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self kindness

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self kindness

Refresh Yourself And Get More Done


How often have you found yourself in a situation where you have to perform, but feel wiped out even before you begin? Sometimes it can’t be helped, we’re just called on to do what feels like to much. And when you’re pushing so hard self care is often the first thing to go, which can leave you feeling drained pretty quickly. What can you do to refresh yourself before you’re completely worn out?

Here are a few ways you can re-energize and give yourself a fighting chance at accomplishing all the things you want to do today.

You Are Here!

You know when you step into a one of those giant, multi-level malls and there’s so many people moving around you barely even know where to start? We all know the first thing to do in that situation is to head for one of those huge signs with everything mapped out and that brightly colored little arrow that lets you know ‘You Are Here!”. How comforting it is in that moment to have a sense of where you are in the midst of all that confusion. It just makes the task ahead of you seem that more do-able.

Well, the same thing can be very helpful if your day starts to crowd out and get unmanageable. How can you first one of those brightly colored arrows into your day?

Orient to your space: Look around you, name five objects that you see as you swing your gaze around.

Orient to your body: Feel your feet on the floor, notice your breathing, briefly scan your body and see where you may be feeling any tension/constriction right now.

Orient to time: Check the time, not to invoke a sense of urgency or anything, just note where you are in your day. Are you at the beginning? the middle? are you nearly done for the day?

Orienting to space, time and to your body help give you a sense of roundedness that allows you to respond in a more deliberate way to your situation.

What Have You Got To Lose?

My art studio used to be a whole room, then a half  a room, and now it’s a 1/4 gallon Ziplock freezer bag containing watercolors, a permanent marker, pencil, eraser and pencil sharpener. This shift has been so good to me. I can sit down anywhere and make art on the spot. The limited number of materials forces me to be more focused, I have more clarity as a result of giving myself fewer artistic choices and it also allows me to be more creative.

Sometimes taking a cleaner more minimal approach can open up new options, and more energy, for you.

Spend Time With People Who Support You

“Everyone blooms with respectful, spacious attention and contracts with disapproval, disinterest, and disrespect.”

Pamela Wilson

When we feel stressed out, or filled with worry, we contract our bodies to protect ourselves. Sometimes we  become so tense we don’t even notice it any more.

Spending time with people who are willing to be with us and accept us for who we are, and where we are, allows us to unwind a little. We feel accepted and there is a lessening of our need to contract against the world. We feel safe to let go a little. Holding tension in the body requires a lot of energy and the smallest amount of letting go can release that energy for you. Enough to make a big difference.

Freshen Up!

Eat fresh fruit, breathe fresh air, drink fresh water, wash your face, jump up and down for one minute.

Get active and allow the blood to run through your body and freshen things up.

Press Pause

Allow yourself some time for whatever you need. Rest, some quiet time for reflection, a conversation with a friend. Just exercising your right to have time for yourself is a big step. You’re allowed.

We are often pressured into constant, meaningless movement, for the sake of the movement itself. As long as your busy you are worthwhile.

Too much of that’s not good for you. We do need to take action, of course, but we also need to take time to slow down. You are a reflective being. You need time to reflect and access your own wisdom. That wisdom is often put aside for the sake of getting things done. But too much of that and you start to lose touch.

Have you ever noticed that people who exploit others are always encouraging (or pressuring) the people around them to rush. I suspect it’s so they have less chance to access their own power.

Make it a daily habit to carve out at least a little time to access your own power.

Take A Wide View

You know that feeling when you decide to just head out to the beach and recharge? The feeling of sitting there at the water’s edge taking in the sound of the waves, the fresh air.

Our whole being responds to being near the water. At the water’s edge there is often a panoramic view–the shoreline extends out from where you are in each direction and you look out at a wide, unrestricted expanse of water. There’s less visual clutter and your brain starts to attune to that wide open nature of the moment.

It seems easier to let go of constrictive thoughts and possibilities seem to open up. If not a beach, a mountain top, an open field, or even lying on your back and looking up at the wide openness of the sky can all work just as well.

You Deserve It

It matters that you are looked after and at operating at your full capacity. It’s a gift you can give to yourself, and you are worth it. A reminder: this is not just about getting your projects done, it’s about looking after yourself even when life gets hectic.

self-kindness holidays gift christmas
self kindness

Give Yourself The Gift Of Self-Kindness For The Holidays


The holidays can take a toll on us if we neglect our own needs. It’s easy to get lost in focusing on other people and events, and trying to check all the boxes. The Holidays are a time for connecting with the people we love, and it’s important to take care of ourselves too. Focusing on self-kindness is one way to help get you through the season without feeling too drained.

And it’s not about being selfish, or cynical: self-kindness helps us to be generous and loving to others through the Holidays, while offering the same love and care to ourselves.

