The power of kindness and self care….

Do you struggle to make time for self-care, or feel guilty when you do?

This is an extremely common female trait, and it was very much how several of the ladies felt at the start of my latest 4- week Menopause program.

However, I am now starting to understand the power of it, and to finally understand what Charlie MacKesy meant when he wrote ‘Being Kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses’.  Because what I witnessed over those 4 weeks with this incredible group of women was transformational!

At the end of the 4 weeks, I asked them what some of their biggest takeaways from the sessions were and the feedback included:

‘The importance of kindness and self-care.’

‘That I have to look after me.’

‘The realisation that I matter, and I have the power to make changes.’

My work is all about supporting women to create TINY lifestyle habits to improve their health and wellbeing. I am passionate about it and have spent many years learning from a wide range of experts in health and wellbeing.

However, as a coach my role is not to overwhelm people with information, but to help them take tiny but consistent ACTION.

I also feel strongly that I learn more from all the women I have the privilege to work with than I do from the many books on my shelf, and this group was certainly no exception!

I have recently changed my program to a gentle 4 week program, that starts with focusing on oxytocin, thanks to the brilliant work by Dr Mindy Peltz. She describes  oxytocin as being ‘at the top of the hormone food chain’ and explains how increasing this wonderful kindness hormone has the power to influence all our other hormones. Oxytocin helps to reduce cortisol and insulin, which helps to bring our female sex hormones back into balance.

So, Oxytocin was where we started, and it was powerful!

Many of you will be familiar with oxytocin. It is the hormone we produce in childbirth and breast feeding, but we also produce it when we do kind things, witness kind things, or even think kind thoughts! How incredible is that! I am a huge fan of Dr David Hamilton who also talks extensively about the power of oxytocin and kindness. He says that:

‘The opposite of stress is kindness.’

This is because of the impact oxytocin has on the body.  Stress creates free radicals and inflammation which can damage our arteries and our immune system, whilst Oxytocin has been shown to both reduce free radicals and inflammation, making it powerfully cardio- protective.

This is particularly relevant  to my work supporting women during the Menopause, because oestrogen also has powerful anti- inflammatory properties, and reduced levels of oestrogen makes women more susceptible to heart disease.

Kind inspiration!

I am fortunate to have met and learnt from MANY kind people along the way, but the wonderful Dr Kirti Viswanahan demonstrated to me just quite how powerful kindness really is. One of the members of the group described her as ‘oxytocin in human form’, which is both brilliant and extremely accurate!

I experienced her magic from the very first week when we all discussed oxytocin and how to bring more of it into our lives. My heart was literally bursting out of my chest at the end of that session which started with shared tears, and ended as it was destined to go on with hugs, compassion, and much laughter!

The heart is much more than a physical pump.  It emits powerful electromagnetic signals that can be felt from several feet away. We cannot always put it into words, but we have all felt the incredible energy of the heart when we experience and witness kindness.

Another member of the group said, ‘this is what real wellbeing is’.

Many organisations try and tick the ‘wellbeing box’ for their staff with wellbeing information, but gifting your staff the time to focus on their own needs is a very different thing! Dr Kirti is committed to investing in the wellbeing of her staff because she values them, and cares deeply about their wellbeing. It is a wonderful culture that she has instilled and that has rippled down into all these other wonderful women who were already supporting each other brilliantly.

It is perhaps not surprising to find a group of women who epitomise kindness working in the NHS. This is clearly why they find themselves within such an organisation.

The missing piece it seems is supporting people to offer themselves that same kindness.

Why being kind to ourselves is crucial!

As I have already described, kindness is a powerful agent for reducing inflammation in the body. However, the opposite is true when we DON’T offer ourselves kindness. If we are constantly self- critical, we can just as easily put ourselves in the stress response, leading to increased inflammation in the body, and the subsequent damage to our health…

However, it can be so hard to offer ourselves the same kindness we offer others. For some it feels selfish and uncomfortable. So how can we do it?

Cultivating self – kindness through a habit of self-care

I would love to share a little of what I have learnt from one of my wonderful Nurture Club members, who also happens to be one of the kindest people I know.

She makes me smile every session when she simply says, ‘I’m feeling great’ and ‘I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing because it works!’

She describes her habits as lots of little things, but they include daily gratitude practices, daily exercise, and frequent social connection. She also frequently carries out random acts of kindness!

However, she is also the first to say she prioritises and carves time out for self-care, so in a recent Nurture Club session I asked her how she has been able to embrace that, and she simply said I made a decision a long time ago when I became a foster carer to do it and I have just done it ever since. It has quite simply become a habit she does without thinking about it! As with any new habit it might feel uncomfortable at first, but simply by ‘keeping on doing it’ it will soon become the new norm, and you will start to see the impact ripple out in all areas of your life! We know deep down that when we are the best version of ourselves, that this has a positive impact on everyone close to us. Self-care will look different to everyone, and will depend on our circumstances, but to her self-care looks like regular group exercise that she loves, and regularly spending time with important people and groups in her life. She inspires me every day.

Self-care as a route to self-kindness

When people talk about being kind to ourselves it can feel uncomfortable and out of reach, but again taking intentional ACTION can often be more powerful than consciously trying to think kind thoughts or  to say kind things to ourselves. By making a conscious choice to create TINY habits of self-care (even for 10 minutes) we are sending a very clear message of kindness to ourselves that will have an enormous impact on our health and wellbeing.

We are all connected.

It is so strange that we find it natural to give out kindness to others yet find it difficult to offer the same kindness to ourselves. When we pause to think about it, we were all born worthy of love. We are all equal. The well-known loving kindness meditation honours that and invites us to offer love to ourselves and love to everyone else.

I have recently completed my ‘HeartMath’ coaching course and I am excited to share my heart math journey with everyone. There is so much to share but my biggest ‘aha’ moment during that training was the lovely heart lock in technique. The coach invited us to focus on our heart and simply breathe in love and compassion for ourselves and to breathe out love and compassion for others. It is a powerful technique that I will continue to share.

It can be difficult to put ‘HeartMath’ into words but to me that is the point because it is all about changing how we ‘feel’ moment to moment. It is all about generating heart focused feelings, which is remarkably much easier than you think.

I would invite you all to take that attention away from your mind for just a moment and instead focus your attention on your heart, because if there is one thing I have learnt so powerfully from all the incredible people I am grateful to be continually surrounded by, the heart is very much where it is at!

I would like to finish by sending you all love and kindness from the bottom of my heart, and an invitation to offer this same kindness and self-care to yourself.

I’d love to hear what that looks like to you, so please do get in touch if you’d like to share.

In the meantime, please take good care of yourself. I really hope to see you soon,

Harriet x






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