5 ways to be kind to yourself

If you’ve been surfing around the internet lately, you might have come across the buzzword gratitude and it triggered some mental images of people doing yoga or holding hands, etc. I’m a huge fan of the idea of being thankful and accepting and giving appreciation. However, as a current UNC graduate student, I’ve seen (and experienced) that it’s often easier to express gratitude to others than to be kind to our own selves….

So, last semester, I started adding some ‘be kind to yourself’ practices to my everyday school-work routine, and I was not only feeling much less anxious day-to-day, but I was actually 100% enjoying school. I want to share some of my tips with you so that you can all be kind to yourselves and THRIVE this semester.

Bill Nye pointing upwards
Photo: “Stabilo pen″ by jbid. Flickr Creative Commons.

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING: These tips can lower anxiety, help you focus on your schoolwork, and allow you to get to bed earlier! However, please be realistic, flexible, and forgiving. Don’t stress. These are just suggested exercises. Like most exercises, you’ll get faster, better, and more comfortable with practice.

1. Set yourself a time to finish all of your homework by each night.

Allow yourself ample time to do all of your work, make time for meals, and give yourself at least 1 hour to relax and wind-down before going to bed.

2. Set yourself a time limit for reading assignments.

First, only read assignments that are due the next day. Second, give yourself a set number of hours to complete the readings (I give myself 2 hours). Third, count the number of readings you have to do. Fourth, set small goals for each hour (“I will read 2 articles for the first hour and 3 articles in the second hour”).

3. Only EAT while you EAT!

Take time to enjoy your meals and not think about school or work! Try not to do work, check emails, answer calls, or text while you eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Take this time to catch-up on Gilmore Girls on Netflix or to relax to some good music.

4. Schedule in fun time – and feel GREAT about it!

I remember my pre-med days as a UNC undergrad, and it seemed like my life consisted of studying, sleeping (sometimes), and eating. If I was doing something fun, I would feel guilty or feel that I should be spending my time doing something productive. Well, FUN IS productive! As long as you’ve figured out a good balance that works for you, sprinkling in some fun activities in your calendar will keep you motivated and hopefully minimize some stress.

5. Add a little color into your life.

I’m talking PENS y’all! I’ve started using colored pens for note-taking (and stopped bringing my laptop to campus). When I take notes, they look pretty and I enjoy looking at them. It’s that simple! If you enjoy what you’re looking at, you can pay attention and focus longer. It has made note-taking and studying way more fun for me.

A cup of colorful pens
Photo: “Stabilo pen″ by jbid. Flickr Creative Commons.

So, I hope that in addition to expressing gratitude for others, I hope you add some kindness to your own life.

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