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November 02, 2021

You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.  


Believe it or not, this is the first thing they taught us during my meditation teacher training. And so, along with the training on meditation techniques, we also learned ways to take care of ourselves.


It’s so true. And we know it.  Taking care of our health, eating well, exercising, getting proper sleep is absolutely critical to well-being. But still sometimes we either forget it or ignore it. 


Life is hard. Stress is ever present, in one form or another, even if it’s just lurking around the corner. Stress can most certainly be caused by outer circumstances…work, family, finances, relationships, life, etc. But often the biggest cause of stress is from our own inner world, the pressure we put on ourselves, the fears we create for ourselves, the way we speak to ourselves, the self-criticism and self-doubt.


Even if we take care of our health, we can be our own worst enemy. I know…I used to be extremely hard on myself. My inner self-critic was always very vocal,  that nagging voice of self-doubt was often present, never feeling good enough, worrying when I didn’t really need to, wishing I'd done things better/different/not at all etc., etc... You know what I mean. Just listen to your own self-talk.


Mindfulness practice trains us to see things as they are, to notice our thoughts and emotions, to notice how we react to the various situations we face every day.  We can’t always change the outside influences. But we can change how we face them.  And we can definitely work on the stress that we create for ourselves.  


We get to choose every single day how we want to feel, how we want to face the world. It’s a question of perspective and attitude.  I consciously choose joy, every single day.  It makes a huge difference to how I live my life now.


And we can choose to practice one of the most important forms of self-care: and that is SELF-KINDNESS. 


Just be kind to yourself.


To authentically spread kindness and joy to others, we have to start by being kind, patient and loving to ourselves.  And it's something we may struggle with.


After years of living with stress, from the outside and from the inner critic, I’ve discovered the joy and the serenity that comes from self-kindness.


Here is what you must do every single day: offer yourself the same love, care, respect, understanding and compassion that you would offer your best friend. 


Because you deserve it.  


And it doesn’t have to be complicated. When I say self-kindness, I don’t mean “retail therapy” and I don’t meant you need to head to the spa every weekend.  You can create small moments, practices and rituals.  It just takes thought and perhaps creating a little extra time for yourself in your day.


My first model for self-kindness was my grandmother. She had a series of small self-kindness rituals that allowed her to sleep well, to remain serene through the day, and to enjoy each moment.  As a child, I watched her massage Noxema into her feet and hands every single night before she went to sleep. A ritual that took just a few minutes, but she did it with care. And every single morning she took her breakfast in bed on a beautifully prepared tray. It was my favourite summer thing to do, to join her in bed for breakfast with my own small tray.


Please be kind to yourself!  Here are 30 easy and practical self-kindness ideas to make sure you treat yourself with the love and compassion that you deserve. Every single day. These small and simple self-kindnesses can make all the difference to how you feel and how your day evolves.


The key to turning these gestures into self kindness is the awareness and the careful attention you do them with. Notice the sensations, notice how you feel. Use your mindfulness practice to stay with your experience, so that you can turn it into precious moments of soul-care.



  1. Wake up to joy, wake up and smile… welcome the day, its beauty and learnings, however it may unfold for you.  


  1. Start your day gently. Stay in bed for an extra five minutes, awake and aware of the sensations of this early morning experience. Revel in the comfort of the duvet, the softness of the sheets, the scent of cotton pillow cases, the morning sounds, the smell of coffee, enjoy a cuddle from a loved one. Then get up and move on with your day.


  1. Drink a big glass of water as soon as you wake up.


  1. Offer yourself breakfast in bed, with a beautifully prepared tray, your favourite tea or coffee and some delicious, healthy food. And just enjoy the moment. I started as a child with my Grandmother, and I’m still doing it.


  1. Practice morning yoga. As you move mindfully from one pose to another, yoga is an opportunity to cultivate the qualities of loving awareness, patience, kindness, and compassion for yourself, and then you will have more of these gifts to share with others that you meet during your day.  If you haven't yet created your personal home practice, this can be your first act of self-kindness.  HUM is here to help, click here for a very helpful free resource.


  1. Let go with the letting go breath. Release the tensions you carry in your body, the worries and concerns you carry in your mind, let go of whatever may be holding you back. Here’s how. Take a deep inhale through your nose, and let it all out through your mouth, like a great big sigh - do this three times, with a nice pause in between each one. Notice how your body feels as you do this letting go breath. Feel your shoulders relaxing down, your whole body releasing any tensions it might be holding on to. Letting go is freedom. 


  1. Stand in Mountain Pose…anywhere. Standing in mountain pose (tadasana) is a mini moment to yourself to connect with the earth, to ground yourself in the present moment. If you have to stand in line somewhere, stand with intention in Mountain Pose. It’s a way to turn those moments of waiting into a few free moments of self kindness.


  1. Wear red shoes.  Red is the colour of the root chakra.  It's vibrant and joyful, uplifting as well as grounding, inspiring and auspicious.Red shoes can make you feel like solidly grounded in joy so that your creative soul can soar to the stars and beyond.  So make sure you have at least one pair of red shoes in your closet.


