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Ways to be kind to yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted: 17/05/20

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the theme is ‘kindness’. Being kind to others is more important than ever during this pandemic, and we’ve shared some easy ‘random acts of kindness’ you can do right now. But it’s important to be kind to yourself as well.

Being kinder to yourself will make you feel happier and boost your self-esteem. Lots of us struggle to treat ourselves kindly. In fact, we’re often nicer to others than we are to ourselves. Try to take notice when others are kind to you, and find more ways to be kind to yourself:

  • Get moving in whatever way makes YOU feel good. That could be going for a run or doing some yoga, working your arms by doing some baking (kneading bread or whisking eggs will do the trick!), gardening in the sunshine, or even dancing around in your kitchen to your favourite songs! Exercise leads to the release of natural “feel-good” chemicals (endorphins), and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Give yourself a rest with a good night’s sleep, ideally a solid 8 hours. If you’re struggling to sleep due to worry or stress, that’s understandable – take a look at our Sleeping Problems self help guide to find techniques that might help. Our relaxation tracks can help you to let go and drift off.
  • Nourish your body and brain by eating a balanced diet. Getting our normal food supplies can be tricky at the moment, but try to drink plenty of water and eat fruit and vegetables regularly. (Tinned and frozen are just as good for you as fresh supplies.) You’re allowed a treat too – letting yourself enjoy a variety of foods is part of being kind to yourself.
    If you sometimes struggle with being kind to yourself when it comes to your diet, try our Food for Thought self-help guide. It’s available to download at http://www.cntw.nhs.uk/selfhelp.
  • It’s ok to give yourself some ‘me time’ each day. Read a story, watch your favourite film or a show that makes you laugh out loud, or get stuck into a creative project. Give yourself permission to escape and let go for a little while.
  • Take a few minutes to focus on your good qualities. When you do something you’re proud of, however small, stop for a minute and focus on it. Try writing down three things that you appreciate about yourself. It can be anything, not just big achievements – that you’re a good listener, that you flossed or brushed your teeth this morning, or that you’re keeping up with your hobby. Do this regularly, and you’ll improve your relationship with yourself.
  • Show yourself compassion when things aren’t going well. Rather than being critical, ask yourself: “How would a friend support me in this situation?” Then support and talk to yourself like a good friend would.
  • Try to put less stress and pressure on yourself. Think again about unrealistic standards you’ve set for yourself, like “I have to finish this project today.” Regular breaks will stop you burning out and mean you can be more productive, so they’re not a ‘waste of time’.

We hope that this list helps you to be kinder to yourself, throughout these difficult times and beyond.