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Education Hub

Be Kind to your body

13 Years & Older

Who is the person you will spend the most time with throughout your life? Who will have the biggest influence on your success and your happiness? It’s you!

Some people speak to themselves harshly because they think it will motivate them to do well, but the science is showing that it is so much better to treat ourselves with kindness.

Being kind to ourselves means that we feel our feelings, we don’t judge ourselves and we understand that things can be tough but we are not alone in experiencing hard times. Learning how to show yourself compassion (called ‘self-compassion’) can be a really powerful tool in promoting your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Being a young person is hard – there is a LOT to deal with in adolescence. As you move through your teenage years, life changes on so many levels. The way you look, how you dress, your friends, what you’re interested in, your favourite subjects at school – all of these things can change in the short and long term.

When we are hard on ourselves about these things, set impossibly high standards that we can never reach or beat ourselves up about our failures, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Having self-compassion means that you are better able to accept and appreciate what’s happening in your life, and have a smoother ride through the storm of change. It is good for you – and it feels good too!

If you picture your Inner Critic sitting on one shoulder, it would be the one saying mean things like “You should have tried harder” or “You’re so bad at that”. Now picture your Inner Cheerleader on the other shoulder – that’s the one that would say “You did your best” and “There are so many other things you are good at”. Being kind to ourselves means that we turn down the volume on our Inner Critic, or stop them from speaking up so much.

When we listen to our Inner Cheerleader more and more, it starts to become automatic – we begin to respond to ourselves with kindness and compassion. We learn how best to soothe ourselves when we are faced with failures or compare ourselves to others. Researchers around the world have found that the people who are kindest to themselves report all sorts of benefits like better sleep, improved physical health, and less stress, anxiety and depression. Oh, and being kind to yourself can improve the way you feel about your body too!

You can start to be kinder to yourself in a few ways.
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    Listen to a self compassion meditations.
This can help you to start to realise what being kind to yourself sounds and feels like.
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    Practice self compassion using writing exercises.
There are some in the activities below.
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    Practice self compassion in the moment.
When you notice your inner critic saying mean things to you, you can stop them, think through what you are actually feeling, think about whether anyone else might have felt this way, and then to say kind words, or do kind actions. See more on the traffic light handout.
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    Find a phrase that works for you that you can go to when times are tough or you start worrying about things – like:
“It’s ok, I’m doing the best I can” or “You tried, and that is what really matters”
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    Try giving yourself some kindness through touch.
This might look like putting your hand on your heart to reassure yourself, or massaging the back of your neck in a tough moment. This helps to activate the soothing pathways in our brain and can calm us down.

Interactive Downloads

Download these free resources to help you embrace your body!

#IHaveEmbraced Pledge Desktop Wallpaper

Doing The
Best That I Can Printable Art

Judge Less
Love Me
Printable Art

Responding With
Self Compassion
Worksheet

Your Self Compassion Traffic Light Worksheet

Treat Yourself With Self Compassion
Worksheet

MINDFUL MOMENTS

Here are some suggestions for getting mindful and tuning out your inner critic. Use your mouse (or finger if you’re on mobile) to see the details!

Lose yourself in being creative.

Sketch, colour, or listen to, write or play music. You don’t have to be the best artist - even creating patterns or colouring in is helpful. Don’t judge your work, just let it flow.

Go for a long walk in nature.

Notice what you can smell, hear, see and feel around you. As you walk, start to notice the things that you appreciate and the things you are grateful for in the world around you.

Download a meditation app and try out some different styles.

You might have tried meditation at school but it can feel different (and easier to focus!) on your own. Trial guided meditation, visualisation or timed meditations with music or sound.

Phone a friend.

Chatting with friends can help you feel less alone, share how you feel, and to feel that lovely sense of connection and belonging.

Journal about the things you are grateful for right now.

They can be big things or small things.Write about why these things are important to you.

Find a way to release your anger.

It’s important that you feel, acknowledge and move through your emotions. If you are feeling angry, find some safe ways to let it out - try boxing, writing it down or telling someone else how you feel.

Breathe.

It sounds obvious, but your breath is one of your best, free, always-available tools for calming yourself down and being mindful in any moment. Start to notice when you feel overwhelmed and stressed, and focus on taking a moment to breathe in those times.

Soothing touch

Ever noticed how good it feels to put your hand on your heart, give the back of your neck a gentle massage, touch your arm softly, or stroke your pet, a fluffy pillow or blanket? Doing these things releases feel-good chemicals and activates the soothing mechanism in our brain - try some of these and notice what feels good for you.

My commitment to myself

I will accept and appreciate my body.
I will fuel and move my body because it feels good!
I know that I have special magic – unique only to me.
What I look like is not as important as what I do and who I am being in this world.
I will Embrace my body and encourage other people to do the same.

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