As we gear up for the biggest holiday of the year, many of us can easily get stressed out or anxious about travels, family time, presents, and work. There are many coping mechanisms to deal with all of this stress and anxiety, but when it comes down to it the answer is kindness.
Studies show that kindness lowers blood pressure, stress, and anxiety and increases energy levels, serotonin, and overall happiness. There are even studies that claim that spending your own money on other people will bring you more happiness than spending it on yourself, which is perfect for the holiday season! Ultimately, when you’re kind to another person, you’re also being kind to yourself - win win for everybody involved!
Kindness doesn’t just mean helping someone cross the street or buying someone coffee, it also means being kind to yourself. Kindness starts from within, with self-compassion. When we foster self-compassion we are able to perform authentic acts of kindness towards others. Our act of kindness than become something that is not just to make ourselves feel better, but so our friend, parent, brother/sister, community, or planet can be happy.
Before spreading your kindness out into the world, take some time for yourself. Here are 5 ways you can practice self-compassion this holiday season.
1. Buy yourself a present. Have you been eyeing that new pair of shoes or really needing a massage? Well ‘tis the season! Treat yourself to a special gift, even wrap it and place it under the Christmas tree with the other presents!
2. Acknowledge Your Achievements. As we near the New Year, look back on this past year and acknowledge what you have achieved. Don’t spend time thinking about what you didn’t do or what you wish you would have accomplished - be gentle to yourself. No matter how small your accomplishments, acknowledging them is on of the first steps towards appreciating yourself in a more positive way. Being to congratulate yourself daily for everything you do and every day you’ll start to feel happier and more positive about yourself.
3. Start a gratitude jar / journal. Every day write down one thing you were grateful for from that day. It doesn’t have to be something big or life-changing, it can be the simplest of things that you’re grateful for. Getting yourself in that mindset will really help to see how you view the world. For example, being grateful for something as simple as going to work and having a job will change your perspective moving forward.
4. Move your body. Connecting with your body is so important and one of the kindest things you can do for your body is to move it. Stretch in the morning when you wake up to get your blood flowing, walk around your neighborhood, go for a jog, do yoga, go hiking, go dancing. Your body will thank you!