Practice a Little Self-Compassion this Month

It’s February — the season for love notes, flowers and heart-shaped chocolates. Maybe that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or maybe it makes you want to fast-forward to March! Instead of putting pressure on yourself or your significant other, try treating yourself to some self-compassion.

“Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism,” says Kristin Neff, author of “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself” and associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals.”

Here are three tips for practicing self-compassion from New Directions, a company that provides behavioral health services for many Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members:

  • Be kind to yourself. Show yourself the same empathy and concern that you show for others.
  • Connect with others. Spend time with people who make you feel understood and supported.
  • Be mindful. Embrace each situation in the moment, and don’t dwell on the “what ifs.”

Self-compassion doesn’t depend on meeting certain ideals or reaching possibly unrealistic goals. It comes from caring for yourself as you are, with your own balance of weak and strong points. People with self-compassion experience less anxiety and are more comfortable in their own skin.

If you can’t seem to shake negative thoughts or depressive feelings — or just don’t feel like yourself for an extended period — here are some resources to consider:

  • Talk with your doctor.
  • Use the Find a Doctor search feature at to locate behavioral health specialists, including psychologists and social workers, in your area.
  • Call the number on the back of your member ID card to learn more about your options for getting help.
  • Subscribe to the Mind section of this very blog to get more posts on dealing with stress, anxiety and depression, as well as improving your overall mental health delivered right to your inbox.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to read:

Sources: New Directions, The StayWell Company, LLC

Photo credit: owngarden

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