5 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion During the Holidays
Let go of expectations.
A core element of self-compassion is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined by Jon-Kabat Zinn as “paying attention, in the present moment, on purpose, with nonjudgmental awareness.”
One of the most important aspects to mindfulness is remaining open to every experience as if you have never experienced it before. Staying curious and non-judgmental can help you respond rather than react to certain social and environmental factors (family members, home town triggers, old friends).
Do your best to refrain from letting past memories cloud your present experience.
Comparison and self-criticism are common around this time of year. Compassion toward others at this time of year is almost expected, but what about compassion toward yourself?
When you find yourself comparing your accomplishments to those of others, attend your self-critical voice. Meet that critical voice with kindness and comfort. Make an effort to change the way you treat yourself. You can be your strongest most consistent source of support, especially during this time of year.
Understand the imperfection of humanity.
If you say or do the wrong thing or you are haunted by past mistakes, remind yourself that perfection does not exist.
The human condition is imperfect.
I am human.
Therefore, I will be imperfect.
Self-Care, not Self-Indulgence
Many people see the holidays as a justified excuse to get “messed up” and eat exorbitant amounts of food ( I definitely find myself doing this). I’m not saying don’t “treat yo' self,” but just don’t hurt yourself. Know your limits. Don’t Drink and Drive (because everyone should love and care for themselves and others enough to call an UBER). Balance your food and alcohol intake with exercise. Caring for yourself sometimes means bowing out early, if you need it.
Take a self-compassionate break.
If you suffer from anxiety, panic, anger, irritability, substance abuse or any emotional discomfort this holiday season, you can practice interrupting that suffering with compassion.
1. Identify your early warning signs.
- physical: heart racing, chest pumping, heat in face, tingling in arms, tightness in neck, ear ringing, etc.
- cognitive: racing thoughts, negative/hopeless thinking, obsessive rumination (thinking about the same thing over and over again), all-or-nothing thinking, rationalization, self-criticism, etc.
- relational: pushing people away, isolating, fighting with friends or family, etc.
*There are many more early warning signs of emotional suffering, but if any of the above resonate with you, remember them!
2. Place your right hand on your heart and the left hand on top of the right. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Repeat to yourself one of the following messages (feel free to change them to sound more natural or more like your internal voice)
"May I be kind to myself in this time of need."
"May I support myself through this difficult time."
"May I see my imperfections as part of the human condition.'
"May I love and accept myself exactly as I Am."
I hope these tips can help you support yourself through the holidays and beyond.
With loving kindness,