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Being Kind to Ourselves

Now you may be wondering what being kind to ourselves has to do with our sleep? Actually it has a LOT to do with good sleep. When we are NOT kind to ourselves, that's when our self-care and support routines fall by the wayside. It's also when our negative self-talk can add to feelings of anxiety, guilt and unhappiness, which can then contribute to stress and arousal instead of relaxation and good sleep.

For just one day, my challenge to you is to be aware of how you speak to yourself. For best results, you could write down what you hear yourself saying, or at least record the overall tone. Do you call yourself names? Is there any phrase or idea that comes up over and over again?

Then, reflect on the effect those words and tone are having. Are they helping you to feel good about yourself, to feel encouraged? Are you being kind to yourself?

Sometimes when things are going well, our self-talk can be positive. But when we make a mistake, when we are in pain or under stress, or we feel that we’re struggling, that’s when our inner critic comes out. Ironically, these times are when we need to be kindest to ourself rather than self-critical.

So how can we change how we talk to ourselves? How can we become more kind? Read on for some easy strategies to try.

When you are struggling, or when that voice of criticism comes into your head, imagine yourself as a little child. How would you speak to yourself if you were only 4 or 6 or 8 years old? What tone would you use? How patient would you be? Then, using this kind and patient approach, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What do I need? In particular, you want to find out what you need from yourself. A rest? A walk? To phone a friend? Sometimes we need time for this answer to bubble up. In the meantime, you can ask the next question.
  2. How do I care for myself already? By recognising what you already do to support yourself, you can extend that support into your more troubled times. When you are under stress or struggling, doing something that makes you feel good in your regular life can help you change into a more positive and self-caring state. You may be surprised at how much a simple caring behaviour can help.
  3. What advice would I give to a dear friend having this same problem or situation? Then follow your own advice. Often we are much tougher on ourselves than we would be with a friend. We need to be our own best friend!

The great thing is, how we speak to ourselves is something totally within our own control. It can be challenging to retrain ourselves to speak kindly after possibly a lifetime of self-criticism, but if you or others have treated you poorly in the past, this is all the more reason to make being kind a priority. With practice, it will become easier to speak kindly to yourself, and others. By doing this, you are making your world a kinder place to be. And THAT will help your sleep!


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