It’s been one of those days and you recognize that you need some self-care now or you might just (fill in the blank). Try taking a self-compassion break. I learned about this in an 8-week mindful self-compassion course I took and it has become one of my favorite short exercises to practice whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and emotionally fatigued. How does it work?
First, simply take a deep breath and say to yourself :“This is a moment of suffering.” Other options include “This hurts” or “This is stressful.” What you are doing is acknowledging what is happening in the present moment. This acknowledgment is mindfulness which is in contrast to you knowing that feeling of being overwhelmed the whole day and not realizing you were stressed until the end of the day when you collapse, exhausted.
Second, acknowledge that suffering is a part of life. That’s common humanity. You could say to yourself: “I’m not alone. Others are just like me.” Or “We all struggle in our lives.” When we are suffering, we can feel alone but know that others are often feeling those same emotions.
Finally, offer yourself some compassion. This could be putting your hands over your heart, or wherever feels soothing and just feeling the warmth and gentle touch of your hands. And then perhaps offering yourself some words of loving-kindness, such as: “May I be kind to myself” or “May I give myself what I need.” Try to find the words for what you need in times like this. If you’re having difficulty finding the right words, imagine what you would say to a friend or loved one in need and perhaps gently try offering yourself that same message from the heart.
Tuning into our own needs, acknowledging them and saying the words that reach the heart are well worth developing. Easier said than done perhaps, but even just taking the time to ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” can do a world of good. That’s self-compassion.