  1. Send yourself a bouquet of flowers. You deserve something beautiful today.


  1. Believe.  Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities and talents, believe in what you are doing, believe in miracles. Remind yourself regularly with tokens or inspiring objects.


  1. Smile at people as you walk down the street…and enjoy the connection with a stranger when you see them smile back at you.


  1. Rest in a restorative pose, any time during the day that you need some comfort or a soothing break. A pose such as Child’s Pose or Savasana will give you a few moments of peace and calm, to reconnect with yourself. 


  1. Practice gratitude daily.  Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest and best ways to be kind to yourself. Just by recognizing and appreciating all the goodness you have in your life you will feel more joyful, you’ll invite more good things into your life. Try it, right this minute: think about three things you are grateful for.  And remember to thank your lucky stars every day.


  1. Take your lunch to a beautiful place…a park, a river-side bench, a rooftop deck, a beach, any spot that inspire you and enjoy the view. Make it extra special and invite someone you love to join you.  This is something you need to do if you usually eat lunch at your desk.


  1. Just breath.  Your breath is your anchor throughout the day, always present for you, life-giving, supportive.  There are many breathing practices you can try out.  Or you can simply come back to your breath regularly to find your calm, to feel grounded and present.  


  1. Burn some Palo Santo to invite positive energy into your space and life, cleanse away any negative energy and invite in the positive. Just be sure to choose sustainably harvested Palo Santo.


  1. Arrive early. If you have an appointment, arrive a few minutes early. This will avoid the stress of rushing. And this gives you a few extra moments of freedom to just breath, or even stand in Mountain Pose to get grounded.


  1. Write yourself a love letter, a sweet note to remind yourself of how beautiful and awesome you are, and how far you have come on your journey. You could tuck it into your wallet to carry with you, or have it on your altar or sacred space. How does it feel to write yourself a love letter?


  1. Spend time in nature. This is perhaps one of the most caring things you can do for yourself. You can go for a wander, listen to the wind in the leaves or the crash of the waves, you can pick a bouquet of wild flowers or look for wild mushrooms. You can hug a tree. Or meditate by a stream. Getting into nature forces you to look closely, to notice, to be aware… and all this will immediately reduce anxiety and stress, and give you a deep sense of simple and pure joy.


  1. Do something kind for someone else. Do something kind for a stranger in need, give an extra big tip to a good server, volunteer at a retirement home, babysit your busy friend's kids so that they can escape for a night on their own...your imagination on how you can be kind to others has no limits!  


  1. Invite yourself for afternoon tea.The British really know how to do it. They make afternoon tea into a daily ritual, a break in a busy day, with some sweet indulgences and often shared with friends. Try it yourself, at 4:00 pm. Choose a favourite tea, maybe a fancy tea cup and perhaps something nice to eat with it. But don’t just grab your tea and go back to what you were doing. Stop. Sit. Even if it's for 5 or 10 minutes.  And lean fully into the experience of your tea, all the sensations of it, appreciating the small but special occasion you are offering to yourself. 


  1. Send yourself some loving kindness.Meditation is a window of peace and quiet, an opportunity to connect with your higher self and with your endless possibilities.  Try a Loving Kindness meditation, starting with yourself, repeating the following: May I be happy, may I be well, may I be free from suffering, may I be free to grow.  You can then offer the same loving kindness thoughts to others.  Start your daily meditation practice today!


  1. Take your shoes off as soon as you walk in the door and slip your feet into some super comfy slippers. 


  1. Soak your feet in a basin of warm sudsy water for 20 minutes. Add a few drops of soothing and calming essential oil to make the soak even more lovely for your feet…and your soul.


  1. Choose a favourite essential oil for a diffuser or a few drops on a cotton ball. Essential oils are like the soul of the plant, and when you bring them into your home, you can entrain with the higher vibrations of these pure essences. And your home will smell divine.  Just be sure to use pure and (ideally) organic essential oils.


  1. Listen to soul-soothing, beautiful music. Choose your music carefully.  Avoid angry, negative lyrics and prefer upbeat, friendly, or soothing music.  Why not try a sound bath experience?  A sound bath is done with crystal singing bowls, gongs, chimes, tuning forks and various other instruments. 


  1. Make yourself a celebration dinner. Why do we wait for special occasions to treat ourselves well? Get some quality ingredients, a beautiful bottle of wine (or even some champagne) and make yourself a gorgeous gourmet meal. Take the time to appreciate and celebrate your day.  There is always something to celebrate!


  1. Eat slowly and mindfully.  Take the time to really notice the colours, the smells, the tastes and the textures of whatever you eat. It’s better for your digestion. Better for your taste buds. Better for your appreciation. 


  1. Reconnect with your higher self through the power of incense.  Light a stick of all-natural incense and watch the beautiful filament of bluish smoke, envision it rising up and reconnecting you with your higher self. Like an offering to yourself and to your highest potential.


  1. Do nothing.  Sometimes doing nothing is the kindest thing you can possibly do for yourself. Instead of being busy, instead of scrolling on your phone, instead of talking or doing…just sit, do nothing and enjoy this space of freedom and peace.



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