Sometimes we're so busy trying to meet the needs of family members, employers, children, friends, partners or society in general before meeting our own needs, and working to please and care for others, it interferes with our self-care routine. This can take a serious toll on a person's well-being. Many of us feel guilty about making time for ourselves. But when we’re stressed and exhausted, we have less energy to give to others - which actually makes putting other people first quite counterproductive.
Self-kindness and self-care are critical in everyday life, and even more so when we're healing chronic illness. So many of us struggling with skin conditions are suffering from the stress that chaos and uncertainty can bring. Self-kindness, an important aspect of self-compassion, has been proven to help reduce stress, reducing stress in turn improves gut health and good gut health is vital for healing skin.
There's an example of my personal self-care plan below.
What Your Self Kindness Plan Might Look Like
What Is Self Kindness?
The words self-care and self-kindness are often banded about, but what do they actually mean? What does self-kindness look like? Many people define self-kindness as providing for yourself patience, acceptance and caring, but it is so much more than that. Self-kindness involves generating feelings of care and comfort toward oneself and there are lots of practical steps we can take to do that.
“In all the greatest spiritual traditions, at their heart is tenderness, just to be kind inside, and then everything rights itself. Fear rests. Confusion rests.” Pamela Wilson
What Does Self Kindness Feel Like?
What is self-kindness exactly? Let’s start by defining kindness, not with a dictionary definition, but how kindness actually makes us feel. When you think of someone being kind, what springs to mind for you? What does kindness look like to you? What behaviours do you think of when you imagine somebody been kind? What does kindness feel like?
When I think of kindness, here are some of the words that spring to mind:
- good health
You may have other words to add to that list to describe what kindness means to you. Self-kindness involves being accepting of our flaws and inadequacies. It also involves learning simple tools for giving ourselves the support we need whenever we suffer, fail or feel inadequate and certainly through healing from illness.
Soothe Your Body Soothe Your Mind
Well practiced self-care requires that we take daily steps to look after our body and mind. Exercise is an essential underpinning of a healthy lifestyle, improving the capacity, strength, and flexibility of the body. An exercise self-care plan includes the goals of fitness, strength, and flexibility as well as mental wellbeing.
Recent research shows that even a minimal level of exercise is better than none. A regular routine totaling 20 to 30 minutes a day, six days a week can dramatically improve how you look and feel. Choose a type of exercise you really want to do which will help you incorporate it into your daily lifestyle.
Breathing fresh air - I like to incorporate this through my morning exercise. Running outside in nature is my favourite thing right now. It changes my perspective on the day ahead.
Snuggles - the Danish have this wonderful concept of Hygge. Which is all about getting cosy and snuggling down. Doing so beside an open fire with your favourite book, lighting soothing scented candles and hunkering down for a cosy night in can be hugely beneficial. Don't feel guilty about it, this is all about you for a change.
Massage - getting a massage can do wonders for our body and mind. If you're self conscious because of your skin right now, perhaps you would prefer a head massage or reflexology. It's not just the massage itself which can benefit us, it's taking that half an hour or hour out to really concentrate on ourselves. Reiki can also be wonderfully beneficial if you're too conscious of exposing your skin.
Clear Out the Cupboards - okay so on the surface this might not sound like the most wonderfully relaxing way to spend an afternoon, but it can actually work wonders! Decluttering our lives helps declutter the mind. It's like throwing out all that old junk, saying "I want to be this new person" and making a concerted effort to change.
Taking Time to Eat Well - whether it's allowing ourselves the time to prepare the meals we would most like to eat or feeling confident enough to ask for changes to the menu when we eat dinner in a restaurant, remember this is all about you. Don't feel guilty for asking or for taking the time to prepare yourself something different than the rest of the family.
Getting Outside Help - there used to be a real stigma attached to seeking outside help or speaking to a therapist. I think it's much more socially accepted these days. My sisters had an interesting reflection on it, she likens it to one hour of self indulgence each week. Taking 60 minutes just for you, to share your problems, worries and concerns with an impartial stranger who can help give you perspective on things and see things from a different view point. If your mind is feeling a bit jumbled or you're really struggling to cope with the mental aspects of dealing with a chronic skin condition ... it's really okay to ask for help. Therapy can be face to face, over the telephone or in person.
Let me know how self-kindness feels for you. What's important in your life to ensure you are caring for yourself? Post in the comments below.