Be kind to yourself

Dr Julie Denning, Managing Director, W2W


We often think about kindness in the context of giving to others, pleasing other people, small acts of ‘paying it forward’ and looking after or out for someone. In the current situation, kindness has been amplified through our need to pull together and support each other.


While the NHS has set up the Volunteer Responder Service, I have seen the generosity of the British pubic first hand on our road. Almost instantly after lockdown occurred, a neighbour started using our street app for helping other people. The response was amazing. We’ve had people shopping for each other, sharing puzzles, keeping local business alive though street delivery. One neighbour is collecting food and bags for our local food bank, and we are proud to hear that as a street we have been singled out as generous and kind. We’ve done ‘swapsies’ with our unwanted items and have paid people in kind with cakes, plants and reciprocal sharing. People are being kind towards each other. And we feel good about it. Just like the evidence shows.


If you look closely in the article posted by the mental health foundation, there is another form of kindness that we need to also focus on during this important week (and beyond, I might add) – Kindness towards ourselves. How often do you say to yourself ‘don’t be stupid’, ‘you’re being ridiculous’, ‘I should have known better / done better / been better’. All of these statements can be encapsulated in that familiar phrase of ‘being hard on yourself’. Compassion and self-soothing start here. Are you really stupid and ridiculous? At the time could you have known better? Could you have done better? Could you have been better? Probably not.
You did the best you could in the circumstances. And… So what if you sometimes made a mistake? Aren’t we all human after all?


It’s not only kind words that we need to start using towards ourselves. Kind actions are important too. When was the last time you put some time aside for you? Made a decision that put your needs first? Said ‘no thanks’, because you know it’s not good for you to say yes? Doing these things is important. It is making sure you meet your needs too. These are not selfish actions. They are ones that are kindful.
So, my suggestion for action during this week and beyond is to do two things each day:


  1. Show one kindness to yourself. 
  2. Show one kindness to others. 


Notice how doing these two things makes you feel. Notice where you feel better in your body. Notice a different range of emotional experience. At the end of the week, notice how you start to feel better about yourself and the world. Then… Keep up the good work.



Working To Wellbeing (W2W) provides consultancy and intervention for health and wellbeing at work. We provide wellbeing and rehabilitation services, supporting employees with physical health, mental health and long term conditions, the 3 key causes of presenteeism and absence. We join the dots between the physical and mental health issues that cause and perpetuate poor health.

Our specialist clinicians are highly trained to provide a truly integrated service that results in health behaviour change and optimum work capability.