If a friend was upset, you wouldn’t want them to beat themselves up over it. You may have advice that you know they find helpful - or sometimes all they need is a hug.
The same applies when you are upset. You may feel you are judging your emotions, leading to you piling up more difficult feelings. Or you may just feel sad. Perhaps you want comfort, and don’t really know where to find it or how to ask for it. Sometimes it might be hard to know what you need!
You could try treating yourself differently, offering kindness to yourself. This could be in the form of calmly ‘telling’ yourself or your difficult thoughts a kind thing. You could pick out something you’re proud of, and remind yourself of it, or you could say something nice to yourself that you know others often say to you.
It’s important to try not to argue with your negative inner voice - this might make it worse. Instead, you could gently repeat an affirmation, either out loud or in your head. This could be something like ‘let whatever you do today be enough’, or ‘I don’t have to change myself’. Whatever works for you, whether it’s simple or complex.
Self-kindness can also be called self-compassion, being your own best friend. How you use it really depends on you - are you struggling with critical thoughts and want to remind yourself of nice things? Or perhaps you really need a pick-me-up like a treat. Just like if your friend was upset, you would try to find what would help them feel better, and do kind things for them. Action for Happiness have monthly calendars with positive actions which may help provide a daily reminder to be kind to yourself.
Self-kindness won’t necessarily stop your thoughts or feelings from being difficult, but it might provide some small comfort in the midst of them.
What young people have told us:
'It's ok to make mistakes, it's ok to think of myself.'
'It reminded me of the time when a trusted and valued family member said the same thing: let what you do/have done today be enough!'
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.