The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
TRIGGER WARNING // This articles delves into topics such as depression, disordered eating and neglect. Please do not read if these may be triggering topics for you. Remember that you are deserving of love, please reach out to someone if you are dealing with a lot right now.
Kindness is one of the most important things we can practice in our daily lives. While being kind to others can feel easy, being kind to ourselves can prove to be a much harder task. We live with ourselves 24/7, meaning we experience every single thought we think and every single emotion we feel—good or bad. Sometimes it can become difficult to allow ourselves to accept gentleness and love when our minds are filled with negativity and stress. Personally, I have experienced tons of difficulty in this area over the past couple of years, and I've compiled a list with some potential pointers to help you practice accepting self-compassion and kindness in your life.
Allow yourself to rest
Rest is one of the most essential tools when it comes to self-love and care, but it can also be one of the toughest to make time for and to allow. Nowadays, I feel like more and more people are running into trouble with their sleep patterns due to various disruptions at nighttime, anxiety, and stress. I have also found that in today's world, the idea of "hustle culture," especially in student and uni life, causes us to sometimes pride ourselves on getting less sleep because it somehow shows how "capable" we are. In conversations with my peers, I've also noticed that people tend to brag about how little sleep they get, competing for the title of who can function with the least amount of rest. These things can slip into our subconscious around the idea of sleep, and we may find ourselves thinking that sleeping is a weakness. For the longest time, I felt that admitting I needed a good 9 hours of sleep meant that I was less capable than others and could not handle as much work as they could. Finally, it came to a point where I realized that I simply could not function and could barely think without getting adequate sleep, and robbing myself of it was pointless. By giving ourselves rest, we give ourselves the strength to accomplish whatever we want to do the next day. Just like a phone needs to be charged to function, we as human beings need to give our bodies, organs, mind, and muscles the time to relax and regenerate so they can keep carrying us through the following day.
Allow yourself to eat good food
Feeding and fuelling yourself with food is a simple way to practice showing yourself love and kindness. Throughout my struggles with anxiety and depression, allowing myself to eat and giving myself food was one of the hardest things to deal with. I often felt convinced that I was awful and did not deserve to give my body the energy it needed. Despite what your mind may be telling you, try to ask yourself if there is a reason for these negative claims. It is possible you are upset at yourself over making a mistake or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, but these things are all human. Making mistakes, saying the wrong things, and doing the wrong things—even while feeling depressed, are all ordinary experiences and part of being human. They do not define you, and they do not make you less deserving of nourishment. When you're struggling with food, remember that it's better to eat something rather than nothing. Think of your absolute favourite meal or treat, and either order, buy, or make it—whatever it is. You could even ask someone in your home if they would help you with the task because sometimes being around others can help with eating food. Maybe bake some muffins, make some breakfast, or even eat something frozen like dumplings. Giving your body a bit of fuel is an excellent way to practice kindness with yourself and show yourself that it is okay to be hungry and cave into cravings. Our human experience is too short and precious to be so hard and restorative on ourselves.
Allow yourself to feel your emotions, and validate them
We are often hard on ourselves because we deeply feel things that hurt or affect us. Sometimes we may notice or feel we are affected by some emotions more than others, or we experience and feel differently than our friends and peers. This comparison can often lead us down a path of anger and self-loathing. Personally, I've struggled with this a lot. I've often been hard on myself for getting upset at little things or dwelling on events from the past. I would angrily tell myself to "just get over it," I would say to myself I was "overreacting," that I was "too sensitive," that I was "pathetic" and "a cry baby." These things your mind tends to tell yourself are a defense mechanism to the stress or sadness you may be experiencing. Those things your mind tells you are a way to repress these difficult emotions and move away from them as they create discomfort and stress. It's important to practice positive self-talk in these situations and to allow yourself to feel your emotions, no matter how "embarrassing" you may think they are. When we feel things, they are directly telling us something about ourselves and how we interact with the world around us. It's essential to allow ourselves to learn what those are and what our emotions are trying to teach us about ourselves, rather than burying them away. Allowing yourself to find a quiet and safe place to feel these emotions can allow you to work through them positively and find a way to work alongside them instead of guilting yourself or repressing them. Some helpful things you can do are journaling your feelings, talking to a close friend or family member, or even trying self-compassion meditations.
Give yourself space and time
Nowadays, we all seem to be busy 24/7. Regardless of what it is, there's always something that needs to be done. Life can feel hectic from cleaning, completing work and assignments, and making time to catch up with our friends and loved ones. Sometimes it feels like we're doing things all day for other people and never really giving ourselves the time to be. Allowing ourselves to take the time to be alone and relax can provide us with the love and energy we're so often deprived of. Whether setting aside a few hours to engage in a hobby you love, reading for a few hours, or simply just laying in bed watching your favourite movie, time spent alone is essential for our well-being and recharging. Similar to the way sleep recharges our battery for the day, time alone can replenish our social battery, allowing us to focus our love and attention on ourselves. Thus, taking some time away to be alone can also help us to take the time to process our emotions and our thoughts, allowing us to make sense of our lives and what is going on. Giving ourselves this Tender Loving Care (TLC) is a way of shamelessly showing kindness to ourselves and learning that it is okay to take a step back.
The journey to self-love can be a difficult one. It can be tough to deal with the hustle and bustle of life around us, especially on top of what goes on inside ourselves. Our struggles in our day-to-day lives can leave us depleted and upset. However, practicing self-love through various small activities can significantly impact our physical and mental well-being, allowing us to grow and enjoy ourselves and our lives as much as possible. No matter what we go through, the kindness and love we show ourselves will be the key to getting us through.