You know the importance of being kind to others, but what about being kind to yourself? Being kind to yourself doesn't just make you feel better. The acts of self-care can work wonders for your physical and mental health, relationships, and ability to handle setbacks.
Here are some simple ways to start.
Take care of your health
The first is to simply take care of yourself. Exercising regularly and eating well are all ways of self-care. Importantly, also sleep well! Cultivate good sleep habits. Set aside your electronics for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Block out light with curtains and eye shades. And you know that extra episode of your favourite TV show you just have to watch before bed? Give it a pass. It could be a form of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination that keeps you from getting the seven to nine hours of sleep you need.
Say no to things you don’t want to do
One of the leading reasons for poor mental health in Singapore is burnout. Burnout is often caused by work-related stressors, and might manifest in fatigue, a sense of failure and even changes to sleep and meal habits.
Avoid burnout by setting boundaries. Not able to work overtime? Say no to that extra piece of work. Take a mental health day when things get overwhelming. And don’t stop there. Not feeling up for a big night out with friends or unwilling to do that extra favour for a family member? Don’t. While it’s nice to step up for our friends and colleagues, as the saying goes: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s kinder to them—and to yourself—if you have the time for self-care.
Let go of control
Following schedules, timelines and plans are a great way of getting things organised and done on time. But face it, try as you might, things can still go wrong. Some, we can anticipate, but others—like a traffic jam, a thunderstorm, or even a crying child—we can’t. Being kind to yourself means understanding that, and letting go things don’t go according to plan. Which brings us to the next point…
It’s easy to criticise yourself when you get anxious or stressed. For example, you might blame yourself for a mistake at work, or for forgetting something your child wanted. But ask yourself: If someone you cared about had done the same, what would your response be? Not as harsh, we hope! So catch your self-critic when the negative self-talk starts. Cut yourself some slack—your mental health will thank you for it!
Let yourself be loved
Accepting or asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. If you’ve had a bad day, reach out to someone you can trust for support or a listening ear. If you’re not sure how to do something, ask someone who does. If you receive a compliment, gift, or favour, take it.
In the same vein, it’s okay to treat yourself. Celebrate the little wins in life and indulge a little if you’re feeling low. Because some days, that extra slice of cake might just be the self-care and mental health booster you need.