Embodying kindness impacts others around us, but we should not forget to be kind to ourselves too.
Many organisations participate in corporate social responsibility (CSR) through volunteer programmes and donation schemes. These efforts encourage us to be kind to others. Yet, in our attempts to do good, we have often forgotten to be kind to ourselves.
Workplace stress is on the increase. A 2016 study by Roffrey Park found tha not only do Singapore workers spend more hours at work relative to their Hong Kong and China peers, but more than half (52 per cent of Singapore workers surveyed) say their stress level has gone up over the last six months.1 There is a co-relation between our work habits and stress.
We are certainly not kind to ourselves if we stress ourselves out. Before we can be kind to others, we should first be kind to ourselves. Being kind is a way of making our own lives, and the lives of others, meaningful. It allows us to communicate better with others, be more self-compassionate, and also be a positive force in other people’s lives.
There are many health benefits when we are kind to ourselves. Research has found that people who practise self-love and compassion not only experience less stress, but have a lower heart rate and blood pressure, and a stronger immune system. 2
Happy, balanced, and successful people practise self-love and compassion. Here are three ways of how kindness to ourselves can be practised in the context of the workplace.
1. Bring Your Whole, Authentic Self to Work
Many of us are too concerned with what our colleagues and bosses think and expect of us. To impress others, we put on a façade which is not our true self. By doing that, we subject ourselves to the stress of living a double life. This may hinder us from truly being happy and successful at work.
Authentic people are genuine and consistently true to themselves. They know what they value and they are purpose-driven. They are not embarrassed to show their true self to others, and others feel safe and comfortable in their presence.
We can take small steps to start being more authentic: relate beyond the routine of work. Find a time where you and your colleagues can share about things outside of work—your values, culture, hobbies, aspirations and family—without being judgemental.
2. Build Resilience to Better Handle Life and Work Challenges
What makes some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis? Research shows that resilient people think differently. They have a set of skills (both learned and innate) that allows them to persevere, manage stress, and triumph in the face of challenges. 3
Resilient people have strong reserves of inner and outer strength. They are consistently conscious of seeking new ways to build strong personal foundations so they may weather the storms of life and work. They do this through increasing their awareness of how to care for themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
In the pursuit of excellence and success, we are vulnerable to stress and burnout. Keeping our mind and body healthy is one way to handle that vulnerability.
Taking time for self-care includes intentionally carving out time for yourself every day and doing something that brings you joy. Facing each day with a heart of gratitude helps us to be thankful for what we have, and motivates us to become happier and stronger individuals.
3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
People with positive attitudes are optimistic no matter what the circumstances are, and they exude enthusiasm and confidence in their actions and words. They approach life as a learning journey, believing they are in control of their lives. They choose how they should respond to their surroundings, looking for the best in any situation.
Studies have shown that people with positive attitudes also tend to be more productive at work. 4 This is because they see the opportunity with every challenge. They have greater resilience and have the ability to inspire and motivate themselves and others.
On the other hand, a negative person cultivates thoughts that drain them of energy and keep them from being in the present moment. They focus on the flaws in situations, and are generally moody, grumpy, or cynical.
We choose the attitude with which we view our work. And this determines how much we enjoy our jobs and the people we interact with at work.
It is never too late to start being kind to ourselves. When we embody kindness from within, we will start to see that it naturally impacts those around us, and we will find it easier to be kind to others.
1 Siow LS, 27 August 2016. S’pore workplace stress on the rise: survey, The Business Times, Accessed via http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/spore-workplace-stress-on-the-rise-survey.
2 Donvito T, 12 surprisingly powerful health benefits of being nicer to yourself, Reader’s Digest, Accessed via https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/being-kind-to-yourself/.
3 Burton V, March 2013. 4 Things resilient people do!, Valorie Burton, Accessed via https://valorieburton.com/2013/03/4-things-resilient-people-do/.
4 Seppala E, 18 March 2015. Positive teams are more productive, Accessed via https://hbr.org/2015/03/positive-teams-are-more-productive.
Copyright © 2018 Singapore Institute of Management