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Are You Kind to Yourself?

Being kind to yourself. This is something I discuss a lot with clients, however it sounds a little simplistic when I say it out loud. Being kind to yourself can easily be misinterpreted so here are some tips;

1. If you're coping with difficult circumstances, being kind to yourself may be easily confused with doing what is immediately comforting - like drinking too much, overeating or staying up late for some much needed 'me time'. These are all normal strategies we employ when we're stressed out, emotionally drained or feeling low. Unfortunately they can further affect our mental health, making us feel worse both mentally & physically. Just one change could really help improve how you feel.

2. Beating yourself up about doing those things only makes you feel worse - in fact when you berate yourself for not living up to how you believe you 'should be' coping, this increases the downward spiral of your mindset and can keep you in a place where you fall into the trap of just existing. Sound familiar?

Making time to do something you enjoy, or that relaxes you will release feel good hormones to make you feel better. It doesn't matter what it is and even if it's brief, like 10 minutes of stretching/walking/colouring/tinkering with a project it's worth it. You are worth it, even if you don't feel like it at first.

I get great mental 'down time' from gardening for example - but I have to make myself get out there and do it. What could you do that really gets you absorbed or happy?

3. Being kind to yourself means gradually finding the right balance - so if you're not in a great place to start with you need to accept that you're not going to stick to huge life changes in one go. Making an effort to work towards what you want to achieve is enough.

Recognise that you are starting to make changes and encourage yourself.

Instead of saying 'I can't do this - it's too much' maybe something like 'I'm working on it - as well as doing all the things I need to do every day' will help you recognise that you're doing your best.

4. It's good to talk - of course I'd recommend seeing a good therapist, that's what I do, but I'm also a realist. If you can't afford to, friends & loved ones can be really supportive. If not have a look around for support groups, you'll be surprised how many others are struggling. Just knowing someone else understands can be a huge relief. Your GP can offer some psychological help and you could also check if your local Counselling colleges offer lower fee therapy with Counsellors in their final stages of study.

5. Meeting your physical needs as well as your emotional ones is vital. If your emotional needs being met feels a bit too daunting because of what you're going through, try starting with the physical ones first. If you feel better physically, this will have an impact on your emotional resilience naturally. Then you can start work on the deeper stuff when you're feeling stronger.

You probably know this already but here's a reminder of the basics:

a) Hydration - your brain is thirsty and works 24/7 so give it some water - put a bottle where you're likely to see it/drink some (by the kettle or in front of the wine!)

b) Sleep - I know it may be disturbed when you're stressed but making an effort to get an early night could really improve your state of mind the next day. Ignore Facebook/emails/phones night for 2 hours before bed & see what happens. Try a Hypnosis recording if you need to - I'll send you one if you fancy it.

c) Nutrition - It's hard to eat well when you're busy, so just one really healthy meal is a great start, even if it's a good ready meal. You don't have to turn vegan - just give yourself something you know your body needs.

d) Be forgiving - No one is as hard on you as yourself (usually), so think about how you'd encourage a friend or loved one in your position and use those words for yourself.

I hope you find this post helpful, I will respond to your comments or questions as soon as I can if you leave them.

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