Helpful Practices to Promote Self-Compassion

Megan Pollard, Clinical Psychology Intern, Horizon Health Network

February 10, 2021

This past year has been incredibly stressful for many people. Managing the challenges of daily life while navigating a global pandemic is an enormous task and it’s easy to be critical of ourselves for not knowing how to do this. Today, I wanted to share some tips to help cultivate self-compassion.

So, what is self compassion? Self-compassion is being open to your own suffering, experiencing feelings of caring and kindness for yourself, taking a non-judgemental attitude toward personal flaws, and recognizing that your experience is part of the common human experience (Neff, 2003). It means viewing your personal struggles in the same way you would a friend or loved one when they are struggling.

Self-compassion has 3 key elements:

  1. Mindfulness – which helps be present and separate us from our worry/fear;
  2. Common humanity – which reminds us that we are not alone in our suffering and protects against the loneliness of social distancing/isolation; and
  3. Self-kindness – which regulates fear through connection and warmth with ourselves.

Self-compassion has many benefits. Researchers have found it fosters compassion for others, prevents against compassion fatigue, promotes resilience, increases happiness, boosts self-esteem, and protects against mental health concerns. The good news is anyone can learn self-compassion and there are many practices that have been developed to help us comfort and care for ourselves in this way!

I hope you find these practices helpful and thought-provoking. Remember: self-compassion is a skill and may require time and practice to reap the benefits. Imperfection is part of being human and self-compassion allows us to provide ourselves with the love, connection, and support we need to handle whatever challenges come our way.

Thanks for reading!

For more self-compassion exercises see:

Megan Pollard is a Clinical Psychology Intern working with Horizon this year. She currently works at Horizon’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital and Horizon’s Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation.