Between work, life and 2020’s array of challenges, it can be hard to find time for you. But when you’re giving it your all, remember to be there for yourself. Practicing self-kindness can help you check-in with your well-being throughout the day and refocus on you. We recently connected with our partner Dr. Rachel Goldman, a psychologist and first-time mom, to bring you tips for incorporating self-kindness into your day. See what might work for you, and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back.

What are a few examples of self-kindness? How does self-kindness manifest for you? 

Self-kindness is any act you’re doing where you are being kind to you—your mind or body. It can be simply taking a few minutes out of your day to focus on you. It could be taking a mental break during your day to take a walk outside, to do some breathing exercises or even to take a bath.

For me, self-kindness is something I do on a daily basis. If I have a full day, I may plan to wake up early to go on a run, but if my body is telling me to rest, then I will be kind to myself and listen to my body. I plan my clinical days in a way that I have 20-30 minutes between each client, or meeting, so I have time to take a few deep breaths, refocus and do what I need to do for me. On the days I’m with my toddler, I like to be as present as I can. I occasionally need to remind myself that it’s okay to let the emails sit. I also make sure I schedule my meals, because nourishing my body is an act of self-kindness. Similarly, drinking my water and staying hydrated, as well as taking my vitamins and supplements, are all ways that I am being kind to myself and doing what I need to be my best self.

Talk about how self-kindness and well-being are related—how can we work on integrating self-kindness into daily life?

We can think about self-kindness as a form of “self-care” and self-care doesn’t need to be as luxurious as a massage or spa day. Our self-care, and needs, also look different given different circumstances. Therefore, I always recommend that we have a toolbox full of tools readily available to us that we can pull from when we need them. Self-care can simply be participating in the health behaviors that we need to do to survive, including sleeping and eating. These small acts of kindness that we do for ourselves can become part of our daily routine, such as when we brush our teeth, we could also take a few deep breaths. Doing this on a daily basis can help us stay calm and avoid burnout.

How do you recommend prioritizing self-kindness over self-judgment, especially in moments of stress?

We need to remember that taking care of us is not selfish, but is truly necessary. I like to think of it as a “healthy selfishness.” If we are not healthy, then we can’t be healthy for anyone else. During times of stress, we unfortunately tend to put ourselves on the backburner, but this is when we start feeling depleted of energy, irritable and burnt out. If we can at least remember to focus on the key health behaviors, or survival behaviors, which consist of our sleep, water intake, the food we consume, movement and self-care and stress management techniques, we can stay afloat. I like the quote ‘If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness,’ and it is so true. We need to have daily check-ins with ourselves and ask ourselves: ‘what do I need now?’ Your routine and self-kindness acts may look different during times of stress, but we still need to take time for us.