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Well Becoming

a blog about being well, becoming well, staying well - and flourishing. Written by a professor and family doctor living between Liverpool, UK and Granada, Spain

Being Kind to Myself
29 February 2012 @ 10:35

My last post was all about why we are kind to strangers.  Thank you for all your wonderful responses!  

This one, as you will see, is all about being kind to ourselves.  Oddly, it’s something we often find more difficult to do.

Early on Monday morning I had an email from Australia, telling me that my brother Steve is back in hospital.  Probably nothing too serious, some tests to check things out. More news later......  Hmmmmm. 

I set off to work as usual, had a couple of meetings, then tried to concentrate on writing a research report.  By lunchtime I realised I just couldn’t get my head round it, and was making all sorts of silly mistakes. So I went out for a stroll to clear my head.

On the way I passed two colleagues.  I must have looked a bit shaky because they both stopped and asked me if I was OK.  A few years back I would have said ‘Yes thanks, I’m fine’ and carried on.  But I’ve realised that’s not a great way to proceed, so I said ‘No, not really’ and told them why.  I got warm words and a hug. Which was nice.

Instead of walking round the campus, I found myself heading for Costas Coffee. I bought a large hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream, and a lemon drizzle muffin.  Back in my office I thought I would drink the chocolate and save the muffin for later.  But I didn’t, I scoffed the lot - and felt much, much better.

Cycling home in the rain (surprisingly enjoyable when you’ve got the right gear on) I detoured up the hill from Netherfield Road to St George’s Church. It’s a tough climb for me, and I’m always puffing and panting – but this time I managed to get to the top without stopping. And then, the pure pleasure of freewheeling down Everton Brow. 


 

Then it was off to my Tai Chi class in our local community centre.  As always it was a lovely session, five minutes of meditation followed by half an hour of  balancing, calming movement.


 


 

So, without really planning it, I found I’d created my own new well-being recipe for the day.  Human comfort, comfort food and drink, a bit of a physical challenge and then some deep relaxation.


 

Different things work for different people, but the basic message is the same. We need – and deserve – to look after ourselves, as well as looking after other people.  Kindness goes in all directions.

How would you have been kind to yourself, if you’d received that sort of worrying news?


 

P.S. I’m pleased to say that Steve is OK.  It turns out it was a minor hiccup rather than a major setback.  



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2 Comments

Patricia (Campana) said:
29 February 2012 @ 21:41

Christopher. I am glad to hear your brother is well and that there was no serious health problem. I always look forward to your blog posts. They are positive, heart-warming and give food for thought.

You are right. Many people find it extraordinarily difficult to be kind to themselves. And yet if one is kind to oneself chances are that one will be kind to others. It is the simple experiences you describe which constitute the little kindnesses to yourself. We get knocked sideways by worrying news, the ups and downs of life, the general business of living in an imperfect world. We do need and deserve to look after ourselves, and that includes telling others - as you did - when having a bad moment, so that we get that support in the form of a kindly word or gesture. Doing the stiff upper lip stuff in the form of "I'm fine" is in fact a recipe for anxiety and depression.

I would have done (indeed have done) much the same as you when faced with difficult moments and worrying news. Get outside in the fresh air, have a good coffee or tea, and go to the exercise or dance class.

It is unfortunate that not so long ago being kind to oneself was a guilt-ridden affair, rather dubiously indulgent, not to be encouraged. A number of socio-religious factors were responsible, as I am sure you are well aware.

So, let's hear it for kindness, to ourselves and to others.

Best wishes
Patricia









Chris Dowrick said:
01 March 2012 @ 00:25

Thank you Patricia, and for your comment on the earlier post too. Much appreciated.


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