Give Yourself a Break: Practicing Self-Compassion
Most of us probably recognize the value of showing kindness and compassion to others. But how about when it comes to ourselves? Being kind and compassionate to yourself is just as important. And with practice, you can make self-compassion a habit. Here are some tips.
- Celebrate small accomplishments.
You don't have to achieve big things to feel proud of yourself. The small things really do add up. So you can feel good about those things too. Maybe you didn't work out 3 times this week like you planned. Give yourself credit for what you did do. If you exercised once, that's something. If you took a walk around the block, that's something too.
- Don't believe everything you think.
On harder days, you might find yourself having more negative thoughts. For example, you might have a conflict with a coworker and think, "That's going to get back to my boss, and I sure won't get promoted now." It's helpful to acknowledge the thoughts you're having. But you don't have to accept them as fact.
- Check your self-talk.
The things you tell yourself can have a big effect on how you feel about yourself. And a lot of us are much harder on ourselves than we would be on others. If that's true for you, try shifting your self-talk to be more forgiving. For example, if you're beating yourself up about a mistake you made, take a step back. Try kind and encouraging self-talk instead. You can say, "This is new, and I'm doing my best." Or "I'm caring for my family, and I'm doing a good job."
- Remind yourself of your good qualities.
When you get into a loop of negative self-talk, defend yourself. Write down your positive traits or things you're good at. These don't have to be major things, like "I once saved a puppy from a rushing river." They can be everyday things, like "I make very good pancakes" or "I'm a good listener."
- Do something just for you.
Commit to doing something kind for yourself every day. Maybe for you, self-care means making time to exercise, do a hobby, or journal. Or maybe it's reading a magazine in the bath away from your children for 10 minutes. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as it's something positive and healthy.
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine