With the new year and new resolutions, we all want to lead a healthier life, full of hope for better things to come. However, there is still so much uncertainty worldwide because of COVID. With so much uncertainty can come stress, anxiety and depression. But with the right tools, we can negotiate the pitfalls. Mindful self-compassion can help target stress in 2022, and this is how you can get it right.
So, let’s break down what we mean by the term ‘mindful self-compassion’. Mindfulness builds a stronger sense of self-awareness with our bodies and emotions. Self-compassion helps us to find ways to soothe and comfort ourselves when feeling inadequate or stressed. Evidence shows that using both mindfulness and self-compassion together allows a more targeted way to overcome negative emotions while supporting our development.
Mindfulness is a state of mind not a trait, allowing greater awareness of experiences and feelings. This practice has shown to affect different areas of the brain including the amygdala (responsible for emotions), the hippocampus (memory), and the prefrontal cortex (impulse control). Mindfulness helps create better control of one’s emotions and impulses by helping us focus on how to direct our thoughts and feelings. This leads to more positive emotional and mental health, stress reduction, and better relationships.
Self-compassion may seem self-indulgent, but it is learned in part by showing compassion for others. We learn to show the same kindness to ourselves as we would to our friends when they are experiencing difficulties. Self-compassion is turning compassion inwards, creating an understanding and acceptance of our emotions, redirecting negative thoughts and feelings of stress.
Mindful self-compassion combined can target feelings of personal suffering, lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and allow better emotional control, optimism, curiosity, and emotional intelligence. Psychologists are beginning to see great results using this practice for the treatment of anxiety and depression. It can take time and patience, but as with anything, practice will help you enjoy the benefits and target the inevitable stress of 2022.
We will be starting a group online in February at Sydney City Psychology to learn more about mindful self-compassion. Sessions are run outside of work hours, and Medicare rebates apply. Join us! Contact the Sydney City Psychology team for more information.