As a Registered Nurse and Psychotherapist, I find clients are often very self-critical, hard on themselves and play the ‘should’ blame game. I ‘should’ have done more, I ‘should’ know better, I ‘should’ have known this. We all do it. Unfortunately, for clients who struggle with mental health issues this negative inner critic can result in low self-esteem, depression, guilt and shame.
Not too long ago a client shared an issue with me in which she was berating herself
over an event she experienced. After we talked about it, I suggested that she show
herself more grace and kindness. Exasperated, she asked, “How do I do that?”
Many of my clients ask the same question. In my experience as an RN
Psychotherapist, I find the following suggestions helpful and especially so now, in
the world we are living in.
How to Be Kind to Yourself
We all make mistakes. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. It is okay to make
mistakes. It is okay to not have a good day. You deserve it. Give yourself grace and
kindness. Permit and allow yourself to let it go.
Take Care of Yourself – Be a Friend:
One of the best ways to show yourself kindness is to take care of yourself. Be a friend
to yourself. Get enough sleep, take brief naps, eat healthy and exercise. Choose a
healthy way to release stress. Watch a funny show or movie on Netflix.
Acknowledge yourself when you have completed a project or created something. You
deserve to praise yourself. When you achieve something give yourself a moment to be
proud of what you have done. A question I often ask my clients is, “What are you most
proud of?” You might want to write in down in a journal (See journal suggestions below).
Be kind to yourself by soothing yourself. Here are some ideas:
Take a bath
Light a scented candle
Play some calm or fun music
Curl up on the couch with a book and a blanket.
Tame Your Inner-critic:
Allow yourself ten minutes a day to be aware of the negative thoughts then put them in
a mental “box”. Replace the negative self-talk with an inner positive dialogue and write
in down in a journal book.
Choose a journal book that you like and on a daily basis write down affirmations. Here
are some examples:
“I am worthy.”
“I am a good person.”
“I am enough”
“I deserve to be happy.”
Keep Your Dreams and Goals Alive:
The pandemic will end.
Organize your dreams and form them as goals. Create a plan for achieving those goals.
This is another great way to use a journal book.
Perfection is Not Realistic:
Accept and love yourself for the good, the bad and everything in between. This is the
best way to be kind to yourself.
You deserve it. Clean out that messy closet that’s been annoying you or organize your
dresser drawers simply to feel more organized in a disorganized world during the
epidemic. Some people feel better when they can keep busy and have something to
show for their time and work.
Go for a walk, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the world around you. Being outside can be
a great stress reliever.
Try it. Take a deep breath, hold it momentarily…slowly exhale following your breath. Taking three deep breaths when you are being negative, hard on yourself and stressing
Where are you right now? Try being ‘mindful’. Be aware of the things around you. The
smell of your freshly brewed coffee or the sound of birds chirping outside. Take a
moment to be fully present. Anything can be a chance to be ‘mindful’.
Feel Your Emotions
Check in with yourself. If you are sad, feel the sadness. There is no right or wrong way
to feel. Try gratitude. It’s an attitude. What are the simple things in life you are grateful
Make Time for Yourself
Be kind to yourself by giving yourself some “me time” each day. Every day carve out
some time for yourself and do something that brings you joy and makes you smile.
Draw or sketch, colour with your kids (who doesn’t love the smell of a Crayola crayon),
journal, write a poem, play that guitar that’s been sitting around. Do something you love
to do. Make time for rest, relaxation and fun. Take an hour out of your day or even ten
minutes. Schedule it in your calendar so you get a notification.
Suggestions for Journalling:
Prompt yourself with these suggestions:
What is in your control? What is not in your control?
What do you want to let go of? How will you feel when you let go of this?
What are you hanging on to (tightly)? Why do you think you are doing this?
How can I change or let go of the things that are not working for me?
Working with clients who struggle with mental health and substance abuse I find the
biggest obstacle to mental wellness is asking for help. You are not weak if you ask for
help it is a sign you are strong. If you are struggling during the pandemic, there is no
need to do it alone because you don’t want to burden family or friends. Reach out and
call or text a friend who is a good listener.
During this unprecedented time, we all need to be a caring friend to ourselves. Talk to
yourself in a kind way. Find the grace and kindness inside you.