Six Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness: Learning to be Kind to Yourself

Six Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

We often talk about showing love to others, especially after reflecting on last month’s Valentine’s Day, but rarely consider the topic of showing love to ourselves. Despite what media may tell us, it’s not a bad thing to love yourself. In fact, I’d go so far to argue that if you don’t love yourself, it’s difficult to really show love to others as well.

As a mother, I can tell you that when I’m not taking care of myself, I’m struggling to care for my family too. It all goes hand in hand. When I do take time out of my day to concentrate on my own needs–prayer/meditation, eating health, exercise, recreational reading, etc.–I have more energy, accomplish more, and have more patience. (Parents know how very important patience can be.) But take those things away from me for a few days and not only do I become a bit of a bear, but I also struggle with that “mother guilt.” We moms want to do it all, and do it all successfully. We struggle to say no, when the exact right answer may be no. We want to help others and be there when we are needed, for family and friends, but we can’t always do that and still keep our own time sacred. If I sacrifice my own time so I can do something for someone else, then I’m a good mom. But if I say no, so I can have “me” time, then I’m a terrible person. Ever felt that way? I’m sure you dads go through this too. It’s hard to get past that guilt sometimes, even when it’s honestly in the best interest of everyone involved.

While I can’t say I’ve perfected the art of self-appreciation, I’m certainly making progress. Here are some tips I’ve learned that may help you learn to care for yourself a little more, while avoiding the “I’m selfish” mindset.

Say No

Six Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness
No is one of the smallest words in the English language, and yet it’s often one of the hardest to say. Sure, you’d love to help with that bake sale or sew costumes for the school play, but do you REALLY have the spare time? What will suffer if you take on these extra projects? Sometimes you not only forfeit your own time, but time that would have been spent with/on your family as well. Ask yourself if this will cause you to be stressed or rushed? Will you benefit from this project, or will it only hurt your possibly already overworked and exhausted self? Odds are, if you say no, all will be fine and they will find someone else able and willing to take on the task. No one will be seriously harmed because you say no. And if someone gets upset because you say no, shrug it off. They don’t live your life, and they don’t have to live with the consequences of the choices you make. This is about you and your peace of mind.

Take time to reflect

Six Not-So-Random Acts of KindnessWhether it’s prayer, mediation, or just sitting quietly with your own thoughts, take time everyday to reflect and empower yourself for the day ahead. Doing this early in the day tends to help you deal with the ups and downs in a much calmer fashion. You’ve had time to repeat your mantras, or remind yourself of your goals and what is needed to achieve them. With these fresh in your mind, you are less likely to make snap decisions or get emotionally stressed. You can also think back to the day before and work through better ways to handle past situations, should they arise again.

Get adequate sleep

Six Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness
A simple search with the keywords “sleep” and “health” will yield page after page of information regarding the need for sleep. We all know how hard it is to really function after a sleepless night. Imagine this night after night, for weeks, months, or years! As a past insomniac, I can vouch for the toll this takes on your body and mind. Make a good night’s sleep a priority. Develop a calming routine before hitting the sack, so you don’t suffer so much from racing mind syndrome when your eyes close. Another, more recent discovery, is to avoid electronics and specific types of lights before going to bed. Research indicates (link: that this exposure to light before bed can suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that signals your body that it’s time to sleep. If you must use electronics in the later evening, you might consider purchasing a pair of blue blocking glasses, which help reduce the effects of the electronics on your circadian system.

Eat healthy

Low Carb Lemon Chicken Recipe
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s so easy to fall into the trap of “I don’t have time right now.” If you don’t have time to cook and eat a healthy meal, you are simply too busy. This is important, not only for the here and now, but for the long run. Nutrition plays a vital role in every aspect of our lives. If we ignore that, we are setting the disease dominoes up and practically begging for someone to kick them over later on. Don’t do that to yourself or your family. Take time to feed yourself and your family a healthy meal. It’s worth the few extra minutes it will take.


CarbSmart Valentine's Day Workout
Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but if you don’t have time to eat right, you sure won’t make time to exercise. You don’t have to dedicate hours per day at the gym to benefit from a daily routine. Even 10 minutes a day will be helpful. But you won’t find this time just lying around – there will always be something else to do. You have to make the time. This falls back to making sure you aren’t overextending yourself. If you can’t find 10 or 20 minutes out of each day for some kind of activity, you are again probably too busy. Slow down. You deserve better!

Stop berating yourself

Seriously, stop it. Would you talk like that to a friend? Of course not! You’d tell them they are beautiful and wonderful and be encouraging. So why do we feel its okay to talk to ourselves this way? Tell yourself that you are okay, just as you are, right now. Sure, you have goals and plans to improve, but you are still amazing and wonderful, just as you are. Your size, shape, faults, failures… none of that determines who you are. Stop letting that negative inner voice have the last word and beat you down. Celebrate what you have accomplished so far. Celebrate WHO you are, not what you are. Love yourself as you are, knowing that while you have room to improve, you are still worth loving right now. Don’t save your self-appreciation for down the road, when things are “perfect”, because I’m here to tell you, life is rarely ever perfect. Enjoy the here and now. Participate in life fully with those you love. Chase that dream now! It’s worse to regret the things you didn’t do, than to look back at the places you stumbled along the way.

CarbSmart Magazine February 2014 IssueArticle also published in the February 2014 issue of CarbSmart Magazine.

Read the full article in the February 2014 issue of CarbSmart Magazine available in iTunes.

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