If you have a tendency to be hard on yourself, then this sparkly list is for you.
Self-love, self kindness, whatever you want to call it, took on a whole new meaning for me in recent months. Sure, lighting an expensive candle is great, and honestly I can’t get enough of cosy glows and rooms that smell like dreams. But there’s so much more to looking after yourself. Like actually going to the dentist to get that damn tooth sorted once and for all, making sure you eat three meals a day, showering, etc etc.
So today I thought I’d take it back to basics and share 17 ways you can show yourself a little kindness today. Spoiler: None of them cost anything. Wait, no, one of them does. Maybe two depending on the contents of your fridge. Let me start again: Most of them don’t cost a single penny. You can thank me later.
1. Clear your space
Everytime I put my laundry away, vacuum the rug, clean the surfaces, take the recycling out, get rid of the pile of spam mail that I’m never going to open, I feel like a brand new woman. Being around clutter makes my mind feel cluttered, and that does not make for a happy and relaxed Abby.
2. Buy yourself a bunch of flowers
Alright, alright. This one’s a bit of a cliché. But ask yourself this: when was the last thing you looked at a beautiful bunch of flowers and felt worse? Yeah, exactly.
I’ve been meditating regularly for a couple of years now, and I love it. If you read my January Highlights post, you’ll know I’ve been meditating every single day this year, and it’s made such a difference to how I feel. I really believe it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. So download Calm or Headspace and get your meditation hat on. Or, if you don’t want to download an app, just sit still and breathe for 10 minutes. Your mind will appreciate the break.
4. Read a book
Reading is one of my favourite ways to relieve stress. Do yourself a favour, block out thirty minutes, and just sit and read.
5. Watch your favourite film
Get yourself a cup of tea and blanket and curl up on the sofa with Bridget Jones/La La Land/Harry Potter (delete as applicable).
6. Go for a walk in nature
I’m really lucky that I live right by Sutton Park, and a brief stroll around a green space (or the beach, I’m not picky) helps me to clear my head. Plus, it’s exercise. OH, and how can we forget about ALL THE EXCITABLE DOGS YOU GET TO MEET?
7. Dance around your kitchen to your favourite song
If there’s one thing guaranteed to boost your mood, it’s a dance around the house to your favourite song. These days I can be found re-enacting The Greatest Showman in the kitchen. Sometimes I try and get the cats involved so I can do Lion King.
8. Remind yourself of your best qualities
If you’re uncomfortable doing this, that’s even more reason to grab a pen and paper and make a note of the best things about you. Are you calm under pressure? Do you always try to see the bright side? Do you remember everyone’s birthdays? Do you make the best banana loaf known to man? Can you moonwalk?
9. Spend time with someone who makes you smile
Invite a friend round for a coffee, meet up for a chat, go for a walk. Happiness is infectious, so choose wisely when arranging some friend-time.
10. Make a list of your achievements
I do this most days. It doesn’t have to be huge achievements like being nominated for a SAG award, or curing an incurable disease. It can be things like not burning your porridge, staying calm when your condescending colleague is being even more condescending than usual, going to the gym, waking up early, taking the rubbish out even though it weighs as much as a baby elephant and you really want your other half to do it but also YOU’RE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN. It’s nice to look back at the end of the day and see how much you’ve achieved – I recommend it!
11. Have a bath
I love baths. I used to think they were a waste of time when you could be in and out of the shower in a fraction of the time. But now they’re a great excuse to switch off and relax. You could even light that expensive candle we talked about earlier, or read your book. Two birds.*
*On the two birds, one stone saying. As a vegan, I obviously don’t support the idea of killing two birds, with or without one stone. I’ve tried thinking of it as ‘save two birds with one basket’, but I’m not sure that really works. If you have any alternative suggestions, please do share.
12. Eat nutritious, wholesome food
I know sugar tastes nice, but honestly it’s not so nice for that body of yours. Cook yourself a hearty veggie-packed stew, whizz up a smoothie, drink lots of water. Eat an avocado. Drink herbal tea.
Without sleep, I am a broken woman. I had two consecutive late nights last week, and the result was me spending Wednesday wandering around in a zombie-like daze unable to string a sentence together or process any new information. So yes, that was a fun day at work. Treat yourself with an early night. Get away from screens an hour before you plan to go bed, spend some time winding down, and drift off into a nice, peaceful slumber.
14. Enjoy a digital detox
A couple of years ago I realised that I was spending chunks of my time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook on my phone. So, I did a really crazy thing and deleted the app. I’ll just let that sink in for a moment. I haven’t looked back, and I’ll quite often uninstall other apps, put my phone on aeroplane mode, and limit my screen time in the evenings. It helps to quiet the chattering mind, and it’s the first thing I do if I start to feel frazzled.
15. Make a gratitude list
Make a list of the things you feel grateful for. Having a roof over your head, being able to drink clean water, having family or friends, having an income, being healthy…
16. Use positive affirmations to remind yourself everything is going to be okay
We seem to spend unnecessary amounts of time worrying about things from the past or the future, when we really don’t need to. Remind yourself that everything is going to be okay.
17. Give yourself a break
Finally, don’t be so hard on yourself. Give your inner critic the day off. Next time you find you’re giving yourself a hard time, remember this: You’re awesome. And there’s a great list of ways I can be a bit kinder to myself over on abbysweeting.com.