5 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself

It's time to start treating ourselves the way we treat our best friends: with love, kindness and respect. This practice, known as self-compassion, was derived from Buddhist psychology. Self-compassion includes being less critical towards oneself, accepting difficult feelings and making time for activities you enjoy. During the pandemic, I found it easy to be overly critical of myself. There have been too many instances where "zoom fatigue" has made me less productive than I'd like to be and spending more time alone has made it easier to focus in on my minute failures. However, being critical of yourself isn't good for your mental health and can lower your self-esteem, so here are six things I've been doing to be kinder to myself.

  1. 1. Reflect

    Once a week, take 15 minutes and do a check-in with yourself just like you would with a friend who you were worried about. I was doing this before the pandemic, but I feel that it is even more important to do now. Did you eat enough this week? Did you eat mostly healthy foods? Did you drink enough water? Did you get enough exercise? Have you been spending too much time on screens? Taking this time to reflect will allow you to set goals for the coming week, such as spending less time on your phone. 

  2. 2. Set good boundaries

    As important as it is to be informed about all the crazy events happening in the world, it is okay to take a break for a few hours if you think it will help you de-stress. It is okay to take a break from social media or choose to do a "follower cleanse," where you unfollow accounts that negatively impact your mental health. You don't have to go to every socially-distanced gathering or join every zoom meeting. As many of us spend a lot of time in our rooms for online classes, it is essential to set physical boundaries between our "own space" and our "school space." For example, I never do my homework or classes on my bed. That is my space to relax. 

  3. 3. Focus on mindfulness

    Mindfulness refers to accepting yourself, your thoughts and your emotions, even if they are not positive. We are humans who are not perfect. We're in the middle of a global pandemic - you don't have to pretend you're feeling great all the time. It's important to try and accept your thoughts as they come and not judge yourself for them. A great way to practice this is by going on a mindfulness walk and just noticing and accepting your thoughts. 

  4. 4. Challenge your inner critic

    If you notice yourself thinking something overly critical about yourself, like being angry about gaining the "quarantine 15," try counteracting these thoughts as they come up. For example, after pointing out that you've gained a little weight over quarantine, say to yourself, "It's normal to gain weight during this time. I can counteract this by eating healthy and doing safe, at-home workouts."

  5. 5. Give yourself recognition 

    Take time to be proud of yourself, even if it’s for a small accomplishment like getting in an extra workout. On that note, be able to accept compliments. I've noticed so many people, girls especially, deny any compliments given to them. If someone says, "You look nice," don't say, "In these sweats?" You are allowed to be proud of yourself and take compliments. It doesn't make you conceited, it shows that you have self-compassion.