TEACHER-turned-mental health and wellbeing consultant Sarah Wray believes the key to self-care is in remembering to be kind to yourself as well as others. In the second in a series of guest articles, Sarah of LiveWell Consultancy shares her advice for 'self-kindness'...

Since lockdown started in March, we have seen many, many acts of kindness where people and communities have come together to support each other.

Why do we choose to be kind?

Kindness is a surefire way to feel good. Whoever you are being kind to – whether it is a small act of kindness to a stranger or kindness to a friend or family member, it’s not just them that benefits – it’s also you. Kind people feel happier, and the happier you feel the kinder you will be.

So being kind to other people helps us feel happier and more connected. But what about you? Are you kind to yourself?

Self-kindness is probably last on your list. Why should you be kind to yourself? Maybe you don’t have time? Maybe you don’t think it is important? Maybe you don’t think you are worth it? Well it is important and will impact hugely on your well-being.

You have probably heard of ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ where we find ways to be kind to different people. Well today, I suggest starting ‘Tiny Acts of Daily Self-Kindness’. How does it work? Well, simply, you find at least one small act of kindness just for you every day. Here are some suggestions...

Give yourself encouragement or praise
Most of us quite often are our own worst critics and say things to ourselves that we would never say to others. Quieten that inner critic whenever you notice it starting, and give yourself some encouragement or praise, just like you would give to a friend. Actively recognise the positives about yourself. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.  

Do something just for you
Give yourself permission to do something just for you and enjoy it rather than feeling guilty. Plan time in regularly and don’t cancel! Go for a walk or bike ride, ring a friend, have a bubble bath, cook some nourishing food, read a book, watch a film, spend time with a loved one…whatever you enjoy doing, just for YOU. When you spend time doing the things that you enjoy, you are actively looking after your well-being and will feel more content and have more energy.

Say ‘no’
How many of us say ‘yes’ to people when we actually want to say ‘no’ when they ask us to do something? Learning that at times we have a choice, and we don’t have to explain or feel guilty about not wanting to do something.  

Be grateful
Research shows that people who spend time acknowledging what they are grateful each day (however small), experience greater life satisfaction and less depression than those who don’t. So, notice the good and voice that gratitude.  

There are many other ways to be kind to yourself and make a difference to your well-being. Make a habit of the Tiny Acts of Daily Self-Kindness and you will soon notice the difference.