On World Kindness Day, we usually talk about sending a message to a loved one, or doing something kind for someone else. But this World Kindness Day, editor Liza is talking about being kind to yourself.

Cancer and its treatment can change how your body looks and sometimes, how it works. This, in turn, can affect how you feel about yourself. Many people find they start to have a negative view of their body. But there are things you can do to build a more positive body image. In this blog, we’ll share some ways to be kind to yourself about your body – today and every day!

People of any age or gender can have body image concerns. Changes caused by treatment may be short-term, or they might be permanent. Changes can also be things that you see or notice, but that are not obvious to other people. Or things that are not visible at all. But even seemingly small changes can feel very big to you. That’s why it’s important to be kind to yourself.

1. Be kind: Remind yourself that feeling down, is feeling normal

You might feel:

  • anxious about people’s reactions
  • worried about going out
  • less feminine or masculine
  • angry or sad
  • like you’ve lost a part of your identity.

Being kind to yourself includes reminding yourself that these are all normal feelings. Try not to criticise yourself for feeling this way. It’s okay to not be okay. And reminding yourself of that is kindness, too. Talking about how you feel with friends, family, or with a professional can help you address your emotions and learn how to manage them. You could also try a talking therapy, like CBT, or mindfulness.

This is a quote from Aurelie saying, talking to a counsellor every week helped me put into words all the emotions I was going through. It helped me deal with my fears and frustrations, and empowered me.

2. Be kind: Give yourself time

Adjusting to any change takes time. It can help to set small goals and keep a diary. Small moments might not feel like much at the time, but if you can look back and see your progress, it can be encouraging.

Each goal should be:

  • personal – this means it important to you
  • realistic – this means you feel ready or able to deal with it
  • achievable – this means it is realistically possible
  • measurable – this means you will know you have achieved it
  • specific – this means you have thought about the details that will help you achieve it.

You can break set short-, mid- and long-term goals. Start with small steps, and repeat them until you feel able to move on to the next step. We have more information about managing anxiety and other feelings.

3. Be kind: Challenge unhelpful thinking

Everyone has days where their mind runs away with unhelpful or inaccurate thoughts. It’s not unusual. But if it becomes your only way of thinking, it can affect your mood and make you ignore positive experiences. Learning to recognise unhelpful patterns means you can start to change them. Ask yourself things like:

  • Is what I am thinking definitely right? What is the evidence?
  • Am I jumping to conclusions, or only seeing the negative?
  • How might someone else see this situation?
  • What would I say to a friend in a similar situation?
  • What would happen if I thought about things a little less negatively?
  • What can I do to change my situation? Is there a possible solution that I am overlooking?

For example, you might be able to change: ‘If I can’t eat a full meal, there is no point in going to a restaurant with my family.’ to ‘It would be nice to go out with my family and I can ask for a small portion of food.’. We have more information about changing the way you think.

3. Be kind: Work on a positive relationship with your body

You will need time to adjust. But part of being kind to yourself is taking care of yourself along the way. This can help you develop a more positive body image. You could have a relaxing bath or spend time somewhere peaceful. Or you could:

  • look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself you are a whole person – try not to focus on the parts of your body that you don’t like or have changed.
  • write down the things you appreciate about yourself – this could be physical (what it lets you do each day, or what it has done for you in your life) or about your personality (being a good friend, having a good sense of humour, being creative).

World Kindness Day is a good day to remind yourself to be kind to your body. But don’t let today be the only day. Regularly treating yourself with kindness can help you change how you feel about your body.



We have more information coping with changes and challenging unhelpful thinking in our booklet Body image and cancer. We also have advice on caring for your body during treatment in our booklet Feel more like you.

You can also use our Directory of Information Materials for People Affected by Cancer. It has details of over 1,900 booklets, leaflets, books and audiovisual materials for people affected by cancer. It is regularly updated and you can use it to search for our resources and those from other organisations.

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The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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