By Michael Scott
At Pure Turtle, we talk a lot about the need to be kind to yourself, but when you feel low or unmotivated, it can be hard to show yourself kindness. It’s even harder to practise self-kindness if you don’t know where to start. Self-kindness isn’t taught in schools or in many workplaces, so we need to actively incorporate it into our lives. If you think you could do with being a bit kinder to yourself, here are 7 ways to get you going.
1. Set your boundaries
Many people will compromise their boundaries in order to please others or to help them feel more comfortable. They will frequently say ‘yes’ when really they want to say ‘no’. For example; there are times when people will change plans in order to suit someone else when they desperately don’t want to.
When you’re tired, you’re allowed to rest. You might have big Friday night plans to sit in your pj’s and watch TV, and you are allowed to do so – even if someone invites you to go out, you don’t have to say yes. Even if it means that person can no longer go out because they don’t want to go alone. You are not always responsible for other people’s happiness, and sacrificing your own happiness all the time for others will not benefit you, and could even build resentment between you and the person for whom you have made the sacrifice. Say no. Kindly but firmly.
2. Allow yourself to accept help
It can be tough to ask for help, especially if you are always ‘the helper’ not ‘the helpee’. If you are feeling low and want help but are worried or anxious about asking for help, try to think about how you feel when someone asks you for help. You may feel pride that they would trust you enough to ask for your help, you might get satisfaction from making a friend’s life easier and happier. Well, chances are your friend will feel the same when you ask for help, they might feel relief that they are able to return the favour, and the increased bond between you could open doors or new levels of friendship you never knew were there.
3. Take a Turtle Time Out!
Nobody can keep going at full speed without a break. But for some reason, people feel the need to prove their worth by being busy all the time.
We’re allowed time out. Breaks and relaxation are essential to happiness, and taking the breaks we need can often increase our productivity because they allow us to carry out our best work when we aren’t super-tired.
4. Forgive yourself
Everybody makes mistakes, and when we make them, we beat ourselves up. We tell ourselves that we should have known better.
Try to remember that you’re not infallible. Mistakes happen, but they can help us to learn and move forward in ways we might not have done if we hadn’t made the mistake in the first place. Criticising yourself when you make a mistake doesn’t achieve anything except to make you feel even worse. Accept the error, learn from it and then move forward.
5. Trust your gut
Your body has reliable ways of telling you what it wants. When you need food, your stomach grumbles, when you need sleep, you can’t stop yawning, and when you are cold you shiver, for example.
Sometimes we ignore these signals – for example; if you are hungry and there is no food around you must suppress the feeling so you can carry on without too much distraction from your stomach. When you are tired but you have things you want to do you put off getting much-needed sleep. However, if we ignore our bodies for too long, we can get used to ignoring the signals, even when our health starts to suffer, and sometimes we can even forget how to read the signals.
Your body is smart. It tells you what it needs, you might need to just practice listening to recognise what it is telling you.
As adults, we rarely, if ever, play. We feel we must ‘adult’ at all times or we will be seen as immature or irresponsible. But play is an important part of human life, it allows our imagination to stretch its legs, it can get our bodies moving, it increases our bonds with those we play with.
People often feel self-conscious playing outdoors. For example in parks and play areas children are running around but parents are often on the sidelines, either chatting or looking at their phones. Some parents do get stuck in and lose themselves in play, and there are others who would do the same if they felt less inhibited, or thought it was more acceptable - or could remember how to play!
Well, give it a go! Run around, play pirates or chase the kids for no other reason than it feels good.
If playgrounds aren’t your thing, think of ways that everyday activities could be more playful, lighter, funnier…
Give yourself credit. You don’t have to save the world to reward yourself. Allow yourself to feel good for anything you accomplish, no matter how small. If you are feeling low, sometimes even getting up to do the washing up can feel like a challenge, so when you do it, reward yourself. Tell yourself you did well and allow that feeling to grow in your mind. Don’t tell yourself ‘it was only the washing up, why was it so hard to do in the first place, urgh it shouldn’t be this hard’ that will only bring you down. Instead, tick it off your list, one job down and with that feeling, you will likely feel motivated to do another job, and once that is done you’ll think ‘I might as well carry on and do x,y, and z as well’. By the end, you will feel accomplished and proud of yourself and quite rightly as well! Recognise your successes and your successes will grow!