“Try a little tenderness – the science and benefits of mindful self-compassion”
According the mental health charity Mind, around 1 in 4 people in the UK annually experience some form of mental health related issue and 1 in 6 report symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In an increasingly busy world with all the demands that everyday living puts on us, it is no surprise that stress and anxiety levels continue to rise. So it is helpful to know that by taking simple steps to take care of ourselves we can alleviate some of the suffering from the pressures of life in the 21st century.
The impact of stress
Life is busy and often stressful- stress plays a significant role in the onset of disease in the mind and body leading to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer- it creates acidity in the body and a constant flow of stress hormones in the body leads to physical and emotional suffering.
We need some stress in our lives to motivate us and to keep us alert, however when the body constantly feels under attack from internal ( negative faulty beliefs, the inner critic, worst case scenario thinking ) stressors and external stressors ( adverse life events such as divorce, bereavement, financial worries etc )this impacts negatively on our immune system and all the major organs in the body.
Suffering in silence
people often suffer in silence for some time before acknowledging they are struggling with anxiety as culturally we strive to meet goals and targets, to be our best, and anxiety might be perceived to be a weakness- and yet it is a natural response to stress.
Coping strategies that hinder more than help
Quite often, rather than addressing suffering, people battle on and suppress anxiety through poor coping strategies such as drinking alcohol, but this can lead to excess and mask the problem rather than solve it. Also, comfort eating is often a poor stress response – ‘stuffing down’ difficult emotions and creating more problems.
There is a better approach -try a little tenderness.
Mindfulness and self-compassion are proven to be effectives antidotes to stress and anxiety.
Research shows that self-compassionate people tend to make healthier lifestyle choices and recover from setbacks more quickly. Self-compassion simply means offering ourselves the same care and tenderness we offer to others who are suffering.
Applying self-care, acknowledging our needs and meeting them as best we can supports well-being and enable us to many daily and often difficult life events and challenges with an inner resource and well of emotional resilience:
- Sleep for rest and replenishment and healthy growth and maintenance
- Seek friendship and support
- Prioritise what you need and want to do each day- keep the lists short- so that you are not overwhelmed.
- Recognise the body’s need for exercise to keep supple and energised-find an exercise programme that’s right for you-whether its jogging, walking in nature, yoga, or Pilates-or dancing -make it fun and enjoyable.
- Take time for rest and relaxation.
- Healthy nutrition and replenishment, – quite often it is easy to forget to eat- to skip meals, and to then just grab the nearest thing- so listen to your body and eat when you are hungry and drink when you are thirsty.
- Be mindfully present in nature this will help you to re-balance and replenish.
- Make your work/life balance a priority
- Take time to be with friends and family
- Keep a gratitude/pleasant events diary- this will help keep the balance during stressful times
- Seek professional help when you experience overwhelm and anxiety that becomes unmanageable
If you would like to learn more about building emotional resilience and mindful self-compassion practice- then the Mindful Self-Compassion official programme might just be for you. The next course starts November 2 and registration is now open for applications