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Be kind… to yourself: 10 top tips

GP and Lead Medical Appraiser at Bupa
06 October 2020

Being kind to others often comes naturally but being kind to ourselves may not. So with that in mind, here are 10 ways to show yourself some kindness – this week and beyond.


Why kindness matters

Research shows that kindness to ourselves:

  • strengthens our sense of self – our identity
  • boosts our self esteem
  • helps with our confidence
  • improves our sense of optimism
  • helps us cope better with stress
  • improves resilience – our ability to bounce back after a setback

10 top tips

1. Talk kindly to yourself

Think about how you speak to the people you love and care about, and then turn that voice on yourself. Be conscious about your inner voice – let it be a friend to you or one that is kind to you, rather than one that is harsh or belittles you. This can help you pick yourself up if things go wrong and help you cope better.

2. Practise gratitude

We often find that people who practise gratitude and notice the things they are thankful for are happier and have a greater sense of wellbeing. You might want to try and think of a few things in the morning or before you got to bed. You could tell someone in your household or write them down. Actively focus on the positives of your day. Reframing situations and looking for the positives can help strengthen your resilience.

3. 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, for example. Doing good for others boosts your own wellbeing and at the same time helps brighten someone else’s day.

4. Reflect daily

Make time every day to give yourself some space to reflect on what’s going on for you and how you are feeling. A few minutes to sit and think or write in a journal can help you process your thoughts and feelings and cope better.

5. Self-care

Keeping healthy routines and rituals are an important way to look after yourself. These might be things like having breakfast, carving out some time for yourself in the day, planning what you eat and performing exercise, and doing some things you enjoy.

6. Be responsible for yourself

If a stressful or busy day tempts you to treat yourself (with alcohol or junk food for example) – think about whether this is a healthy move to make or not. A treat now and then is fine but recognise not to use it as a crutch, as it can sabotage all the efforts you’ve made to look after yourself. Self-compassion comes with self-respect, not self-sabotage.

7. Invest in your interests

Do things that really align with your interests and passions. If you have a creative streak, make time for a creative outlet or if you like being outdoors or doing sport – make time for these too. These are the things that can often get pushed off your priority list, but it’s important that you don’t compromise them.

8. 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 things that haven’t happened yet), or thinking about the past (and dwelling on things you cannot change). You can mindfully do almost anything – eat a meal, brush your teeth, or choosing to go for a walk mindfully.

9. Spend time in or around nature

Being around elements of the natural world can be calming and improve your sense of wellbeing. Consider how you can make time to be with elements of the outdoors and natural world. This could be greenery such as your garden, a walk in the park, and green spaces around you. It could also be water, such as a stroll by a canal, lake, or river, or better still a beach or parts of the coast if these are nearby.

10. Think of the opportunities

We’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic, which is understandably a cause of worry and stress. It may help to counter these feelings if you can consider this a unique time of opportunity too. We can reframe our perception of this time as a chance to pause, reflect and reset. Think about the things you didn’t enjoy in your life before, and what you may want to keep or change going forward.

Dr Naveen Puri
GP and Lead Medical Appraiser at Bupa

    • Kindness and mental health. Mental Health Foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk, published 29 April 2020
    • Longe O, Maratos FA, Gilbert P, et al. Having a word with yourself: neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Neuroimage 2010; 49:1849–56. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.09.019
    • Wu G, Cohen H, Kim J, et al. Understanding resilience. Front Behav Neurosci 2013; 7:10. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00010
    • Cunha LF. Pellanda LC, Reppold CT. Positive psychology and gratitude interventions: a randomized clinical trial. Front Psychol 2019. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00584
    • Five ways to mental wellbeing. Government Office for Science. GOV UK. www.gov.uk, published 22 October 2008
    • How to look after your mental health. Mental Health Foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk accessed 6 May 2020
    • How to look after your mental health with mindfulness. Mental Health Foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk, accessed 6 May 2020
    • Links between natural environments and mental health: evidence briefing (EIN018). Natural England. publications.naturalengland.org.uk, published 14 July 2016
    • Nature and mental health. Mind. www.mind.org.uk, published May 2018

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