February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day. The RAK Foundation is a non-profit organization that has created a mission of making kindness the norm. They offer free resources on their website as well as an inspiring blog full of stories of kindness. You can find them at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org.
“Everyone can use more kindness in their lives. Scientific evidence shows us the positive effects of doing kind acts for others as well as receiving or even witnessing kindness. Even the smallest act of kindness can change a life.”
I’m taking this opportunity to encourage all of you to start with an act of kindness to yourself. Many of us tend to put the needs of others before our own. If we make a habit of this, we can start to feel run down and emotionally drained. You can’t fill someone else up if you are running on empty. To be more effective in caring for others, we need to start by caring for ourselves.
Self care is a term that is growing in popularity. It is one of the most vital foundations of health, and unfortunately it is often misunderstood. It is so important to remember that self care includes anything that honors your current physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. It may be going for a walk, eating a piece of chocolate, spending five minutes on the treadmill, turning off your phone (or turning it on), taking a nap, or just sitting on the couch.
Self care is the practice of listening to your mind and body and responding to what it needs in a healthy way. It’s about finding the balance between getting stuff done and recharging your batteries. Sometimes it’s appropriate to push yourself when you’re tired, and other times it’s better to take a quick break so that your productivity doesn’t suffer.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is definitely not self-centered or selfish. It’s about paying attention to how you feel, communicating clearly, speaking up for yourself, and making sure that you have what you need to thrive.
For many people, taking care of others is a talent that just seems to come naturally. But when it comes to taking care of yourself, all too often we ignore our own needs. When life throws you curveballs, or knocks you off your feet, it can be hard to pick up the pieces and get back on track, especially if you haven’t been taking care of yourself.
There are six types of self-care: emotional, physical, social, practical, mental, and spiritual.
Emotional Self-Care includes activities that help you connect, process, and reflect on a full range of emotions. Examples are seeing a therapist, writing in a journal, creating art, and playing music.
Practical Self-Care are tasks you complete that fulfill core aspects of your life in order to prevent future stressful situations. Examples include creating a budget, taking professional development classes, and organizing your closet.
Physical Self-Care activities improve the well-being of your physical health. Taking a walk during lunch breaks, getting enough sleep, making sure you stay hydrated, and eating well are all ways to practice physical self care.
Mental Self-Care includes any activity that stimulates your mind or your intellect, like reading a book, solving a puzzle, playing chess, or going to a museum.
Social Self-Care nurtures and deepens the relationships with people in your life. Even in these times of physical distancing, we can maintain and grow our social connections. Remote lunch dates, walks outside, phone calls, and even writing letters are fulfilling ways to stay to practice social self care.
Spiritual Self Care nurtures your spirit and allows you to think bigger than yourself. Spiritual self care does not have to be religious, although for some it is. You can practice Spiritual self care with meditation, yoga, self-reflection, prayer groups, self-hypnosis, and spending time in nature.
Being Kind to Yourself
There are a lot of small and easy things you can do to start taking better care of yourself. If you are tired during the day, set a regular sleep routine. And if you have trouble sleeping there are hundreds of sleep apps and hypnosis programs you can use to help you sleep. (https://www.greenmountainhypnosis.com/audio)
Eating the right foods in the right amounts, at the right times can help you have more energy and stamina. Getting outside for a quick walk boosts endorphins and helps you stay focused. Organize your desk so you can find things easily. Do things you love. And take down time, whether you scroll through social media or watch tv, do something that allows your mind to turn off for a little while.
Slow Down. Do you ever feel that you have been going so fast managing all the activities in your life that you felt like you were spinning out of control? It can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally, and creates in you a sense of failure and helplessness.
Try this: Take a few moments to really look at all the things in your schedule. What are some of the areas that you can streamline your day to make time for a 5 minute rest? Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more controlled pace.
Be mindful of whatever you’re experiencing at the moment. When you find yourself thinking about something you need to do, something that’s already happened, or something that might happen, gently move your focus to what is going on right now, on your actions, on your environment, and on others around you.
Try this: Close your eyes and imagine you are watching leaves float down a stream. Imagine that each of your thoughts is one of these leaves and just watch them each float away without focusing any of them. Practicing this will make it easier for you to keep from getting carried away by distracting or negative thoughts, and you will find it easier to stay focused.
Breathe. When you find yourself beginning to feel stress, pause and take a deep breath. Feel the air coming into your body, and feel the stress flowing out. By focusing on each breath, you allow yourself to come back to the present and refocus your attention on your experience.
Try this: I teach all of my clients this simple technique because it immediately dissolves stress and anxiety. Push your stomach out and inhale deeply, filling your lungs as much as you can. Hold that full breath for just a second, and let it out slowly. Do this at least three times and notice how much calmer and relaxed you feel.
Make your first random act of kindness today one that you do for yourself.∎
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Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, Registered Nurse, and Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, Schedule your free Strategy Call Today.