So, with that in mind here are seven gifts of self-kindness you can give yourself these Holidays.

The Gift Of Permission

An especially valuable gift is to allow yourself to let go of expectations. Holidays can be a minefield of shoulds and obligations–from self and others. It’s important to give yourself permission to participate in the Holidays in a way that takes into account your own desires, energy levels, and a strong sense of who you are.

This involves consciously setting some boundaries. A nice way to think about boundaries is that you don’t create boundaries to keep other poeple out, you create boundaries for your own energy, to ensure you have what it takes to connect more meaningfully with the people you care for.

The Gift Of Time

The Holidays often descend into a dizzying blur of activity. It may seem impossible at first, but try taking the time to plan a little and slow down. Then slow down some more.

Think about where you might be able to give yourself some time buffers here and there. Can you cut some time from your shopping trip? The wrapping and preparation? Food preparation? Travel? All of these activities can get away from you if you let them. If you can’t cut time out can you spread little breaks for yourself through the time you’ve already committed to?

The Gift Of Space

I remember years back, being in line at a Barnes and Noble bookstore, pretty late on a Christmas Eve. It was jam packed and I can remember the claustrophobic feeling of standing there, people squeezed in on all sides, and a low-grade sense of anxiety rolling through the store. It was such a physical experience.

The holidays are a time where people come together, and hang out in small spaces. It’s worth noting that the people are often gathered together because they are family or friends with a shared history, and this can mean a lot of intense feelings, sometimes positive and sometimes difficult, can come up. That makes it especially important to make sure you can get some space when you need it.

My favorite way to do this is to go outside if possible. I’ll often go stand on the front porch, or in the back yard if there is one. Take a few minutes outside of the packed house, breathe in some fresh air, feel the open space around you and above you. You might be amazed at the difference one or two minutes can make.

If you can’t make it outside, try to find a quiet spot inside where you can just be alone for a few moments–the bathroom, kitchen, maybe a corner of the room where no one else is sitting.

The Gift Of Presence

Christmas is such a sensual time, and filled with beauty, too. Make sure you taste the food, smell the smells, enjoy coming in from the cold into a warm and cozy space.

Connect with yourself whenever you remember to. When you’re seated at the dinner table feel your feet on the floor, appreciate all the faces around you, take in the decorations, be as present as you can for each conversation.

The Gift Of Connection

Make the most of the moment. Who do you most want to catch up with at the family gathering? Who do you want to really touch base with at that party? Is there someone you don’t know who might be interesting to talk to? Keep an eye out for chances to craft your experience so that it resonates for you and others, allow yourself to give what you want to give and receive.

The Gift Of Rest

The Holidays can often take an emotional toll on your body, Whether it’s people you love being around, or not, emotions can get triggered. Underneath everything there’s a whole lot of emotional processing going on.

Be aware of that and allow yourself some downtime to let all this sink in and settle.

The best way to do this is to build in opportunities for rest. Take care to not overcommit to events, or tasks. If you have a long list of things to do, build in mini-rest breaks so you can pace yourself better through the day.

Put time for yourself on your to-do list! Give yourself a half hour somewhere to just put your feet up and recharge before you move onto the next taks or social event. Planning these mini-breaks ahead can really help. (Hint: Other people don’t have to know about this!)

The Gift Of Meaning

Some childhood memories I associate with Christmas include: midnight mass, pillowslips used as christmas stockings, and the slow tempo of Christmas Day spent quietly with the family.

What are the most meaningful memories of the holidays for you? It’s important to remember these and make the most of them. If your memories of the Holidays are not appealing, then give yourself permission to create your own rituals and ways of celebrating.

With the focus on family, and the sometimes overwhelming commercialization, the Holidays can be stressful. Many people are excluded and forgotten in the crush, and it can be the most difficult time of year for many.

In my early twenties I was in recovery from alcohol/addiction problems and feeling pretty alienated. An older member of my local A.A. group took me to a treatment center that had organized a gathering for A.A. members. There was ongoing meetings,free food, and no alcohol around, making it a safe and welcoming environment.

I remember feeling so grateful for the poeple who organized the event, how it allowed me to relax and connect with people and experience a sense of belonging on what would otherwise have been a very tough day.

Reaching out to people having a hard time is a great way to connect more deeply, and remember the real meaning of the Holidays.

Happy Holidays From Welcome Presence

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season. And hoping that you remember your own needs and celebrate as fully as you wish.

Be Kind To Yoursef. Self kindness is self care with a heart. It springs from self compassion. Being kind to yourself is self care imbued with tenderness. Self care tips |
self kindness

Be Kind To Yourself

Every once in a while I make a decision to treat myself with kindness and watch what happens. Here’s what happens: things get better.

When I’m kind to myself there’s a softening, a releasing of actual contractions in my body that are there through the habit of continually pushing through my day.

That softening happens even before I do any actual act of self care, whether that might be taking some time to meditate, to rest, to go for a walk, to stop working and feed myself some nourishing food.

All those actions are helpful as well. But it’s important to know that even making the decision to be kind to yourself has an effect.

Something in you responds to self kindness. Something shifts. You will feel it inside, and it will change how you react to other people and to your circumstances.

When you’re kind to yourself, other people notice. Because you become softer, kinder in your contact with them. The kindness ripples out. You develop fresh habits that reinforce self kindness. That kindness will start coming back to you as people respond (in kind!) until it becomes a self reinforcing loop of kindness.

So, being kind to yourself becomes a way of calling in kindness from other sources as well.

What Is Self Kindness?

Self kindness is self care with a heart. It springs from a sense of self compassion.

The idea of self care can easily become a chore if the heart is not involved, a list of things you do out of obligation to yourself, like a daily maintenance program. Self kindness is self care imbued with a sense of tenderness towards yourself.

That used to sound hard to me

“Be kind to yourself” — if someone had said those words to me when I was 24 I would have let loose on them. At that time I was struggling, a lot. I had just entered a twelve step program and was in the process of getting sober and drug free. I did not feel kind towards myself at all.

Self criticism was running strong and, as my life was falling apart, there was also a sense of urgency to put my own needs aside and get things right. I was doing my best to get on track again but, looking back, it seemed like I was making things as hard for myself as I possibly could.

The idea of self kindness would have been hard to take on at that point, even if I had tried. So I know very well that the journey towards self kindness can be difficult in the beginning.

Some ways it can be hard:

  • You might be working against a barrage of unhelpful internal / external messages: ”I don’t deserve that’ or “You don’t have time for self kindness, you have work to do!”
  • Distractions, obligations, expectations: sometimes you can have so much on your plate already that it seems impossible to carve out more time to practice self kindness, even if you see it as important.
  • indulgence = bad:  We’re told that a lot, and I’ve definitely heard that little message coming up in my own mind, it can be a hard one to ignore. But really,  I don’t think it’s true.

The great thing is that these obstacles to self kindness start to melt away when you apply a little self kindness. Another great thing is that most of us aren’t starting at the beginning, most of us have some experience with being kind to ourselves, some small area in life where we’re able to do that. Finding that place is a great start.

All It Takes Is One Drop

Here’s what I’d say to 24 year old me: “All it takes is one drop.”

One drop of kindness towards yourself, it doesn’t even have to be fully sincere.

5% would probably do. So let’s say, 5% of one drop of self kindness will do to start with.

If you can’t find that 5%, pretending helps. Imagine there is, inside of you, a small drop of something–let’s say mostly water, with 5% of that drop being open to self kindness.

Then get started by acting on behalf of that imaginary droplet.

“Indulge me.” I would say, “Because I’m the same as you, I just learned how to be kind to myself and it made things easier.”

Because all you need to get the ball rolling is the slightest impulse to start. Once you’re doing things in the name of self kindness it starts to feed itself.

How Can You Make It Easier?


Cultivate an attitude of gentle persistence.

Working in the spirit of gentle persistence means you don’t ask too much of yourself. You give permission to make slow progress, and you simply keep going, no matter what. No self criticism, no blame. Just moving gently forward, trusting we are going at the right pace.


Catch those moments when you are being kind to yourself. Sometimes it just occurs naturally, so it’s good to note when that happens. Note down how it felt, what difference it made to you as well. These are useful things to come back to and over time it can be encouraging to be able to look back and see how much progress you’re making.


Set a direction for where you want to go. If you sit down and think of a few ways you’d like to be more kind to yourself then you can plan for that. You can make a time, create a ritual, maybe find a nice setting to do that in, imagine what it will be like beforehand. Setting an intention can be a powerful way to start moving forward.

Know your tendencies

I’m more likely to remember self kindness a little later in the day. Mornings are a blur of activity and I focus on getting the boys fed and off to school, it’s only then that my mind clears a little and I can sense more clearly where I’m at.

That means late morning is when I’m most likely to remember to do a Yoga Nidra meditation, or to write in the garden for a while, so I usually wait till then to build self kindness into my day knowing that fits with my daily rhythm. Again, writing down your observations can be helpful here in finding out the best opportunities to do something for yourself.



Be Kind To Yourself: E-course coming in September

I’m currently in the process of rewriting my course on self care and bringing more emphasis on self kindness, with some new guided meditations and exercises. It will be  happening in September (Sign up to my newsletter in the yellow box below if you’re interested to know more)

And how about you? How do you build self kindness into your life? What helps? What gets in the way?