In divorce, `Random Acts of Kindness’ start with you

By Tonya Smith

I’ve been thinking about kindness as Sunday marks the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week, and Wednesday is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

How we treat others is important — and so is how we treat ourselves. When you’re going through divorce, as most of my clients are or have, I’d submit that being kind to yourself matters. A lot. It’s the difference between saying you will part ways with your spouse with integrity and grace — as many people vow to do at the beginning of the end of their relationship — and actually making that happen.

I’ve noticed that my clients who are able to maintain their integrity and inner peace have something in common. They are kind to themselves.

They tell me they make time for themselves. They give themselves grace and space.

They have a mantra or words of intention that they repeat to themselves, sometimes multiple times a day. They know that how they talk to and about themselves matters, so it’s best to keep it uplifting and kind.

I have my dignity; nobody can take that away from me.

I am valued.

I am worth it.

I got this.

Here are some other ways to be kind to yourself. Randomly, but intentionally, too. And whether you’re in the throes of divorce — or, ahem, just doing your best in this current pandemic life.

Buy yourself flowers.

A friend of mine, who is a small business owner, shared with me that each year she gives herself a bonus. This year she chose a monthly flower subscription to brighten the endless days of working from home. Each month a fresh bouquet large enough to fill two vases will arrive and with a note from herself to herself. You’re killing it.

I love that. And I might just have to steal that idea.

Schedule a day for yourself.

Whether it’s a weekend day or a weekday, make a plan to leave work behind, and do whatever you want. Maybe it’s tackling a home improvement project that you never have time for or cleaning out a closet, because decluttering soothes your soul. Over the summer, I made time — in bits and pieces — to organize my home office, and it totally made me happy and more centered.

Or, maybe you don’t want or need to be productive with your downtime. That’s cool. Binge out on Netflix or Hulu. Read a book. Order take-out from a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. You do you.

Establish boundaries.

Boundaries are another way to be kind to yourself. Take email. You don’t have to be a slave to your email – at work or at home. Over-checking email is stressful and counter-productive, says Harvard Business Review. A better idea is to set regular times throughout the day to check in.

If your soon-to-be ex is constantly sending bullying emails, remember you can help set the tone, by not immediately responding to every single one. This is where that mantra or those words of intention come handy.

Email is just one example where setting boundaries could be a way to be kind to yourself. Others might be declaring certain conversational topics off limits with your friends or family or not working at night or on the weekends.

Find joy in the little things.

It’s OK to start small in your random acts of kindness for yourself.

Maybe it’s taking a walk during lunch or taking five minutes to meditate. Maybe you drive the long way home and crank up the radio and sing along. (So long as you’re driving safely and defensively, I say go for it!)

I recently subscribed to several magazines — Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens. I’d been meaning to do this for years, but never got around to it. It sounds like a small thing, but my joy is big.

I love flipping through my magazines, learning things like how to arrange flowers or organize my spice cabinet. I love perusing the recipes, asking my kids, “Oooh, do you want to try this one for dinner?” Let’s be real; even if I do not DO all of the projects or make all the yummy dishes, the pictures and ideas entertain me and are happy reading.

Go ahead and start small. Baby steps. The important thing is just to start being kind to yourself. Randomly and intentionally.