7 ways Self-Compassion Can Help Make Your Holidays Better

Self-compassion and the holidaysAt this time of year, many people are asking themselves how to make it through the holidays. One way to help yourself through the season is by practicing self-compassion.

What is self-compassion?

Kristin Neff, the most well-known self-compassion researcher at the University of Texas-Austin, calls it “a healthier way of relating to yourself.”  It is a tool to help promote psychological healing, well-being, and better relationships.

Rather than beating yourself up, you extend kindness and understanding to yourself. It is a caring attitude, where you can encourage yourself and realize that being human means things can go wrong.

Self-compassion and Mindfulness

Self-compassion has an element of mindfulness and self-awareness. You pay attention to how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Being mindful helps you observe yourself, which enables you to not get overwhelmed by your feelings. Research shows self-compassion can decrease anxiety and enhance resilience and recovery from the effects of stress.

Self-compassion is not a way to deny our experience; it is a way to consciously acknowledge our own feelings and emotional suffering. As we acknowledge and accept ourselves and our feelings, we deliberately comfort ourselves by intentionally generating feelings of warmth, softness, and care toward ourselves. It is to understand we are human and therefore, are not perfect.

Self-compassion acknowledges that in life we have difficult moments, and we have a choice about how we are going to respond. It shows us that when we are actively “there” for ourselves, life becomes easier to navigate.

How to use self-compassion to make you holidays better
  1. Stay with Yourself: Notice exactly what you are feeling and thinking.
  2. Ask yourself what you need: Rather than staying on auto-pilot, notice yourself. Ask yourself what your body is doing, experiencing and telling you. With this information, decide what you need and take steps to make that happen.
  3. Be “there” for yourself:  Speak to yourself with kind and gentle words, just like you would if you were supporting a friend. Support yourself with ideas and actions.
  4. Don’t push yourself: Move calmly through the holidays. Let people know when you cannot fit into their schedule. When possible, arrive when your schedule allows.
  5. If you must rush, do it slowly.
  6. Take time to rest and refresh.
  7. Say “no when necessary. “No” is not a bad word. If you want to have good relationships, you need to say “no” from time to time.

The holiday season brings with it many opportunities for joy and happiness. It also brings with it conflict: whose needs do you meet? Yours or others? It can be a difficult decision. Sometimes it is hard to determine what the need is, who it belongs to, and what really needs to be done. Practice self-compassion and take a moment to listen to yourself. You will not always know what is the best thing to do.  You can only do your best and accept that to be human is to make mistakes. The holidays will shall pass.

Feel like you need help making through the holidays? I can help, call me at (919)881-2001.

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