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Last Updated on November 27, 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

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Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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