Mental Health Awareness Week: Being kind to ourselves - Written by WWTW Mental Health Therapist Vikki Powell.
Being kind to ourselves and others is now a common refrain. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But for many of us, it is hard to do regularly, consistently and without dismissing our acts of kindness as something of little value.
During the recent extraordinary weeks of lockdown, we have seen many more expressions of care or gratitude towards others, in the form of random acts of kindness. Thanking a front line worker by buying their newspaper, taking home baked cake to neighbours, or volunteering to help a stranger are acts of kindness repeated up and down the country. They are ways of reaching out and helping another, but they also offer us a way of connecting with others, with our community, and with the meaning in our lives. It’s because of this sense of connection that acts of kindness to others, also help us to feel good about ourselves.
But too often, we can master the art of showing kindness to others, without truly being kind to ourselves. We even dismiss the consideration and effort we demonstrated in the help or thanks we extended to others. Developing the art of self-kindness takes practice before it can be a new habit that feels natural and comfortable. As humans we struggle to change habits, defaulting to what feels familiar even when that old habit doesn’t benefit our health. I accept that it takes time and repetition to resist the urge to default to old, familiar ways of being, and therefore help clients to build small, workable acts of self-kindness into their day. These are the acts of self-kindness that seem to stick with clients:
- Taking time to really enjoy that first coffee/tea in the morning
- Say 'no'
- Make yourself an uplifting playlist and enjoy it
- Tell yourself out loud, ‘I’m OK just as I am”, even if you don’t quite believe that yet
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