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Kindness Begins At Home

“If you can't love yourself, how can you love someone else?”

Whenever I hear or read this quote, I can't help but cringe. It's overused and, quite frankly, it's patronising.

But, no matter how many times it's repeated, it's true. You can't love someone else if you don't love yourself.

Similarly, you'll struggle to be kind to others if you don't know how to be kind to yourself. Humans are creatures of habit, and deeply ingrained behavioural patterns. If we don't treat ourselves kindly, then we are fated to treat others the same way.

Western culture has gradually evolved to reward individualism... But humans are naturally social animals. We thrive in groups and communities. Now that so many of us are self-isolating to stop the spread of COVID-19, being kind to ourselves is critical. Amidst all of the uncertainty, and without others to notice changes in our wellbeing, we need to take special care of our physical and mental health.

The UK government's advice is clear...

As we interact less with others, it's important to be aware of how we are interacting with ourselves. This means listening to our 'inner voice' and noting how our routine changes.

If we're able to work from home, for example, are we still getting up and making the effort to get dressed? Are we accepting that we may not be as productive? Are we sticking to normal working hours? And, if we aren't able to use the routine of work, are we finding a way to keep some form of structure? Are we still having regular meals? Are we making time to speak to our friends and family?

Thanks to technology, anyone with an internet connection can have a 'face-to-face' conversation, do a fitness video, watch one of the National Theatre's free weekly performances, or learn a new skill. For those who aren't online, the situation is of course more difficult.

Regardless of whether we have an internet connection or not, it's up to us to find ways to make sure that we keep moving, talking, and moving forward in some way. That way, when we reach the end of isolation, we'll take something positive from it.

Self-isolation may, for some, provide the opportunity to practice self-kindness. At the same time, we can reach out to others and remember how important interaction is as a way to stay healthy – in all senses of the word.

We all deserve kindness, and at this especially challenging time, kindness really does begin at home.

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