Self-care and self-compassion are essential practices for maintaining mental and physical health. According to a study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, self-compassion is positively related to well-being and negatively related to symptoms of anxiety and depression (Neff, 2013). In addition, research has shown that self-care practices such as exercise, meditation, and getting enough sleep can lead to improved mood and cognitive function (Skeffington, 2016). You have probably heard of self-care and maybe self-compassion but let’s go over what those are:
Self-care are practices that “fill you up” rather than deplete you. For example, work, school or parenting may fulfill you but overtime can deplete you if you don’t get regular breaks. People need breaks so that they can avoid feelings of burnout and resentment. Self-care practices are acts you might neglect if you are experiencing depression, for example bathing everyday, regular exercise, eating a balanced and healthy diet, taking care of your finances, spending time with your loved ones or spending time in nature. Other examples of self-care can include relaxation practices such as mindfulness or yoga, getting enough sleep, keeping a clean space and going to therapy. Keeping up these self-care practices can feel daunting if you don’t have the time or money or mental capacity. Self-care needs to be flexible and suited to each individual. In addition, mindset around self-care can sometimes keep us in patterns of putting other peoples needs first to avoid conflict. A trained therapist can help you uncover why self-care or self-compassion are a struggle for you and help release you from whatever limiting mindset is preventing you from being gentle with yourself.
Self-compassion on the other hand is a mindset towards yourself that is kind, forgiving, and gentle. It’s not uncommon to have quite a harsh “inner critic”. Having an inner voice that is harsh and critical is quite common, especially for those who suffer from anxiety, perfectionism or depression. Self-compassion is an alternative way of speaking to yourself and thinking. It’s a mindset towards ones self that is kind and gentle.
Another study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that self-care practices can also improve physical health outcomes such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels (Sirois & Kitner, 2015). Incorporating self-compassion into self-care practices can also lead to better adherence to healthy behaviors, as individuals who are more self-compassionate are less likely to engage in self-destructive behavior (Kelly & Wingate, 2013).
Overall, practicing self-care and self-compassion can have numerous benefits for both mental and physical health. It is important to prioritize these practices in our daily lives to promote well-being and prevent burnout. If you’re ready to start being kinder to yourself, feel free to book a free 20 minute consult and start your therapy journey. Life is too short to be unkind to yourself.