Five Ways to Be Kind to Yourself and Others
Rebecca Robin, IIN Content Editor
Recognize the power of kindness.
Kindness is more than doing a favor for a friend or giving a portion of your paycheck to charity. Kindness is the quality of being loving, genuine, and empathetic – and spreading this energy into every area of your life. But in order to really show kindness to the world, you must first be kind to yourself, which begins with taking care of yourself and your personal needs.
Being kind can actually help you become more in tune with your emotions and overall well-being, and it encourages fostering more positive and meaningful relationships in your life. By being kind, you create a ripple effect that not only spreads to others but also makes its way back to you to transform the way you feel about yourself.
Here are five ways to express kindness for yourself and others:
1) Practice gratitude.
Gratitude can be found anywhere and everywhere. It starts with recognizing the seemingly minor details of your daily life – from the first breath you take each morning to your ability to move mindfully, express yourself, and create opportunities for learning and growth.
Gratitude can provide greater self-awareness as well as clarity on how to better understand your emotions and how you interact with others. Within this understanding is where kindness is born and bred as you can circle back to a sense of gratitude when you find yourself leaning toward negative thoughts or energies.
Try putting together a list of 2–3 things you are grateful for each morning. Use this gratitude as a foundation to create a positive mind-set for your day.
2) Check in on your mental health.
Your mental health and well-being are foundational for the health of the rest of your body. When your mental health suffers, it can manifest in symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression, such as headaches, fatigue, indigestion, and brain fog. Eventually, chronic inflammation can occur and, while not a physical symptom, can wreak havoc on our health. Chronic inflammation is a threat to our body’s health and immunity and is the root cause of chronic health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.
Taking care of your mental health requires being proactive and – you guessed it – kind to yourself. Find moments to promote relaxation with a good book, participate in a meditation session, recharge with a walk around the block, or prioritize hydration. These are all simple acts of kindness that fuel your body’s mental and physical capabilities and promote health in the long-term.
3) Be more mindful of the foods you consume and your surroundings.
We each have unique needs and qualities that impact our health – our bio-individuality – that inform the kinds of foods we eat and the environment we thrive in. One aspect of being kind to your body is being aware of the foods and surroundings that make you feel and perform at your best (or those that don’t promote these good feelings).
Putting this into practice can be simple. If you’re experiencing digestion issues, try cutting out dairy or adding more whole grains and fermented foods to your diet. If you find yourself feeling increasingly anxious or uncomfortable in a certain social setting, evaluate whether you want or need to engage with the people or things that cause you to feel this agitation. These are the small, kind gestures that keep your body at its optimal health.
4) Speak kindly to yourself and others.
Your words can have a profound effect, so it’s important to be mindful of the language you use. The science behind the power of words explains how each and every word we speak creates sound waves and transmits messages into the atmosphere. Words contain inherent positive or negative connotations that can result in energy shifts.
This also extends to how you speak to yourself. We often put ourselves down for not doing something perfectly or failing to accomplish a goal. But imagine the positive impact we could have on our emotional well-being if we began speaking with more compassion and kindness! A famous inspirational quote sums up this concept: “If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to people can do?”
Put this concept into practice by using your words intentionally. Give compliments, express thanks and gratitude, and refrain from unnecessary gossip. When speaking to yourself, use positive affirmations such as “I am enough” or “I am grateful for my health today.” As yogis have shown, our words can be a source of love and light when we integrate the concept of mantras and positive affirmations within a yoga or meditation session. When you send positive energy into the world, it will often return that positive energy right back.
5) Listen more by giving your undivided attention and support.
Expressing kindness goes hand in hand with having compassion, a powerful quality that allows you to understand and deeply feel for what another is experiencing. Learning to listen more attentively and providing unconditional support for your loved ones contribute to the ripple effect of kindness. Those who practice compassion are generally resilient individuals who understand that genuinely connecting with others can impact the way one feels about themselves.
Go beyond listening by becoming an “active listener,” which means not waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can say what you want, but actively engaging and picking up verbal and nonverbal cues from the other person and suspending judgment. In practice, active listening looks like maintaining eye contact, repeating the main point(s) made by the other person to confirm you’ve heard them correctly, and following up with either an open question or a simple reflection statement to make it clear you understand what they’re trying to say.
By providing a nonjudgmental listening ear or acting as a cheerleader on the sidelines, you are going the extra mile to become a messenger of kindness. In turn, this can positively affect the way people respond and relate to you on a personal level.
Create a ripple effect of kindness.
A kind and loving attitude starts with a personal choice. Kindness will flourish when each of us shows love toward ourselves and then extends that love toward others. As a happy and healthy individual, you can more effortlessly give and show kindness every day. Eventually, it becomes a natural part of your daily interactions, relationships, and work.
At IIN, we talk about the ripple effect of health and happiness, which is being spread around the globe, one Health Coach at a time. Kindness is a key component of living a holistic and healthy lifestyle because you can amplify your diet with nutritious foods or clock in more hours of exercise, but these aren’t as impactful when you don’t incorporate primary food, the nourishment you find outside your plate that shapes you into a kind and resilient person.
Download the IIN Curriculum Guide to learn more about how you can embody a healthy, happy attitude to complement your holistic health goals.