How to be kind to yourself: 10 top tips

profile picture of Bianca Clarke
Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
28 April 2023
Next review due April 2026

We’re often kind to those around us, but sometimes it can be easy to forget to be kind to ourselves. Research has found that showing ourselves kindness and self-compassion can benefit our mental health and wellbeing. Here, I explore what self-compassion is, and suggest 10 ways you can be kinder to yourself today.

two people having fun at the beach

What does it mean to be kind to myself?

Self-compassion is the ability to show ourselves kindness, particularly when things don’t go as we might have planned. It’s speaking to yourself with an encouraging and warm inner voice, as you might do to a friend if they need support.

Let’s say you’ve been for a job interview and didn’t get the job. If you were to be kind to yourself, your inner voice might say that you prepared well for the interview and tried your best. Even though you didn’t get the job this time, you might remind yourself that you have valuable skills that are useful to the workplace.

A self-critical inner voice might focus on the things you feel you did ‘wrong’ in the interview. You might tell yourself that you didn’t get the job because you weren’t ‘good enough.’

These are things we would never say to a friend. But it can be easy to be unkind and critical when we think about our own behaviour.

Can being kinder to yourself improve your mental health?

Being unkind to ourselves can have a negative impact on our mental health and wellbeing. And, it’s also been linked with depression and anxiety.

Whereas showing ourselves self-compassion has been shown to:

  • boost self esteem
  • increase happiness
  • helps us cope with stress
  • improve resilience (our ability to recover from setbacks)
  • help us feel more satisfied with life

We asked members of the public how they show themselves kindness. You can watch the video below.

How can I be kind to myself?

It can be challenging to learn to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Especially if you’ve been self-critical for a long time. Here are 10 top tips:

  • Talk kindly to yourself. Think about how you speak to your loved ones and use that voice on yourself. Let your inner voice be a friend to you, rather than one that is harsh or unkind. This can help you to recover if things go wrong and help you cope better.
  • Practise gratitude. People who practise gratitude and notice things they are thankful for are often happier and have a greater sense of wellbeing. Why not try and think of a few things you’re grateful for and write them down. Try to focus on the positives of your day. Reframing situations and looking for the positives can help strengthen your resilience.
  • Perform acts of kindness to others. Be kind to others. Small gestures have a big impact – whether it’s smiling at someone or letting someone go in front of you in a queue. Doing good for others boosts your wellbeing and also helps brighten someone else’s day.
  • Reflect daily. Make time every day to give yourself some space to reflect on how you’re feeling. Taking some time to write in a journal can help you process your thoughts and feelings and cope better.
  • Focus on self-care. Having healthy routines are an important way to look after yourself. Try to make time for a healthy breakfast each day, get some exercise, and make time for doing the things you enjoy.
  • Be responsible for your wellbeing. If a stressful day tempts you to treat yourself with alcohol or unhealthy food – think about whether this is a healthy coping strategy. A treat now and then is fine, but it might not be the best way to deal with negative emotions.
  • Invest in your interests. Make time for your interests and passions, whether this is a creative hobby like drawing or painting, or an outdoor or sporting activity. Hobbies and interests can become neglected, but it’s important that you find time for the things you enjoy.
  • Practise mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of thinking, focusing on the here and now. It encourages you to pay attention to the present moment. This can help reduce thinking too far ahead and worrying about the future. It can also help us to stop focussing too much on the past and things we can’t change.
  • Spend time in nature. Being around elements of the natural world can be calming. You could try spending more time in your garden or go walking in your local park. You could try a stroll by a canal, lake, or river, and look out for nearby wildlife. Or, visit a beach or parts of the coast if there are any nearby.
  • Think of the opportunities. Reframing our perception of our lives can give us an opportunity to pause, reflect, and reset. Think about the things you’d like to change in your life going forward, and how you’d like to do this.

It can be difficult to change a critical inner-voice. But making the effort to talk to ourselves like a friend can improve our wellbeing. If you find you’re being unkind to yourself, why not try these tips to show yourself some self-compassion.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

profile picture of Bianca Clarke
Bianca Clarke
Cognitive Behaviour Therapist



Lucy Kapoutsos, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

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