248 days ago
Many of us have been 'making ourselves at home’ for several weeks now, and whilst some of us are getting ready to reverse this with a return to the workplace, others will be at home for some time longer. Quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines and livelihoods have led to rising levels of loneliness, depression and harmful activity.
This week (18 to 24 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and the 2020 theme is 'kindness'. Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of The Mental Health Foundation, has revealed the power of kindness: “It strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity.”
As we look to show kindness to those in our wider networks this week, we can also take steps in becoming kinder to ourselves. After all, we’re spending a lot of time in our own company.
If you need to give yourself a break or believe in yourself a little more, self-kindness can start with extending the understanding and compassion we give to others to ourselves. But self-kindness doesn’t come naturally to many, and the phrase ‘you’re your own worst critic’ rings true for a reason.
Here are three techniques to get you started:
1. Use positive affirmations (also known as talking to yourself!)
Chances are that you dish out compliments to your friends and family all the time, but when do you speak nicely about yourself?
Saying nice things about yourself in a morning can set your self-kindness mindset for the day.
How to do it – Face a mirror. Choose a positive attribute or a statement that will help you with the day ahead and repeat it three times to yourself. You can try it in your head first, or go straight to speaking out loud (more effective). Referring to yourself in the first and third person, and then by name, is even more effective. For example:
“I will be successful at interview today. She will be successful at interview today. Catherine will be successful at interview today."
Pro tip: Add a post-it note to the mirror with the affirmation written on, to remind yourself each time you come back!
2. Look for useful exceptions
Most of us tend to take criticism in the most general form. If we’re not doing well at one thing, it’s easy to let that grow into a general disbelief in our ability.
Looking for useful exceptions is a helpful questioning technique that can help pinpoint specific areas for improvement, which is more helpful and constructive.
How to do it – If you think you’re not performing well in a certain area, let’s take work as an example, list and assess each element individually. In doing this, you may find that you’re actually performing really well in most aspects of work, but that time management and meeting deadlines is your focus area. Straight away, you have something to focus on and a list of things that you’re quite good at!
3. Protect your time without feeling guilty
Our use of time has changed. Some of us have more of it on our hands and don’t know what to do with it, and some of us are finding we have less to spare, especially for ourselves. We all still need protected time, whether it’s to work or rest.
In an office environment, it can be easier to protect your time with visual clues – headphones in? Not at your desk? These are all signals that you’re not available right now. But that’s harder to show when working from home.
How to do it – Use your Outlook calendar to best effect and ask colleagues to check it before requesting your time. You can also make use of the status tool on Skype. If you need to, protect time in your diary to eat and take breaks, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Be honest about the time you have available upfront, and agree with your stakeholders what the best value use of your time is, so that it doesn’t come as a surprise if you need to say no to something (which we all do from time to time).
Don't forget that Talk, our employee assistance line, is available for you and your families at any time, providing additional support and confidential advice. You can find more information about the wellbeing support available to you on here.
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