Cultivating Self Compassion

What is self compassion?

– What is self compassion? –

Self compassion is our ability to be kind to ourselves. Self-compassion is often mistaken for selfishness (being self-centred) or selflessness (not putting yourself first). We are often more used to seeing and practicing compassion towards others. Compassion is showing loving kindness, consideration and care towards the difficulties of others. Self-compassion is compassion directed inwards. There is a wealth of research that self-compassion improves mood and overall wellbeing.

Psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff explains the practice and conditions of self compassion in the following short clip:

What are some of the benefits of practicing self-compassion?

ImgSource: Medium.com
  • Improved quality of life
  • Resilience during stressful life events
  • Deeper understanding of others perceptions (empathy)
  • Increase in physical and mental well-being
  • Reduction in stress, anxious and depression.
  • A greater ability to handle conflict
  • Increase in resilience

What are some of the challenges to being self-compassionate?

  • Our beliefs about self-compassion being wrong or unattainable can be a barrier
  • We may not have experienced compassion from others so find it difficult to show ourselves the same kindness
  • Perfectionism – believing that you must do everything perfectly and if you fall short of your own expectations then you punish yourself
  • We may have psychological or physical challenges which have lead to us being more self critical rather than self-compassionate

How do I be more compassionate towards myself?

ImgSource: Verv

Self-compassion can be improved in a number of ways. Firstly, we would recommend making some dedicated time for self-care. Self-care involves nurturing activities which can help to relieve day to day stress and tension. Self-care can be as simple as making sure that you are eating healthy meals regularly and getting in at least 30 minutes of sunlight by going for a walk for your well-being. Self-care can include planning things to look forward to such as seeing a friend, going to a local yoga class or making use of annual leave to rest if you are working. Self-care looks different for everyone – find what feels good for you. It can be helpful to develop a self-compassionate box or bag with items in which make you smile when you are having a challenging day.

– Keeping a journal –

It may be worth keeping a journal so you can notice how you speak about/to yourself. If you are overly self-critical or negative towards yourself, it can sometimes be helpful to challenge this by thinking about how a trusted friend would react to what you have written. Then, write a letter to yourself which acknowledges the difficulties you are facing without judgement. You can do this as though you are responding to a letter from a friend rather than to yourself if you find it easier to be compassionate towards others. It is not easy to be self-compassionate when we are used to being self-critical. It can feel completely alien at first and requires some practice to become neutral towards yourself rather than judgemental. It is worth putting in the work to set the right tone of the relationship we have with ourselves. Our inner voice shapes our world, our view of ourselves and others. Self-compassion is something which can be learned and developed through out our lives.

– Developing a mindful practice –

Developing a mindfulness practice can help with cultivating self-compassion. The aim of mindfulness is to be present, observe our thoughts, feelings and environment without judgement. A mindfulness practice can start wherever you feel most comfortable. Whether that is trying a guided meditation while in bed or noticing the experiences of your 5 senses (What you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell).

– Mindful tea breaks –

Here at AMALAwellness, we are advocates for tea breaks! You can practice mindfulness by thinking about the smell, colour, warmth, taste and origin of your tea. Spend a few minutes focusing on each individual sense with curiosity. Mindfulness connects with self-compassion because our inner critic is invited to rest for a moment. It allows us to be open to our experiences with space to learn and grow. Mindfulness is a practice – it is not something to perfect. Mindfulness releases the body and mind from the unhelpful effects of thinking about the past or the future.

woman meditating in the outdoors

Recommended evidence-based self-help on developing self-compassion:

Create your own ‘Compassionate Kit Bag’: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/media/pqsg3xsf/kitbag.pdf

Guided meditations by Dr K. Neff:

Self-compassion work book from the Centre for Clinical interventions: https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Self-Compassion

We hope you enjoyed this blog. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

Warm wishes,

Jess

Team AMALAwellness

Wellbeing Spotlight 101: Interview with Nyxie

Today’s spotlight focuses on Nyxie of Nyxie’s Nook. We spoke about her work, blog and how it helps with her mental wellbeing.

What is Nyxies Nook?

