World Kindness Day is November 13. Traditionally, it is a time set aside for people to mindfully connect and offer love, support, assistance, etc. to their neighbors, friends, or even strangers. It’s a beautiful concept, and the world needs that now more than ever. Here are a few links about how the day came into being, and how people usually participate.
But here’s the thing – we are living in very unusual times. What’s happening in our country right now, medically, politically, culturally, will have long-lasting effects on our collective mental health. Maybe you have had to distance yourself from a friend or family member over a disagreement in values, or you are too emotionally drained to put any energy into your relationships right now. Maybe online school with your children has taken its toll, and everyone in the house has hit a wall. Maybe you had COVID, or the isolation of quarantine led to depression. Maybe you’re just terrified of what the world has become. Whatever it is that has caused you pain, I want to suggest that World Kindness Day can be about you.
On November 13, consider being especially kind to yourself. There are many ways to engage in self-care, it just takes extra motivation and effort when you are at a low point. Here are some ideas:
Breathe. When you feel that anxiety welling up, stop wherever you are, and take some long, deep breaths. Guided meditation is a great way to get help recentering and calming a chaotic mind. Some apps you may consider are Simple Habit, Insight Timer, or MyLife.
Get affirmation. Sometimes we need someone else to tell us that what we are thinking and feeling is OK. Regular reminders that you are worthy and capable can make a big difference. If you are on Instagram, I recommend @millennial.therapist, @dr.marielbuque, or @somethingnewwithshanti. There is also an app called I Am, that will deliver regular affirmations right to you on your phone.
Chill out. Exposure to the cold has been suggested to help regulate emotions – it’s part of a practice called “TIP” (Temperature, Intense Exercise, Paced Breathing, and Paired Muscle Relaxation). With the temperature aspect, the idea is that when intense emotion kicks in, fill a bowl of ice water, put your face in, and hold your breath. Or grab some ice cubes and squeeze them in your hands, or take a cold shower. The effect is a slowing down of breathing and heartbeat, which triggers a chain reaction inside your body to help elevate your mood. You can learn more about it here.
Put it on paper, with a twist. Journaling is a time-honored tradition of expressing and working through feelings. But sometimes it is hard to get started. An alternative is to set a timer and write stream-of-consciousness for 1 minute 30 seconds. Just scribble out whatever comes to mind, and then when time is up, think about what you wrote, and why.
Use your senses. Turn on some quiet music, light some scented candles, or make a cup of tea, and allow yourself to be still and observe your feelings. Take a few moments to visualize something you are worried about or a conversation you are dreading, and play it out in your head to a positive outcome. There is also an easy exercise called 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 that can help ease your immediate tension.
I hope one of these techniques resonate with you. Most importantly, I hope you will take the time to be kind to yourself, and give yourself a break, if even for one day.
I would love to hear more ideas – just comment down below!