“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” --George Washington Carver
The word kindness is made up of two syllables—KIND and NESS. KIND means forgiving, warm-hearted, friendly, of a sympathetic or helpful nature, gentle, merciful, and tender. NESS is a suffix that means a state, condition, quality or degree. When the two syllables are combined they result in the following definition: KINDNESS: The quality or state of being warm-hearted, considerate, humane and sympathetic.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that being kind results in significant physical, mental and emotional health benefits:
- It maintains good health and diminishes the effect of disease.
- Endorphins or natural pain-killers are released as well as a physical sensation of euphoria, which leads to improved emotional well-being.
- Stress related problems including depression tend to improve after performing kind acts.
- Self-esteem is enhanced as well as feelings of optimism and happiness.
- The immune system is strengthened and physical pain decreases.
Wouldn’t you like to reap these physical, mental and emotional benefits? If so, be kind to yourself!
How to Be Kind to Yourself
A very dear friend of mine is fond of saying, “A change is as good as a rest.” She does little things to be kind to herself like changing her shoes after a long day at work, putting on a pair of slippers or walking shoes and then starting the next activity with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Imagine my surprise when I decided to give this piece of home-grown wisdom a try. She was right! I began to change my shoes or clothing-- particularly after very intense or stressful activities--and became energized and renewed too!
Doing things differently for a change is as good as a rest. So here are 25 ways you can be kind to yourself, make small changes in your life, and rest in the process:
- Celebrate your accomplishments and any small successes you achieve this week. Buy a birthday cake, light the candles and have a solo party, even if it’s not your birthday.
- Don’t overly dwell on your failure moments. We all have them. They make us grow stronger. Learn from them to increase your opportunities for success in the future.
- Send yourself some flowers, a card, or buy a small inexpensive gift. Don’t forget to wrap the gift. When you unwrap it, express your delight and pleasure vocally as you savor the moment.
- Each week, plan a special meal. Set the table with your fine linens, good china, stemware and utensils (instead of paper plates, cups, napkins and plastic forks).
- Take a REAL vacation—you know, the old fashion kind where cell phones, emails, wireless connections, etc. are banned!
- Pop some popcorn, relax in your favorite chair with your feet up, and watch your favorite TV show or DVD.
- Take a long relaxing walk. Reflect on the scenery and environment around you. Notice the little things like a blade of grass or the shape of a leaf.
- Carve out at least 10-15 minutes each day to spend on yourself—any way you choose. Put it on your calendar to ensure that it gets done.
- Make a cup of herbal or green tea and sit quietly thinking about the fun things you would like to do. Put these ideas on paper and take action.
- Bring a CD player to work and softly play classical music in the background while you work on reports, presentations or read the volumes of paperwork you receive each day.
- Get plenty of sleep (whatever amount is appropriate for you).
- Take a bicycle ride through a field or park.
- Go to the spa for a manicure, pedicure, or massage.
- Read for fun—a novel, poetry, short story. Avoid business books or academic treatises.
- Laugh a lot—especially if you have a hard time doing so. See the good humor in nature—two squirrels fighting over an acorn, a duck as it waddles to a pond, etc.
- Start writing in a personal journal. Record as many positive thoughts, actions—whatsoever is lovely about you.
- Re-start your hobbies. Pull out old unfinished projects or just simply start a new one.
- Get a checkup and physical exam. Implement whatever strategies are needed to promote good health. Take vitamins and other supplements to keep your energy at its most productive level.
- Get a new haircut or style.
- Organize your closet or drawers. Tackle a sock or lingerie drawer; hold a tag sale, or donate your materials, furniture, and clothes that are in good condition.
- Take a different route to work. Take yourself off auto-pilot and watch the cars and people around you.
- Build a new relationship with a co-worker, acquaintance or someone who shares your interests.
- Go all out to do something kind and compassionate for yourself.
- Respect yourself. Refuse to berate, put-down or belittle yourself.
- Forgive yourself. Accept the fact that you are not perfect. Choose to move forward instead of remaining stuck in the past or replaying a mistake you made over and over again in your mind.
Have some fun with this. There are many more things you can do to be kind to yourself. Make your own list and when you complete every item on it, start a new one.
The point is that you must plan to do something kind for yourself, and then stick to that plan. Our lives are much too busy these days to let it fall to chance or when you get around to it. You never will, you know. In any event, enjoy the items on this list and begin to experience better health and increased vitality. Being kind to yourself will ultimately result in your being kind to others.