3 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion can make a person feel more energetic, alive, and optimistic.
Right up there with being able to make spaghetti and wash your own socks, practicing self-compassion rates as a vital life skill. With self-compassion, we are able to accept that though we are imperfect beings, sometimes in pain, and occasionally train wrecks, we still deserve our own loving care. According to a new study out from the University of British Columbia, self-compassion can make a person feel more energetic, alive, and optimistic. “Psychological stress can be mitigated with self-compassion because it enhances our psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which in turn, enriches well-being,” wrote Katie Gunnell, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. For this week’s Healthy Habit, here are three ways to practice self-compassion.
- Question your assumptions. Are you assuming no one else fails? Failure is a common experience for humans. Are you afraid you won’t be motivated or successful if you aren’t super critical with yourself? Do you feel selfish if you give yourself a little TLC?
- Release some oxytocin. Hug your arms around yourself, touch your heart center, stretch, or go get a massage. Being touched releases the hormone oxytocin, which reduces stress and boosts the sensation of security.
- Build your own mantra. In her book Self-Compassion, Kristin Neff, Ph.D., a well-known expert in the field, suggests coming up with your own mantra. Here’s one she created, as an example: “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment.”
Experts will tell you to treat yourself as you would your very best friend, with kind words and no judgment. These days, we may need to up the ante, and treat ourselves as we would a lover, with not only kind words and forgiveness, but also flowers, long walks, and the occasional chocolate.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Her latest book is Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!, a science and natural history “gross out” for young readers.