Things haven’t been easy. On top of the stress around contracting the Coronavirus, losing work, and homeschooling your kids, you also can’t go out to enjoy the city the way you use to. No coffee shops, shopping malls, or gym memberships. The activities that kept you sane before are missing now. There’s this huge loss of freedom that has occurred, and it can all begin to drive you a little mad as transitions and losses do. In these times, be gentle with yourself. This is a perfect time to jump-start or bolster your self-compassion practice. Every day, incorporate mental health strategies such as this one to keep you on the wellness path.
Self-compassion is an essential skill that strengthens psychological well-being. Compassion means to come alongside the suffering of another, and in self-compassion that other is yourself. Sit with yourself, hold your heart, your hand, or give yourself a hug while offering words of comfort. You may tell yourself, “This is really hard right now”, “I’m here for you”, or “It makes sense that you’re upset”. Offering kindness to yourself seems so simple that perhaps you’re having the judgment now that it’s stupid or that it wouldn’t help you. You can then have self-compassion for yourself when you’re struggling to have self-compassion. For example, you may say, “I don’t think this will help me. It’s frustrating”. Let your feelings be what they are. This is compassionate.
It’s likely that you tend to beat yourself up to be better. I know this because this is something human beings revert to. The rule seems to be, “Avoid what isn’t pleasant. Make it better”. This forceful approach doesn’t work long term, though. For example, maybe calling yourself lazy, “Don’t be lazy. Get up and do something!” motivates you in the moment, but it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that will ensure more laziness plus self-hatred later. Instead, try to be kind to yourself instead.
There’s a paradox within this concept. When you can accept yourself and your present-moment experience as is (even when it’s unpleasant), then you can readily begin to progress. However, your goal with this practice must be acceptance of what is, not changing what is. Accept your reality, be with it, feel it. You’ll come to realize that you can tolerate even your most uncomfortable feelings, which makes you resilient.
Anyone can practice self-compassion and the research suggests that it’s truly worth cultivating due to its positive effects across a wide range of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Self-compassion increases life-satisfaction, hope, body appreciation, and even immunity, to name a few. It is a source of strength and resilience necessary for well-being. In fact, low levels of self-compassion are linked to negative outcomes, such as poor mental and physical health. So, give yourself compassionate touch, breathe mindfully, speak kindly, and know you’re not alone in your experience.
To work with an Orlando counselor to develop healthy routines for your self-compassion and self-care, contact us today. You can also reach the author of this article, Krista Knowles by email or for more information visit www.self-compassion.org.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.