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Published on August 13, 2020

15 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself (Especially When Feeling Down)

15 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself (Especially When Feeling Down)

You may be having a difficult day or a difficult week. It can feel like an uphill climb to get out of that emotional and mental rut and be kind to yourself, but there are, fortunately, many tools at our disposal for resetting our attitude. When we show ourselves kindness, we start to create new habit patterns and neuron pathways in the brain [1]. These new “mentalities” take us from seeing everything as negative and grim to joyful, positive, and full of opportunity.

We understand kindness from the perspective of how we treat our family and friends. What if we were to take that same approach to how we treat ourselves? How would our health improve if we listened to our body’s signals and responded with care and compassion? These are profound questions to ask. While having a bad day and feeling down is another part of life, we can start to implement tools into our routine that grow our self-compassion muscle even more.

1. Forgive Yourself Often

This may be the best and hardest tool to implement in your life, but it is so potent! We are so hard on ourselves, and we are often our own worst critic. We can easily forgive our friends and family, but we have a harder time taking that forgiveness within.

Today, practice self-forgiveness. When you get caught up in self-blame, pause and think about how you would react to the same situation with a friend. Often, we need the same kind of forgiveness. At the end of the day, we’re doing the best that we can. When we know better, we can do better. In the meantime, forgiveness is key.

2. Write Yourself a Love Letter

This is a simple yet precious way of writing your thoughts and feelings down on a piece of paper. If you really want to add a touch of extra love and be kind to yourself, pull out your fanciest stationary[2]! If you’re having a hard time with writing, imagine you’re writing to your younger self. What would you want to say? Often, it’s words of encouragement.

We hold a lot of compassion for ourselves in hindsight, after life has tested and blessed us. Writing love letters offers us perspective in which to find gratitude! If you want, you can also mail it to yourself, or save it and open it in a few months or even years.

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3. Take Care of Your Physical Health

This may look like going out for a walk every day in your neighborhood or favorite park; it may also look like taking a yoga class on a Saturday morning, or joining a favorite gym or fitness club.

When we’re feeling down, our physical body hangs on to all of that pent-up energy and emotion. We need to clear that energy in order to maintain physical health, as well as emotional and mental health[3]. Whatever you choose is up to you! Just make sure it feels good and you’re having fun while you’re at it.

4. Nourish and Treat Yourself

This may look like taking yourself out to dinner or cooking a delicious meal for yourself at home! Often, in times of despair, one of the first things that starts to lack is our nutrition. We either don’t eat enough or we overeat, and never the right kinds of food.

Schedule a time on your calendar for treating yourself! It may be ordering food from your favorite restaurant, or spoiling yourself with something that you would never order regularly. Whatever it is, make sure it feels special, something out of the ordinary, and bonus points if it’s healthy!

5. Seek out a Therapist

When it comes to emotional and mental health, seeking out professional health is a major win and a great way to be kind to yourself. We can’t always help ourselves. We need someone to hold space for us, listen and hear us out, and offer perspectives that we wouldn’t have on our own[4]. There is no shame in asking for help.

Therapists will often challenge you to confront the way you think about various situations and experiences, so if you have a problem with negative thinking, therapy can be particularly useful. Just make sure you’re ready to go into it with an open mind and lots of self-compassion.

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6. Buy Yourself Flowers

This may seem like a cliché approach to self-kindness, but think about the last time you bought flowers for yourself. How long has it really been? There is great power in treating yourself in the same manner as you would treat someone you loved.

Small gestures, such as buying yourself flowers, are breadcrumbs towards those new habit patterns. When put together, they create a new outlook of joy, happiness, peace, and contentment. To go a step further, take yourself out on a date! You may be surprised how much you enjoy your own company.

7. When You’re in a Rut, Ask Questions

We reflexively jump to outside stimuli when we’re facing a challenge or are in a rut. You may turn to food, drugs, or alcohol; or you may keep yourself mindlessly busy, distracted, or running headfirst into emotional restlessness and poor decisions.

Instead, we can ask ourselves questions to start to dig deeper into our current situation. For example, asking “What do I need right now?” can be a powerful moment of introspection. It not only brings us back to the present, but it also cuts through the noise of mental and emotional chatter.

8. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

Our loved ones have a beautiful way of pulling you out of your own funk when you don’t know how to be kind to yourself. Just by being around other people, our energy can lift and shift in ways that promote a new, fresh start to our day. Make sure you find friends who will be patient with you and make space for you to be heard and loved. If you feel like your friends aren’t capable of this, it may be the moment to limit the amount of time you spend with them. Remember to surround yourself with people who can lift you up versus people who can only bring you down!

9. Hydrate!

This also may seem like a simple tool, but it is an incredibly important one! Just like food, hydration is also something we toss to the back burner when we’re feeling down. It just doesn’t seem to be that important until we have a headache and don’t know where it’s coming from.

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Drinking water not only regulates our body’s innate functioning systems, but it also heavily impacts our mood[5]. Remember to stick to water and avoid high-sugar drinks, such as sodas. If you’re not sure, water is your best bet!

10. Have a “Self-Care” Day

This doesn’t have to be fancy. You can draw yourself a bath, have a picnic outside, or choose to snuggle in for a movie night. A “Self-Care” day is all about being present with yourself and enjoying the little things with more appreciation. There are many ways of enjoying the day that won’t cost you a lot of money, and all with tools already at your disposal in your home or community.

11. Make Time for Meditation

This is a wonderful practice of tuning into your mental state and works to teach you how to be kind to yourself. With so many meditation applications out there, you can find teacher-guided sessions or timers with gentle background music to ease you into meditation. Meditation teachers often say that all of our answers reside within us, so starting this practice in a time when we’re struggling can provide powerful insight.

12. Give Yourself Recognition

There are many successes we simply don’t take the time to celebrate. Instead, we wait for others to celebrate or recognize our accomplishments. Today, think about something you’d like to be recognized for. It could be a project you’ve been working on or something you’ve devoted time and effort to in your life. Then, celebrate it!

Share it with your friends and family, and give yourself a pat on the back! Another fun way of giving yourself recognition is to create a “Brag Bucket.” Each time you accomplish something, drop a note with what you did. At the end of the year, take a look at everything you’ve done and celebrate yourself!

13. Give Yourself a Massage

We already mentioned how the body holds on to emotional and mental baggage. This can show up in tension, tightness, aches, or pains. While it is certainly rewarding to go get a massage, you can also give yourself one. Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga, highlights a particularly healing massage practice called abhyanga, which is an oil massage that you can do from the comfort of your own home[6].

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14. Stop Tolerating What/Who Doesn’t Serve You Well

Sometimes practicing self-kindness is about cutting the cords of what no longer brings you joy in life. This may be an idea, routine, or a person. It’s OK to walk away from something that brings you down. When you can let go and distance yourself in such a way, more space opens up for you to fill that void with what actually makes you happy!

15. Rest and Recharge

We live in a society that worships productivity. While that may be needed in some instances, it also creates the assumption that a lack of productivity makes you worth less as an employee and a person and makes it very difficult to find time to be kind to yourself. We need to get back to the flow of nature, which shows us that while much may not be going on, life is still thriving and growing. Likewise, so are we.

We are not designed to thrive in a “grind” society. We don’t always need to work, move, create, and do. More often than not, we need rest! We need to simply be, and we need to know that this is more than OK.

Final Thoughts

We all have days where we feel down and out. In these moments, we can either wallow in our despair and let it consume us, or we can practice simple yet effective tools to nourish ourselves. At the core of self-kindness and compassion is the fact that we’re all just doing our very best, day in and day out. As the old Buddhist saying goes, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.”

More on How to Be Kind to Yourself

Featured photo credit: Elly Johnson via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful 15 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself (Especially When Feeling Down) How to Customize a Self-Care Plan That Works For You 7 Ways to Be Mindful Every Day 20 Health Affirmations to Stay Fit Physically and Mentally

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

Here are some study tips to help get you started:

1. Use Flashcards

Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

As Tony Robbins says,

“Repetition is the mother of skill”.

2. Create the Right Environment

Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

4. Listen to Music

Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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5. Rewrite Your Notes

This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

6. Engage Your Emotions

Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

7. Make Associations

One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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