In honor of valentines day and all things love related, I felt it was appropriate to share 5 of my favorite practices for embodying self compassion.
Self compassion is simply the practice of showing love and kindness toward yourself.
Adopting a self compassion practice is a cornerstone in embarking on any healing journey, whether that be to heal from a challenging childbirth experience, burnout, anxiety, depression, trauma, or chronic pain. It is also one of the main steps in learning to rewire your resilience within The Resilient Mother Method.
The three main elements of self compassion as defined by self compassion researcher Kristen Neff are Self Kindness, Common Humanity, and Mindfulness.
- Self Kindness is the act of being kind to yourself, just as you would be to a friend. Showing sympathy toward self versus harsh judgements and internal language.
- Common Humanity entails recognizing that it is a human experience to fail, make mistakes and get things wrong. To recognize that we are not alone in our imperfections, struggles, and failure. And by remembering this shared human experience we can feel less isolated.
-Mindfulness in awareness of our negative thoughts and emotions. To find a balance in recognize one own's pain, to not dismiss it or become overly consumed by it. To allow the discomfort, the stories, thoughts and feelings, to be just that- thoughts and feelings. Not any more, not any less.
Read below for my 5 favorite practical self compassion practices.
1. Tune-In to your body daily
Taking a moment to tune-in to your body daily and asking “What do I need right now” can help you become more aware of your current needs. So often in motherhood we are so focused on what everyone else wants and needs that we forget to actually ask ourselves what we need. Some days you might need to lock yourself in the bathroom and take a few deep breaths while the kids are screaming on the other side, and other days you may be able to take some quiet time to just pause and turn your attention inward for a few moments or longer. In some way, small or large, commit to honoring what comes up for you. The answer can be as simple as drinking some water or going to the bathroom, to needing to ask for support and taking a few hours for yourself.
2. Replace self judgement with self kindness
Begin to recognize moments when you didn't live up to your own expectations, and the narrative that runs in your head. Instead of being hard on yourself, talk to yourself as you would to your best friend. Be gentle and kind with yourself and know that life is filled with challenging moments that are 100% inevitable.
3. Take a mindful shower
How often do you shower while your mind is racing about all of your other to-do’s for the day? Challenge yourself to take a mindful shower and actually feel yourself lathering up with soap, give yourself a little face massage, soak in the feeling of the water running all over your body, allow yourself to actually see and feel yourself giving your body attention. Slow down and be curious how it feels to tend to yourself with love and compassion.
4. Allow yourself space to feel and express
As a mother it’s incredibly easy to feel like you need to “hold it all together”...because let’s be real, if the mama ship sinks everyone is going with it...right? I want to challenge this belief. By holding it all together (for ourselves and everyone else), we actually become less emotionally and physically available, and our boat is more likely to tip over into the seas of anxiety or depression. Our nervous systems can only handle so much stress!! Giving yourself the space to feel your emotions and release your stress is critical in being able to keep the ship afloat while also riding the waves of motherhood.
5. Embody Gratitude
Science shows that gratitude practices can help improve your mood and happiness. When practicing gratitude, I want to challenge you to do more than just “think” about what you are grateful for. Instead, I want you to feel what you are grateful for. And in this instance, I want you to show gratitude to YOU! Think of a time you accomplished or created something you were proud of yourself, take yourself there, visualize yourself in that moment, the more details you can immerse yourself in the better. And be grateful, grateful for how this instance has shaped your life. Place your hands on your heart and take a deep breath in allowing the feeling of gratitude to fill your body and letting it settle deeper in on the out breath. Repeat until you feel complete <3
Practicing self compassion can feel uncomfortable at first, this is ok. Start in small ways by becoming aware of and recognizing first how you are currently showing up for yourself. By recognizing your current patterns of self talk, dialogue, and attention, you will already be on the path toward turning towards yourself instead of against it.