Anxiety Antidote: Self-Compassion
We are all in the midst of Coronavirus craziness. We all need to actively take care of ourselves and manage the inevitable anxiety that comes with these unknown times, fears and uncertainties.
You can see some of My Necessary Recommended Strategies HERE.
Self-compassion is good strategy for anxiety ANY TIME.
What is Self-Compassion?
It’s a way to show yourself kindness, care and concern for the difficulties you face in this situation. The adversity is pervasive – it affects so many aspects of your life. It’s unpredictable and uncontrollable. That’s a recipe for anxiety, worry, irritability, fear and more. It presents a lot of difficulties.
When a friend is dealing with a lot of difficulties, how would you treat your friend? You already know what compassion is.
Self-compassion is doing what you already know how to do: be a good friend. You know how to be kind, understanding, validating and encouraging.
Now, these uncertain times require you to apply compassion to yourself. You deserve kindness, care and validation just as much as others do.
3 Aspects of Self-Compassion
- Mindful awareness of what you’re going through. Mindfulness is the basis of self-compassion. Being aware of what you’re experiencing helps you to connect with yourself which feels good (vs. stuffing your emotions or trying to pretend they’re not there).
- Kindness and warmth aimed at the person who is suffering or facing adversity (YOU!). Self-compassion asks: What do I need? How can I support myself in this difficult situation?
- Common humanity – knowing and feeling that you are a part of it. You are not alone. We are all connected and we are all facing difficulties during this challenging time. It’s hard for all of us in some of the same ways and in unique ways.
Exactly How Does Self-Compassion Help?
Over 2500 research studies overwhelming show that self-compassion in difficult times like this helps:
- Decrease anxiety
- Decrease stress
- Increase coping
- Increase resilience
- Increase well-being
- Increase happiness
- Increase hope
- Increase optimism
- Increase forgiveness
Self-compassion moves you into a more positive emotional space that increases coping, clear thinking, creativity, and the problem-solving needed in these uncertain times.
It will help you hang in there during prolonged periods of difficulty. Part of the challenge right now is that we don’t know how long the extreme coronavirus precautions will last. The uncertainty itself is difficult.
How are you dealing with being quarantined at home with family members? Self-compassion increases forgiveness and perspective-taking, which helps sustain healthy relationships.
It All Starts with YOU
It all starts with a healthy relationship with yourself through practicing self-compassion.
Here’s how to take a self-compassion break (adapted from Kristin Neff, self-compassion.org):
Close your eyes for moment and take a breath. Now, say to yourself:
- This is an incredibly difficult time. (That’s mindfulness.)
Other options include:
- This is harder than I could have imagined.
- This is stress and anxiety.
- I’m really afraid and worried.
- I can’t seem to calm down and let go.
- These difficulties are part of life during this crisis. (That’s common humanity.)
Other options include:
- Other people feel this way too.
- I’m not alone.
- We are all struggling through this unknown situation.
- May I be kind to myself. (That’s kindness and caring.)
Now, put your hands over your heart and ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you, such as:
- I’m doing my best right now and that’s all I can ask
- May I give myself the compassion that I need
- May I learn to accept myself and the situation
Kristin Neff is the top authority on self-compassion. Please visit her website www.self-compassion.org for guided meditations and exercises to help you learn and practice self-compassion.
I believe you will find self-compassion to be surprisingly effective in reducing the stress and anxiety we all feel during this pandemic.