We’re all guilty of being self-critical now and again. Whether it’s our appearance, achievements or something that hasn’t quite gone to plan, we often find it easier to be hard on ourselves than to be kind. And as for praising or complimenting ourselves, forget it!
Even though it may feel uncomfortable at first, showing yourself some kindness is actually a strength.
This was verified in our research, which highlighted that being kind to ourselves—as well as to others—is a great way to improve wellbeing.
With this in mind, it’s about time we showed ourselves a little bit of kindness!
It’s all about being kind
Getting into the mindset of being kind to yourself can take a bit of getting used to. It may feel like you’re being indulgent or self-centred, but focussing on yourself every so often can also benefit others. We all know that smiles are contagious; so if you’re happy, those around you will be too!
Body kindness – outside and in
Although the idea of being kind to ourselves will most likely evoke images of shopping sprees, spa trips, enormous cakes and bottomless prosecco, one of the best ways to show ourselves kindness is through exercise. Yes, trust us here!
Be it a full gym workout, a gentle stroll or an evening of dancing, exercise provides not only physical benefits, but also mental health rewards, too. Kindness both inside and out!
The endorphins released when we exercise are also known as feel-good hormones, and are likened to the feeling when you indulge in a heavenly chocolate bar—minus the calories! So, if exercise makes us look and feel good, it makes sense to prioritise it in our day-to-day routine.
The mental benefits of exercise
To find out more about how exercise can enhance body kindness, we ran a survey asking women what mental benefits they got out of exercising. Here’s what we discovered…
A sense of achievement
The most popular response—attracting votes from 45.2% of the women who responded to our survey—was that exercise gave them a sense of achievement. Go, girls!
Although it can be difficult to motivate yourself to get out and exercise, getting started is often the hardest part. And once those all-important endorphins kick in, you may even find you enjoy it!
Even a brisk stroll around the block will make a difference and you can’t deny the feeling of satisfaction—alright, smugness—once you finish a session. You’ll have certainly out-lapped everyone lazing on the sofa!
Looking after yourself
Increasing cardiovascular fitness and improving muscle tone will undoubtedly help women of all ages live a healthier life. This explains why more than a third of respondents said they felt reassured in the knowledge they were looking after themselves by exercising.
Again, it’s not selfish to look after yourself; it is essential, especially when being fit and healthy puts you in a far better position to look after everyone else.
Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing, so don’t underestimate the benefits you will be getting from that boost of feel-good chemicals.
There’s no denying that day-to-day living can be pretty chaotic, and multi-tasking is a way of life for many of us. Every day can feel like a juggling act while we try to keep a happy work and social life. So much so, there is generally little or no time left to focus on ourselves.
For this very reason, mindfulness has become an important factor in many of our daily routines. What better way to achieve this than by combining it with exercise? Almost a third of women in our survey expressed that they found exercise helped them achieve an improved sense of headspace and wellbeing—be that through meditative practices such as yoga or a restorative run in the great outdoors.
Finding time to exercise—not to mention making the effort to use that time wisely—can take a lot of will power. But, the good news is you will soon see and feel the results of a dedicated workout regime, proving it really was time well spent. This is why 23.4% of women in our survey said the main mental benefit of working out for them was a sense of pride in seeing the results of their hard work.
Having ‘time out’ to focus purely on themselves was what more than a fifth of the women surveyed said they benefitted from during exercise. As well as some much-needed headspace, briefly escaping day-to-day commitments is essential for mental wellbeing, especially if you have dependents demanding your attention 24/7.
Exercising with only your favourite playlist for company is a great way to mentally recharge and return to the ‘real world’—and all it may throw at you—with a renewed sense of vigour.
Get ready, set….
Before you start on a new exercise regime, there are a few practicalities to think about. If you haven’t exercised in a while you will have to start slowly, so it is worth getting some expert advice from your doctor or a fitness professional. Select a class or programme that is suitable for your abilities, or if you are planning to walk or jog, start by choosing a route that is not too challenging. Remember we are talking about being kind to ourselves here!
Ensure that you have the right equipment for your chosen activity; well-fitting, supportive footwear is a must. It’s not always necessary to splash out on a new wardrobe, although you may feel more motivated with a designated kit to put you into ‘exercise mode’. And we are talking about being kind to ourselves, right?
And finally, don’t forget to apply a hard-working anti-perspirant before exercising to help you feel fresh and confident and keep body odour at bay.
So, you know the benefits, what are you waiting for? On your marks, get set, go!