How to take a self-compassion break

When I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed I have found one thing that really can make a difference and have been using this option more often. It’s called a self-compassion break. I did this recently when I had a Dr.'s appointment for my back and it was a very painful procedure. It ended up causing more back pain for me by the end of the day. I started to feel more irritable, frustrated and down about it. Taking a self-compassion break for myself allowed me to stay present and ground myself. I felt better after to go on with my day.

Before I get to how you can do this let me discuss the importance of it first. Many times people are disconnected from their bodies and get too in their heads about stresses, worries and racing thoughts.

Our society and culture can also give us the message of how its important to “push through’ our distress no matter what and move on. By “pushing through” all the time we are not allowing space for difficult feelings. Its like telling ourselves those emotions “don’t matter” or we don’t matter. Its when we can know our signs and begin to stop and take that break we can really reconnect and allow ourselves to move into the feeling. To sit with it and stay with it, knowing that it is temporary and a part of being human.

To take a self-compassion break, notice when you are feeling more anxious or depressed or when these emotions are overwhelming you. How does that feeling come up in your body? It is a tightness in your chest? Or do you feel butterflies in your stomach? Or maybe it comes up as tension in your shoulders. Notice this and how it feels. Take a moment to close your eyes or look gently at the floor with soft eyes.

Place your hand on chest, the other hand on your belly if that feels ok for you

Say to yourself “this is a moment of suffering”

“This is a mindful moment” or “This is what stress feels like”

Tell yourself “Suffering is part of life, I am not alone” Or “Other people feel this way”

You can also tell yourself how are all connected with the common thread of suffering

Next cultivate some loving kindness towards yourself

Ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” and listen and really tune in for the answer. It could come to you as a word, picture or a thought and give yourself what you need.

Say to yourself

May I give myself the compassion that I need

May I learn to accept myself as I am

May I forgive myself

May I be strong.

May I be patient

Take 3 deep breaths through your nose with a longer exhalation than inhalation to end the practice.

Really tune in to how you feel after doing this practice. It can be a great way to soothe yourself and really stay in the present moment. It’s a way to be there for yourself. The great thing about this practice is it can be done anytime, anywhere day or night. It is easily accessible. Give it a try and see how it works for you!