In this post, I want to look at three ways or suggestions to show yourself a little love through a practice called self-compassion. This can take as little as a few minutes a day to do. But before I dive into specific ways to practice self-compassion, I first want to define what it is and is not, and also the science behind why self-compassion is not just a nice idea, but truly beneficial to the overall health and well being.
When many people think of self-compassion they think of self-esteem, making things all about them, or indulging oneself in whatever feels good in the moment. Whereas, self-compassion is actually directed inward and involves being aware of yourself, your struggles, and learning to train your mind to treat yourself well. In fact, self-compassion is the very thing you need when your self-esteem is low, and your struggles are high. You might think this is easy, but actually, caring for ourselves and treating our own minds with kindness can be far more difficult than doing so for others. Just think about how many times you have said a nice comment to someone else but have struggled to give yourself a similar compliment. Or, you spend any free moment you have serving in your community offering help to others but failing to rest yourself. Showing yourself care takes conscious effort, but the rewards overflow to everyone around you! (1)
According to Emma Seppala, who has her Ph.D. in the science of happiness, health, and success, self-compassion promotes overall well being and health through increased productivity and decreased stress levels. Nothing zaps motivation like our own “inner-critic.” When we have torn ourselves down, failure turns into despair, rather than an opportunity to pick yourself up and try again. Self-compassion enables us to have a more positive outlook on life, a willingness to try new things, and the ability to take on new challenges! Self-compassion is the force that helps us to keep a peace of mind approach amidst the harsh demands of life, which in turn, results in a greater overall well-being and productivity level. Likewise, self-compassion also helps decrease stress levels, which in turn can decrease cortisol levels, protecting the adrenal glands for long term health. (2)
Self-compassion can take shape in many different forms. Here are three common ways to get you going:
1. Journal or write yourself a letter
Have you ever thought to write yourself a letter? I am sure you have written a letter to someone else at some point in your life, but what about writing to you? This can be a wonderful way to work on practicing self-compassion. Take time to write out what you appreciate about yourself, as well as your strengths. Then be thankful for those things and encourage yourself by acknowledging them. Perhaps write out some examples as to when you had opportunities to exhibit those character qualities and look forward to the future when you can let your light shine again. If you have a little more time, consider journaling these things each morning or evening, even if only for a few minutes.
2. Meditate, practice yoga, pray, or be still
Another way to show yourself compassion is to meditate, practice yoga, pray, or just be still. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often forget to give ourselves time to just pause, and literally “smell the roses!” This can take a few minutes or a few hours… the choice is yours! I personally love to start my day with some time to be still and calm my mind, preparing myself for the day ahead. This really helps to start on the right foot, with a special effort to re-direct my mind to what is important in my day.
Lastly, get outside, or choose a favorite activity and spoil yourself! Spending time at the ocean reading a book is something I cherish. There is just something about nature all around me, the sound of the crashing ocean waves, and the warm sun, that always boosts my spirits. I love to read books on topics like nourishing foods or how to care for my body well. This adds another layer of self-compassion. Taking time to plan how to better care for your body is also a way to love yourself. Radiant Life has a wonderful selection of books to read, many of which I have. There are also a number of other items throughout the website to check out, such as these grounding mats and yoga products that will help enrich your journey to self-compassion.
Do you have another favorite way to show compassion to yourself? Please leave me a comment below!