27 Ways to be Gentler With Yourself

As we explore self-compassion and kindness, sometimes we need actual ideas of what we can do today or even right now to improve.  There are actual mental and heart shifts the come with being self-compassionate.  This is a matter of honoring your limits and celebrating your strengths.  In short, it’s letting yourself be more human.

However, if you need practical, applicable ideas to start embedding self-kindness into your life, consider the list below.  Look for the ones you CAN do, and let this be play.

Try it out.  If it doesn’t go great, try it at a different time or just try a different one instead.

  1. Set your timer for a minute and just sit, feeling your breath.
  2. Don’t volunteer yourself for one extra obligation this week.
  3. Get off social media.  If you’re prone to comparing yourself or dwelling on how others are doing it, give yourself an evening, a day, or a week with a break from social media.
  4. Go for a walk–around the house, around the block, or around the neighborhood.  Towards the end of your walk, look for the ways your body feels better.
  5. Do something the slow way.  Being a little indulgent (you say inefficient, but I say indulgent!) with our time can remind us to stop and smell those proverbial roses.
  6. Schedule some time (in person, online, with a letter, or in your mind/heart) with the person who “fills your cup.”
  7. Stop right now and list everything you’re grateful for.  When you feel like you’ve got it all, find two more.
  8. Dress up in the clothes that help you feel like your best self.  You don’t have to get fancy, but shower and wear what helps you feel confident.  And if you feel “all dressed up with nowhere to go,” treat yourself to a cup of tea and a book at your nearest coffeeshop.  Places where we can be with others while being alone are great for times like that.
  9. Catch your white lies and choose to be honest (with yourself and with the other person) instead.
  10. Doodle.  No crossing out, just keep doodling.
  11. When you hear the “this is how I should be” ideas creeping in, recognize whose voice that actual is (a parent’s?  a partner’s? society’s?).
  12. Smell things: the flowers, your food, or even the person (or dog) you’re hugging.
  13.  Look at your schedule ahead of things you have told yourself you must do and try to identify one that you can take off your plate or reduce in its size.
  14. Ask for someone to take something off your list or to be with you as you do it.  Chances are, not everything on your list has to be done by you alone.
  15. On social media, follow a few people who inspire you and unfollow a few people who don’t.
  16. Take a few deep breaths after you get into the car.
  17.  Incorporate one single healthier replacement today (an apple instead of candy, a walk instead of a cigarette, a kind thought instead of a criticism).
  18.  Say “hey” to yourself in the bathroom mirror and spend a few seconds looking into your eyes.
  19. Schedule a session with someone who helps you take care of yourself: a massage therapist, a good friend, a psychotherapist, a hair stylist/barber.
  20. See if your library has a free app or website where you can listen to audiobooks. Choose one that helps you escape or helps you get perspective on something bothering you (relationships, anxiety, parenthood, etc.)
  21. Go for a walk and take some twists and turns to go where you haven’t gone before.
  22. Set a timer for 5 minutes and use that time to tackle the task you’ve been dreading.
  23. Sit with your cup often or coffee or water and use all five senses as you finish it.
  24. Rub your feet, arms, and head. Maybe even use a little oil.
  25. Turn off the radio when you drive.
  26.  Plan for some extra time before or after a meeting so that you can just be.
  27.  Actually say the words and complete the sentence, “I’m glad I…”
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