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Self Compassion

Many people make promises to themselves and many people break those promises. This can be a very disheartening and repetitive cycle which can affect our mental health negatively. I am going to suggest something for you to try which might go against what you are used to; self compassion. 

To simplify things, compassion is basically being nice, caring with tenderness and kindness. Nothing complicated, nothing far reaching. 

The tricky part comes when we try to do this for ourselves because we are taught from an early age that we need to put others first and being selfish is seen as a bad thing. 

Being self compassionate is the one thing you can do to improve your mental health and wellbeing. But How do we do this? 

  •  Think of a situation in your life that is causing you stress, such as a health problem, relationship problem, work problem, or some other struggle. 
  • Choose a problem in the mild to moderate range, not a big problem, as we want to build the resource of self-compassion gradually. 
  • Visualize the situation clearly in your mind’s eye. What is the setting? Who is saying what to whom? What is happening? What might happen? 
  • Can you feel discomfort in your body as you bring this difficulty to mind? If not, choose a slightly more difficult problem. 
  • Now, try saying to yourself: “This is a moment of suffering.” ƒThats mindfulness. Perhaps other wording speaks to you better. Some options are: This hurts. Ouch. This is stressful. 
  • Now, try saying to yourself: “Suffering is a part of life.” ƒThats common humanity. Other options include:I’m not alone. Everyone experiences this, just like me. This is how it feels when people struggle in this way. 
  • Now, offer yourself the gesture of soothing touch that you discovered in the previous exercise. And try saying to yourself: “May I be kind to myself” or “May I give myself what I need.” 
  • Perhaps there are particular words of kindness and support that you need to hear right now in this difficult situation. Some options may be: May I accept myself as I am. May I begin to accept myself as I am. May I forgive myself. May I be strong. ƒMay I be patient. 
  • If you’re having difficulty finding the right words, imagine that a dear friend or loved one is having the same problem as you. What would you say to this person? What simple message would you like to deliver to your friend, heart to heart? 
  • Now see if you can offer the same message to yourself. 

5 Steps to Good Mental Health

“I don’t know how to deal with mental health”

Hands up who feels like this? Mental health is scary, right? We hear of stories of someone with Mental health issues shooting people, maybe stabbing their partners, or suffocating their babies.

These are extremes but these are also the examples we are given of what Mental health is. So when we are faced with anything concerning Mental health, for many of us, there is a stigma attached, from society and from ourselves.

We’re not as bad as the stories we hear, so we don’t seek support or help. I have to say, awareness is growing and part of my work is to raise this awareness.

First step is to be aware that we ALL have mental health, just as we have physical health. And just like physical health, we can have good and bad mental health.

We know a lot about physical health; what to eat, how to look after ourselves and we do things everyday to keep our physical health good like brushing our teeth. Look around you though, not everyone is at their peak physical health are they? There are differences, because we are all different. There are different levels because we all have different abilities. The same can be said for mental health.

We are all at different places with our mental health; some of us can bounce back from a crisis, some cope under pressure, some take changes in their stride, some are very positive. The majority of us though, I suspect, struggle a little every day but do not feel the need for support because this is how it’s always been.

For healthier Mental Health, let’s start doing a little bit everyday; just like we do with our physical health (brushing our teeth, combing our hair, showering etc). I want us to start looking after our mental health.

The way I see it, if we found a lump; we’d be straight at the doctors. We wouldn’t wait until it was stage 4 cancer, would we? So why do we do this with our mental health? We wait until we are at crisis point before we seek help. This does not have to happen and we can start by simply getting into good daily practices.

As part of raising awareness and improving your mental health, I have put together a chart, just for mental health: Your 5 a Day for Good Mental Health. Please feel free to download your very own copy and start filling it in today – you can write a word a day, or use it as a guide for your journaling.

The simple things work best, and this guide is here to help you have better mental health.

So, what are the steps?

1. Self compassion

At first, as most say, it means being your best friend, being in your own corner with kindness, gentleness and love. The first step is observing the way you talk to yourself. Observe what you are saying to yourself but without judgement. If you are being mean, don’t then beat yourself up for being mean to yourself. Take a step back, take a deep breath. Whenever you catch yourself being mean, bullying or unhelpful, simply use that kind, caring voice.

2. Journal

Journaling is great because you are doing something physical and it because of that, it forces you to take time out of your day just to sit with yourself, talk to you yourself and before you know it – you start forming a relationship with yourself. You start to figure out what experiences are teaching you what, which people energise you and who drains you, you start to give yourself advice even and dare I say it – you start caring and loving yourself just that little bit more. This helps reinforce the self compassion as it is in written form.

Go on, give it a go. Buy yourself a lovely notebook and start writing in it.

3. Gratitude

We’re so busy, aren’t we? We don’t stop to appreciate, we don’t stop to realise how much we really have, we don’t slow down enough to SEE any of it, to FEEL any of it.

You can start by simply saying, “Thank you” to things, out loud or in your head. Gratitude is opening your heart to see and feel what is around and not join this modern world game of always rushing to the next thing.

If you want, you could also write in your journal, perhaps at the end of the day, things you are grateful for.

4. Ta-da list

All too often we look at what we haven’t done, don’t we? Perhaps at the end of the day, list all the things you have done and TA DA!!! Wow, look at how much you have done!

Focusing on achievements gives a sense of accomplishments, boosts self esteem and confidence and gives a feeling of calm that you are going in the right direction, things are getting done, you can slow down the pace and yes, it will all be OK.

5. Play

Why don’t we play as adults? We seem to get into a rut of work, chores, passing out, work, chores, passing out (note I didn’t say sleep…)

Those adults who have hobbies they can dive into and time flies are happier because they are resting on so many levels. And no, it doesn’t have to be the gym, although exercise does help.

I’m talking about fun here, playing, letting your inner child out and taking the lead.

What does play mean to you?