woman taking a self-compassion break

How to practice self-compassion

Does it ever feel like everyone else seems so much more put together than you? Do you wonder sometimes if there’s an “adulting” guidebook that everyone else got a copy of?

Feeling overwhelmed?

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Life can be seriously overwhelming – and it can be more difficult when we become our own worst critics.

Taking time for some self-compassion can help, says Vicki Kamhi, LCPC, a counselor with Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

What is a self-compassion break?

A self-compassion break is a few minutes to yourself that can help you gain perspective and figure out your next step.

“You can use a self-compassion break whenever you’re struggling with a difficult situation or are feeling an overwhelming emotion,” said Vicki.

To start, find a comfortable, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes.

Then say the following three phrases silently to yourself. Make sure to take time in between these phrases to reflect on your experience.

‘This is a moment of suffering’

This first statement helps you acknowledge what you’re going through.

“We all tend to push away unpleasant emotions,” said Vicki. “This helps you be aware of your emotions and focus on what you’re feeling.

You can use other language if you want, such as:

“I’m having a really hard time right now”

“I’m feeling sad.”

“I’m afraid.”

“I’m so frustrated.”

‘Suffering is a part of life’

This second statement reminds you that everyone has difficulties in life – something that is particularly true during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“When we say this phrase, we remember that we aren’t alone,” said Vicki. “Our difficulties are part of our shared human experience.”

Other statements could be:

“Everyone feels this way sometimes”

“We’re all struggling during the pandemic.”

“This is life.”

“I’m not alone in this.”

‘May I be kind to myself in this moment.’

Take time to really think through this final statement. If you want, you can put your hands on your heart when you say it.

You could also try saying:

“May I give myself the same compassion and love that I would give a dear friend.”

“May I accept myself as I am.”

Take action

After you say this last phrase, ask yourself, “What do I need right now?”

Depending on what’s going on in your life, you may need to eat a healthy meal, spend some time outside, talk with a loved one, watch a funny movie, take a nap or do something else to take care of yourself.

“Most importantly, be kind to yourself,” said Vicki. “Because you deserve it!”

Last Updated: August 25, 2020

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About Author: Katie Whitt

Katie Whitt is a marketing and communications coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since January 2016. Originally from Valparaiso, Indiana, she came to Peoria to earn her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Bradley University. Before joining OSF, she worked as a copy editor for both the Peoria Journal Star and The Bloomington Pantagraph.

In her spare time, Katie enjoys traveling, reading anything she can get her hands on and spending shameful amounts of time watching Netflix. She justifies her couch time with kickboxing and running.

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Categories: Mental Health