I love the word kind. It sounds like a nice word. It sounds like something you want to be. And I love that so many people inspire so many others to be kind. Walking a dog for a neighbor who is unable to. Shoveling the sidewalk or driveway for an elderly neighbor. Dropping off a coffee and a warm meal for the new mom. These small, thoughtful acts beautifully define kindness.
And there are those who take it to another level, like the 900 cars that participated in the pay-it-forward behavior at the Dairy Queen drive-thru in Minnesota, and those who regularly participate in the Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17 and World Kindness Day on November 13.
CNN even issues The Good Stuff newsletter every Saturday that highlights only the good news in this crazy world, especially the kind things people are doing for each other.
But when did kindness become something we only do for others?
We try so hard to show up every day and get it all done. The housework, the schoolwork, your day job, taking care of the kids; the list can seem endless. When you cross off one thing, two more get added to the list. And in our world today, where everyone is stressed and anxious, most people are rapidly burning the candle at both ends, forgetting to pause to take care of themselves.
So, what are you doing for you? How do you ensure you can continue to do what you need to do every day, to give what you want to give and be the kind person you are?
The answer is obvious: self-care.
But self-care has developed a bit of a bad reputation. It’s not all spa days and checking out, handing the hard stuff over to someone else so you can have a break. Self-care is not selfish.
In fact, self-care allows you to show up and be kind to others. Self-care means taking care of yourself so you can be healthy, help and care for others, and be more confident, focused and successful in your day – and because you are worth it..
There are so many phrases that try to illustrate the importance of self-care, but one that provides the best visual is you can’t pour from an empty cup. You cannot continue to be kind to others when you have no energy left to give.
Without self-care, you burnout. You feel deflated. Sometimes, you may even become demoralized.
So this month, when everyone talks about love and kindness, take a moment to turn it inward and focus a little care and attention on yourself. Try to put away the feelings of guilt and instead, realize that a well-cared for you helps you more successfully deal with the challenges of your day, including the recurring care of others.
Try this: what is something you love to do and wish you had more time to do? Be honest with yourself. It could be something small like reading (or re-reading) a favorite book. Maybe it’s taking 30 minutes for a yoga class, or walk outside before you get started on your day. Maybe it’s visiting family or friends on the weekends to lift your spirits.
Whatever that one thing is, write it down and at the top of your page, write “My Self-Care Act.”
How will you make time for it, do it and then check in on how it made you feel?
Challenge yourself to love yourself, to be kind to yourself, to give yourself some grace. After all, you’re only human and you need to refill that cup if you want to share it with others.