First of all, merry (late) Christmas to all who celebrate!
Andddddd welcome back to another post. I feel like I start a lot of posts with "this is something I feel strongly about," but I guess I just feel strongly about a lot of things, so here we are. This is something I feel strongly about, and thought it was also something that is kind of looked over in a lot of circles.
I think it's really easy to be hard on ourselves. That sounds super simple and easy to overcome, but when it comes down to it, it's not that simple. We as human beings are hard on ourselves all the time, for so many things. Being hard on ourselves can take so many forms and look like so many different things--from putting too much on our plate to expecting perfection in every area of our lives to belittling ourselves for omitting one part of our thirty-step day--and it's unique for every person. But one thing I've learned over the past few months especially is that it is so important to be kind to yourself in your everyday life, even when things are not going perfectly.
When I went through an incredibly difficult part of my life over a month ago, I wasn't sure how to handle it at first. So I decided to do what I thought would work: I gave myself a day. I told myself I got a day to be sad and mope around my apartment, and then it was back to my normal life.
That first day that I tried to do everything, I made it through two things before breaking down completely. I couldn't do it, and I was so angry with myself for not being able to move on at the pace I wanted to. But I realized that this was something that my brain and body weren't used to, and so I decided to do something else that my brain wasn't used to: I decided to be kind to myself.
I think that there is a huge difference between being kind to yourself and letting yourself go completely. I wanted to let myself go completely. And for the most part, I did. I was sad and lost and hurt and I laid on my couch for a hot second. But I wasn't angry at myself for it. I made myself a few promises that allowed me to be kind to myself while also ensuring that that kindness didn't give way to not taking care of myself:
1. I promised I would eat at least one meal a day
This probably sounds odd. But for the most part during this time, I didn't have an appetite. I didn't want to eat anything other than ice cream, but there was a point where I stood up off the couch and almost passed out, so I knew I needed to fix that. I didn't make myself eat three normal meals a day. It was too much and it would discourage me. So I made myself eat at least one meal a day. And when I ate that meal, it usually gave way to me eating more regular, non-ice cream foods throughout the rest of the day. It was small, and it allowed me to not berate myself for not eating, but also made me do something I didn't necessarily want to do, but had to do in order to take care of myself.
2. I promised I would leave the apartment at least once a day
Again, not a huge feat. But for the first two weeks of me feeling terrible, it helped me to realize I was going to be alright, eventually. Some days this was getting up and going to my shift at work. Some days it was attending classes. Some days it was just leaving to do laundry in the building next door. But whatever it was, I made sure I left the apartment at least once a day. I was kind to myself in that I didn't force myself to do 800 things a day. But I also had structure to my day by way of not confining myself to my apartment.
3. I promised I would do my skincare every morning and every night
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have long struggled with acne. And all sorts of acne at that, to the point where I have different skincare products for topical acne, cystic acne, dry skin, oily patches...everything. But I also don't particularly like doing my skincare. Or, I guess, I used to not like it. It's become something of a nice little routine for me now. But two months ago, it was a chore. So when this event happened that I didn't know how to cope with, the last promise I made to myself was that I would do my skincare every morning and every night. It helped me feel better and not feel like I was disgusting all the time, like I easily could have felt. But it was something I stuck to every day, twice a day, until it became something I enjoyed.
I give these examples because I want to show how easy it is to be kind to yourself. It doesn't mean going to the gym every single day for two hours. It doesn't mean eating a specified number of calories every day (and don't get me started on why that's a bunch of crap in the first place.) It doesn't mean forcing yourself to do things you absolutely hate. It means starting with small, simple things to improve yourself and love yourself. Being kind to yourself means doing things to make you a better person while not hating yourself if you mess up. And especially when big things happen, terrible things that we're not prepared for, it's important to be as kind as possible to yourself. And that looks different for every person. But I am such a strong believer in loving yourself first, improving yourself little by little, and eventually seeing results in yourself. Because if you want to be kind to others, it's important to treat yourself that same way.
**also, afterthought: do things you want to do. The cover picture for this article is me right before getting my second ear piercing, a few days after a hard breakup. I had always wanted to do it, so I...did it. I got my second piercing. I listened to songs I wanted to listen to and wasn't embarrassed that a lot of them were showtunes. A huge part of being kind to yourself is also doing things you want to do, unapologetically, for yourself, and not worrying about anyone else. But if you want to do is like murder someone, don't do that. You know what I mean. Just...yeah. Do things you want to do, and don't feel selfish for it.**