Nyxie’s Nook is a blog based largely on mental health and wellness. I began the blog as a way to progress my relapse into anorexia nervosa in 2019, and it’s since become a place for me to talk about recovery, among other mental health issues. I speak candidly about all things recovery, depression, anxiety, sexual health and various other topics, some more controversial than others. I’ve also been known to talk about the inequalities here in Northern Ireland in regards to sexuality, gender and gender norms. 

Nyxie of Nyxies Nook

1. Why were you drawn to blogging about self-care and illustrations initially?

I was drawn to blogging as a way to process and manage my own mental health issues. What started out as me simply writing, turned into writing about things that mattered and getting my voice heard. While I still write for pleasure, a lot of my writing is published either on my blog or elsewhere. 

My love for illustrating has always been there, but it was smothered for years by persistent imposter system. While in lockdown in 2020 I picked up my sketch pad and fell in love again. Shortly after returning to my day job, a friend of mine announced she was working on a book. I was asked to illustrate and I haven’t looked back since. 

2. When did you make the leap to dedicating more time to these avenues?

While I work part time serving food, my other part time job is writing and illustrating. It doesn’t bring in much, but it’s a great way to earn an extra bit of ‘pocket money’ for things to do with my blog, and even for various art supplies. 

3. Can you recommend 3 of your favorite elements (products/activities) that you use  as part of your self-care routine?

I frequently play video games to wind down in the evenings. At the moment I’m obsessed with my Nintendo Switch and the game, Stardew Valley. 

I also highly recommend chilling out in bed with a good book of your choice. At the moment I’m living for all things true crime and I’m reading through various non-fiction books about serial killers. It’s a bit of a change from my usual ‘wellness’ material, but I’m really enjoying the change up. 

Finally I can’t recommend the positive power of a feel good TV show more. When I’m feeling low or drained of all energy, I turn to sitcoms such as ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ or ‘New Girl.’ If I’m in need of an extra boost, ‘Queer Eye’ has never steered me wrong. 

woman sitting while reading a book
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

3. What does self-care mean to you?

“It’s about recharging my batteries”

Nyxie

I often asked myself this question. To me it personally means relaxing and doing what I want to do. What I consider to be relaxing, may be different from you, but there’s nothing better than laying in bed or on the couch, sketch pad or Nintendo Switch in hand, and a good TV show. It’s about recharging my batteries, not thinking too much and taking myself away from social media. 

4. What would you like readers to know about self care? 

Self-care is unique to everyone. It’s what you want it to be. While some of the generic things will apply, don’t be afraid to discover new things that make you feel good, relaxed and, above all else, happy. 

5. Tell us your experience of being a blogger and illustrator.

It’s tough. Writing and illustrating is hit or miss, and while some months I might be busy, there are other times where I can’t get so much as a sale. That’s just how it is. You also have to feel like a failure, but to push through anyway. 

6. Are there any tips that you can share with our readers about self care?

  • What you class as self-care may be different to someone else. While some enjoy sitting down to a 20 minute yoga session, you may prefer to bake or clean or play video games. No shame. You do you. 
  • Self care is 100% necessary. Downtime is necessary. Without either, we run the risk of burnout. 
  • Self-care isn’t about coming home day after day and going to bed. It’s alright in moderation, but if this is your daily routine, it may be time to look at other things. This sort of behaviour in my experience is self-soothing, which can only exacerbate mental illness symptoms. 
  • Ten minutes of self-care is better than nothing. You don’t have to schedule an entire day or even afternoon. Just 10 minutes can be beneficial.

woman girl animal dog
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Thanks so much, Nyxie. We have really enjoyed interviewing you for our mental wellbeing spotlight!

To find out more about Nyxie and her work, you can check out these online avenues…

Social medias include: 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/nyxtrix 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/nyxiesnook 

Website: www.nyxiesnook.com 

About The author:

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Aimee is a Yoga, Meditation and Move It or Lose It! teacher in located in Middlesbrough, England, UK. Aimee teaches in Norton, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Guisborough and Redcar and Cleveland, as well as offering online classes.

To find out more, visit www.amalateesside.com