Why Self-Compassion Is the Best Form of Self-Care
For me, ringing in 2022 was an anticlimactic moment amid a holiday surge of Covid-19 cases. While I poured myself a perfunctory glass of bubbly and celebrated at home in my pajamas, inside, I felt an undercurrent of resignation and melancholy at the thought of yet another year in quarantine.
During the previous two years, I’ve experienced surges of hope — like after I got my second vaccine dose — but my optimism was frequently dashed by waves of new variants, a growing picture of global vaccine inequity, and news of loved ones who lost jobs or were hospitalized because of the virus.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Experts have coined this feeling “resilience fatigue,” or exhaustion after an extended period of time trying to stay motivated and look on the bright side. Researchers have also reported an increase in rates of depression and anxiety by more than 25 percent since the start of the pandemic, especially for women and younger people. And as recently as this past December, more than a third of adults in the United States were experiencing depression and anxiety on a regular basis.
If there’s ever been a time to double down on self-care, it’s now. But being kind to ourselves goes beyond bubble baths and hydrating face masks (although they certainly help). Science shows that self-compassion and positive self-talk are key to a healthier and happier life. Here’s how to turn these necessary forms of self-care into everyday habits.
Invest In Soul Care
Self-care is an essential way to introduce respite and balance into our busy lives. For many of us, it’s simple actions like doing an art project, going on a grounding walk in nature, or pampering ourselves with a lavender and rosewood bath soak.
These calming approaches to self-care undoubtedly help us weather the storms of life, but self-care doesn’t start and end with taking care of your physical body. Self-care also extends into soul care.
Soul care is keenly focused on showing compassion to your whole being. You can do this by taking inventory of your thoughts, emotions, and general well-being — in addition to your body. If you’re having trouble tapping into your internal self, try journaling, practicing gratitude, or meditating.
Be Kind to Your Mind
We all know that words are powerful. They have the ability to encourage us, hurt us, and change the way we see the world. Why wouldn’t it be the same for our inner soundtrack and the way we talk to ourselves?
Psychologists have studied the influence that negative self-talk can have on individuals, and, unsurprisingly, it has been linked to higher rates of depression while positive self-talk is an influential predictor of success.
The words we speak over our lives can also become self-fulfilling prophecies: our minds are the flower bed where our ideas, beliefs, and will are initially planted. And once planted, beliefs give birth to our manifested actions. This can be as simple as believing coffee makes you a happier person in the mornings (urging you to brew yourself a cup) or as complex as believing that you aren’t qualified for your job (leading you to blame yourself when a project you’re leading hits a bump in the road).
Adopt An Abundant Mindset
In the midst of the pandemic, my mantra became “it is what it is,” leaving me feeling powerless to the whims of the evolving health crisis. It didn’t dawn on me until later how self-defeating that thinking was, and how it affected the way I resolved (or didn’t resolve) to make the most of each day.
So take care of yourself from the inside out. Rather than focusing on the things you cannot change, adjust your thinking and adopt an abundant mindset that empowers you to believe you are loved, worthy, and able. Pick one or two positive affirmations that you can easily remember and repeat to yourself (here’s a great resource of 99 affirmations to choose from) and begin to erase the negative ruminations in your mind.
What will you tell yourself today?