Mental & Emotional Health
4 Ways to Boost Your Self-Compassion
Take a moment to think about how you treat yourself when you make a mistake or fail to reach a goal. If you tend to beat yourself up when things go wrong, you, like most people, can use a little more self-compassion in your life.
Forgiving and nurturing yourself seem to have benefits in their own right. They can even set the stage for better health, relationships, and general well-being. So far, research has revealed a number of benefits of self-compassion. Lower levels of anxiety and depression have been observed in people with higher self-compassion. Self-compassionate people recognize when they are suffering and are kind to themselves at these times, thereby lowering their own levels of related anxiety and depression. Here, from the experts at Harvard Medical School, are tips for treating yourself with the kindness you deserve:
Learn to have self-compassion
Some people come by self-compassion naturally, but not everyone does. Luckily, it is a learnable skill. Several methods have been proposed, and training programs are being developed, to help people discover and cultivate their own self-compassion.
Here are four ways to give your self-compassion skills a quick boost:
- Comfort your body. Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest. Massage your own neck, feet, or hands. Take a walk. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a dose of self-compassion.
- Write a letter to yourself. Think of a situation that caused you to feel pain (a breakup with a lover, a job loss, a poorly received presentation). Write a letter to yourself describing the situation, but without blaming anyone — including yourself. Use this exercise to nurture your positive feelings about yourself.
- Give yourself encouragement. Think of what you would say to a good friend if he or she were facing a difficult or stressful situation. Then, when you find yourself in a similar situation, direct these compassionate responses toward yourself.
- Practice mindfulness. Even a quick exercise, such as meditating for a few minutes, can be a great way to nurture and accept ourselves while we’re in pain.
For more ways to draw on your strengths and find the positive meaning in your life, buy Positive Psychology, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.