How do you react when you’re faced with circumstances beyond your control or you fall short of your own expectations? This week I’ve been hit with some health news I wasn’t expecting. For me, it’s been a struggle to stay less than critical as I’m “failing” to meet all my self-set expectations as I process a major piece of news. See, I started a new project for work that is helping others, we’re in a beta test and I’m feeling guilty for not showing up at 100%.
You might be tempted to become harsh with yourself. You try to whip yourself into shape, thinking that will help you to overcome the obstacles in your way. Let me tell you, this is NOT helping me in any way this week.
In reality, treating yourself with kindness and compassion is more likely to build your resilience and clarify your thinking. Easier said than done, but slowing down and giving myself time to process as well as working to maintain my baseline is always important.
Make a list of things you can do to show yourself a little love today, starting with these ideas.
Kind Habits That Protect Your Physical Wellbeing:
1. Stay active. Exercise lowers your risk for heart conditions, diabetes, stroke, and many other serious health issues. Design a program you can do at home to train for cardio fitness, strength, flexibility, and balance.
2. Eat whole foods. Fill up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Minimize your consumption of ultra-processed foods.
3. Drink water. In addition to its other health benefits, water helps keep your eyes, mouth, and nose moist so you may be less tempted to scratch your face. Quench your thirst with plain water or unsweetened tea.
4. Sleep well. Lack of sleep can make you more vulnerable to infection and illness. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of slumber each night.
5. Manage stress. Deal with tension constructively. Find relaxation practices that work for you. Talk with your doctor if you find yourself using alcohol or other substances to manage your moods.
Kind Habits That Protect Your Psychological Wellbeing:
1. Think positive. Look on the bright side. Savor small daily pleasures. Read inspirational texts and keep a smile on your face. Remember that hardships are temporary.
2. Set goals. Add more purpose to your life by working towards realistic and challenging goals. Use specific language and put them in writing.
3. Express gratitude. Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness. Let others know how much you appreciate them and what a difference they make in your life.
4. Give generously. Focusing on others makes your own troubles seem less grim. Share your time, money, and talents. Volunteer online for a worthy cause. Ask an elderly neighbor if they need groceries.
5. Seek support. Surround yourself with family and friends who lift you up. Share your feelings. Ask for help when you need it.
6. Repeat affirmations. Use positive statements to retrain your brain and let go of doubts that hold you back. Say your affirmations out loud several times a day. Post written copies on your bathroom mirror and other places around your home.
7. Connect with nature. Green spaces have a positive effect on our emotions. Go outside for a walk as long as you’re careful about social distancing. Open a window to let in natural light and fresh air.
8. Laugh out loud. Use humor to help you through difficult situations. Watch cat videos and email funny jokes to your friends. Play with your children or fake a chuckle until it turns into the real thing.
9. Meditate daily. Develop a regular meditation practice. Create a quiet space in your home where you can sit down each day. Start out with a few minutes at a time. You can extend your sessions gradually as your power of concentration grows.
10. Live mindfully. Remain intentional and aware in between your meditation sessions. Practice healthy posture and deep breathing. Slow down and give your full attention to one task at a time.
Your relationship with yourself serves as the foundation for a happy and meaningful life. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, the same way you would behave toward a dear friend.