Being kind to your mind (not just your body)

For most of us, we know what to do to keep our body in shape: eat well, work out and get a good night’s sleep. Maybe have a massage once in a while or see a physiotherapist.

But when it comes to our mind, we’re not always so clear on what to do. We treat it badly and neglect to give it the things it needs like:

Switch-off time

I don’t mean sleep – I mean taking time off from our racing thoughts.
Meditation, for example. Or getting lost in a project (being “in flow”).
Doing something creative and losing track of time.
When was the last time you did this? And how did it make you feel?

Rest and relaxation

This applies to our body as well, of course. But as a society we’ve become obsessed with productivity: – Am I making the best use of my time?
– How could I be using each minute more wisely?
– How can I cram more into my day?!
Yet quite often we forget that we need rest and time out.
We need to pause once in a while.
Sit down for ten minutes. Enjoy a hot drink and read a good book.
Stop worrying that you’re not “doing anything” for a few minutes.
Just be.
Ironically it will make you more productive in the long run!

Being kind to yourself

We can be so harsh on ourselves. That constant voice in our head:
– Why did you say that? That was stupid!
– Everyone else can manage this – why can’t you?
Now I’d like to play a little game. Imagine your mind is a donkey. (Yes, go with it!)
What kind of master are you?
Do you beat and abuse your donkey/mind?
Or do you treat it well to get the best work out of it?
So many of us beat ourselves up regularly. It’s a shame we don’t cheer ourselves on once in a while:
– You can do this!
– Come on, we’re nearly there!
– Don’t give up now!
– Keep going, that’s it… one foot in front of the other.
– You’re doing great!
At the end of the day, YOU are in charge of your mind. It may not seem like it but it’s 100% true.
Be kind to that donkey of yours!

Thinking of other people

This is one of the most underrated ways to feel good about ourselves.
Doing a kindness for other people affects you more than you’d think.
A while ago I started sending random cards, gifts and thank you notes to friends and family.
I also send gifts or notes to companies or people who have provided amazing customer service.
And you know what? It feels great! You can bring a moment of joy into someone else’s life, be on the lookout for good customer service (rather than focusing on the bad) – and it doesn’t even cost that much.

Stop comparing

Imagine you hear these comments said to a child:
Why can’t you be more like Joe?
– Did you see what Gail got in her test? Why didn’t you try as hard as she did?
– Jimmy and Rena are so good and quiet. I wish you were more like them!
How do you think that child feels if that’s all they hear? Likely not great.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. There will always be people who are taller, thinner, prettier, richer, more outgoing, sexier or seem to “have it all.”
Instead, compare yourself to a previous version of you.
Relax. Be kind.
Start thinking of your mind in the same way as your body – as something that needs love and attention.
While I’m speaking of comparing, don’t think that I’ve got this all figured out. I’m not the perfect model of good mental kindness. But I’m trying, and learning and growing – and that’s all we can aim for!

What do you do to treat your mind kindly?
Which of the above rang most true for you?

Claire O’Connor works with people who struggle to get things done. Through her accountability program, she helps them turn their feelings of overwhelm around their project into progress and moving forward. Check out her website for a free guide on how to (actually) achieve your long-term goals.

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