Feeling Stressed-Out? Try Self-Compassion
If you are feeling stressed out—and who isn’t after dealing with a pandemic for more than a year—self-compassion can be an effective strategy for not just getting through, but thriving during these challenging times.
Harvard psychologist Christopher Germer, in his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, suggests ways to bring self-compassion into your life. Here are a few:
- Comfort your body. Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest. Massage your neck, feet, or hands. Take a walk. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a dose of self-compassion.
- Write a letter to yourself. Describe a situation that caused you to feel pain (a breakup, a loved one’s illness). Write a letter to yourself describing the situation without blaming anyone. Acknowledge your feelings.
- Give yourself encouragement. If something bad or painful happens to you, think of what you would say to a good friend if the same thing happened to him or her. Direct these compassionate responses toward yourself.
- Practice mindfulness. This is the nonjudgmental observation of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions, without trying to suppress or deny them. When you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, accept the bad with the good with a compassionate attitude.
If you are enrolled in the Cigna or Kaiser medical plans, choose the appropriate icon to the right for additional tips to manage stress.
For additional mental health resources, visit the Health & Wellness page on WU Life.
Beat Stress with Meditation and Relaxation Exercises
Meditation is a simple practice which can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity and promote happiness, as well as provide medical benefits such as improving blood pressure. And it does not have to take a long time. There are different styles of meditation including mindfulness meditation and concentration meditation. Most include quiet, and a focus on something specific such as your breathing, a specific calming word, or observing your thoughts without judgement. Try different styles and give each one a chance to see which approach works best for you.
Here’s a simple meditation to try:
Follow these instructions for a 2-3 minute meditation. Set a timer if you’d like so you can just focus on the meditation.
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on your breath and on how the body moves each time you inhale and exhale. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
- Continue for 2-3 minutes simply breathing and noticing your body’s response.
- Try it for longer periods if you find that it is beneficial.