Friendships are not only healthy for our emotional health, but for our physical health as well. However, as we all go through life, our priorities can change and we can sometimes feel as though we don’t have time for friends, let alone time to be a good friend to yourself. While making time for friendships is important, caring for yourself is vital to stay rooted and maintain energy enough to engage in all other parts of your life.
The following article covers how you can be a good friend to yourself, whether that looks like finally starting individual therapy or challenging a negative mindset in other ways. Read on to learn more about the benefits of friendship and how you can become a better friend to yourself and others.
1. Take time for yourself
You’ve probably heard about the importance of self-care and taking time out of a busy schedule for yourself. In the modern world, this is especially true. It can even be a protective factor against burn out as well. Taking time for yourself could range from reading a book you’ve been wanting to pick up, scheduling a massage, taking a walk around the block, or even slowing down to make a nice meal. When we take time for ourselves, we are reinforcing a sense of self-worth.
Alone time can also help you gain clarity through stressful times, and it can help bring a deeper understanding and empathy to what you are going through. So even when you don’t feel like it or it feels hard to do, make a date with yourself to do something that feels good to you. After all, it always feels nice to know you matter.
2. Don’t believe everything you think
In difficult times and especially in times of stress, our minds can become a mess of frustrating thoughts. The brain is notorious for taking short-cuts to help understand what is happening in what is also commonly known as cognitive distortions. In cognitive distortions, the mind will look for answers to complex problems and arrive at conclusions that may not be based on all the facts. It is helpful to take a step back and ask yourself if what you are believing about yourself or the situation is true. Mindfully separating from the story you are telling yourself can be a profound way to gain more self-comfort and validation.
3. Practice self-compassion and forgiveness
Showing ourselves compassion can feel awkward at times. For some reason, it often feels easier to be understanding of others and extend grace, than it can be to show the same compassion for ourselves. Kristen Neff, a psychotherapist and leading expert on self-compassion explains that self-compassion can lead to less worry, inner strength, and resilience. It can give us the courage to change in ways that resemble the life we want to be living. Self-compassion isn’t letting ourselves off the hook when we’ve done something disappointing; self-compassion teaches us that we do not need to abandon ourselves and that we are deserving of unconditional positive regard.
4. Speak with kindness
Have you ever heard the saying, “would you speak to a friend like that?” Most of us can attest to hearing this when we’ve been caught speaking unkindly to ourselves. The words we use matter a whole lot. They matter to us and they matter to others. We wouldn’t be very comfortable with a bully who follows us around all day in our home, so why would we allow our inner monologue to belittle or criticize us? Speaking unkindly to ourselves can fester shame and sabotage our chances for happiness. Sometimes this bad habit can fly under the radar, so it’s helpful to practice mindfulness of the words you may be allowing to live inside your own head.
5. Recognize and keep your boundaries
Strong emotional reactions usually indicate you have an unmet need or a boundary has been crossed. Boundaries are limits we have for ourselves and others that safeguard our rights to respect, dignity, and security. For example, if we begin to feel resentful after a team member is continually late to your work meetings, it may be time to have a conversation around the expectations you have for attendance and boundaries around your time. When you express your boundaries to others, you give them a change to respect you. When you keep your boundaries with yourself, you show yourself respect that you are deserving of.
If this article was helpful to you, reach out to our care team for more information on our individual therapy services. Our counselors would be happy to connect with you and support you in your goals. Get started today.