Self-Compassion for Well-Being
As the coronavirus pandemic moves into another month, our lives continue to be impacted on a daily basis. The loss of normalcy and sense of control can be creating even greater feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, sadness and grief, and these continuing emotions are likely to further disrupt our functioning. Many of us, however, may still have very high expectations of ourselves to be able to manage everything—our work, families, emotions—perfectly. This can lead us to experience high levels of self-guilt and shame when we are unable to meet those idealistic goals.
Self-compassion is the ability to recognize when we are struggling and to take steps to care for ourselves the way we would for a loved one. Self-compassion is not self-pity or selfish. Rather, it is a healthy way to allow ourselves to be imperfect and to actively respond to our own needs. Self-compassion consists of three main components:
- Mindfulness—the ability to be in the moment and recognize and validate our true feelings,
- Self-kindness—the ability to care for our own needs in healthy and positive ways, and
- Common humanity—the ability to connect with others so we can recognize we are all in this together.
Research conducted at Stanford University has demonstrated that a lack of self-compassion results in an activated stress response and a lower ability to manage our emotions and behaviors. The researchers also showed, however, that when individuals practice regular self-compassion, they have a greater sense of control and well-being especially during times of crisis.
So, what are some steps that all of us can take to develop self-compassion during this difficult time? First, recognize that life is difficult and scary right now and that it is okay to have those feelings. Second, honestly acknowledge how your life and ability to cope have changed because of COVID-19. Third, allow yourself time and space to practice daily self-care, including basic hygiene, relaxation, hobbies, exercise and stillness. Finally, maintain connections with others to remember that you are not alone and that when we share support, we are stronger together. For more information and resources about self-compassion, please visit: https://self-compassion.org/.