Self-compassion will be mission critical for the weeks ahead – because if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t last the distance, and it’s going to be a marathon not a sprint. That means treating ourselves like we would treat someone we love, particularly when we find ourselves struggling or feeling overwhelmed. The phrase “we are in this together” means we ALL matter. One way to practise is to take a ‘self-compassion break.’ Here’s my variation for the current Kiwi Lock Down. Do this whenever you feel like you are struggling. Hopefully in taking care of yourself in this way, you will have more love and patience in the metaphorical tank to give to others.
First step -notice how you are feeling. Many of our previous ways of avoiding or distracting from our own difficult feelings won’t be available to us. We can’t to the office, meet up with friends, grab a coffee at our local cafe or go to the gym. That’s going to be hard. Our routines are massively disrupted and with children to home-school and teen-agers in the house, temperatures will inevitably rise. Allowing difficult feelings to come and go is important, they are normal. The tone of your “inner voice” really matters, so validate how you feel in a kind way, with the same warmth you would offer to a loved one.
Second step- acknowledge the common humanity of this experience. Every human being feels like this sometimes, and in these exceptional circumstances you can guarantee you are not alone in feeling like this. More than one billion people are in lock down right now. You are most certainly not alone.
Thirdly, talk to yourself kindly. Offer yourself the same words of support and understanding you would offer to a friend going through the same thing. Maybe even give yourself a little hug or put your hand on your heart and take three slow breaths. Let yourself know that it’s ok to feel like this, this will pass, it’s not forever, it’s just right now. Think about what you most need to help you through this moment. Maybe DO something kind for yourself. Take an extra-long bathroom break to get away from others around you. Go out for a walk, makes yourself a cup of tea and go read a book. Get away from your screen.Take short-cuts with the kids, (maybe screen time for them might be just fine if it gives you a break).
The central question of self-compassion is what do I need right now? Options are going to be limited, so focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Boundaries are still really important, we may need to be more creative about how we achieve them in terms of physical space, but maintain them we must or our mental health will suffer. Wise actions are required. Kindness truly matters, now more than ever.
See link to a guided self-compassion break: