simple as reading your favourite book or watching your children sleep.
  1. Go out without your phone – it sounds silly but many of us are on “call” literally every waking second. It can be so liberating to detach for a little while, allowing yourself the space to not be easily contactable. It may also highlight just how often you use your phone out of habit.
  1. Minimise screen time – many people wake up by reading the news on their cellphone, continuing looking at it while they commute, only to spend all day looking at a computer screen. When they return from work they then switch on the TV or watch something on their laptop! Not only is too much screen time disruptive for sleep it’s not good for your sense of wellbeing either.
  1. Immerse yourself in mother nature, studies show that we feel more calm when we are surrounded by nature.
  1. Being kind to yourself often means accepting your own vulnerabilities and understanding that you are human and you will make mistakes, you will evolve and that every opportunity no matter how difficult it may feel at the time offers you the opportunity to grow.
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