Self-Compassion: How to be More Loving and Kind to Yourself


Our Director of Clinical Performance, Katy Burdine, and our Clinical Training Director, Beth Pfitzenmaier, share some insights and tips on making self-compassion part of your self-care routine throughout your recovery journey.

This month we’ve been talking a lot about self-love. But what is self-compassion? What are the benefits, and how can you treat yourself with more compassion? 

4 Things You May Not Know About Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue is something that can affect caregivers and those in all sorts of helping professions, and it can sometimes be confused with burnout. Compassion fatigue is not permanent, and not something to give up hope over.

We can put healthy practices into place to decrease compassion fatigue, and allow ourselves to be able to continually be present for those we support.

#1 – Compassion fatigue and burnout are two different things.

Compassion fatigue is more acute, a response to the situations you encounter every day. We often feel motivated to give more of ourselves.

Burnout is a gradual process often caused by prolonged exposure to intense, unhealthy, event toxic environments. We find ourselves gradually withdrawing.

#2 – The same situations that cause compassion fatigue can also cause compassion satisfaction.

Providing compassion and care to others can positively affect our self-image, and impact how others see us. It can often remind us why we got into this work, and it reminds us what we like about ourselves. It is another way to “fill our cup”.

#3 – Compassion grows compassion.

Surrounding ourselves with compassionate people, witness compassionate acts, engaging in compassionate acts (volunteering, donating time/resources) can increase our compassion satisfaction and fight compassion fatigue.

#4 – There are tools to fight compassion fatigue.

Engage in routines/rituals to start or end your work day.

Take a moment to center yourself before a session or a phone call.

Engage in gratitude activities.

Practice mindfulness/meditation.

Have a routine or habit of mindfulness that decreases stress:

What are the benefits of self-compassion?  

When your cup is full, you are better situated to provide quality care to those you serve.

A steady, self-compassionate practice helps you be more flexible and adaptable. When you are more loving and kind to yourself, it’s easier to treat others this way. Finally, when you teach this skill set to the people you serve, you’ll be coming from an authentic place. 

How to Practice Self-Compassion Regularly 

The goal is to participate in acts of self-compassion consistently and then increase in times of difficulty. A good way to start is to find small things you can do every day; this is generally better than a big thing you do once a month. Be patient, and stick with it! It takes weeks for something to form into a habit. 

Ways to increase self-compassion physically AND mentally

Get enough sleep.
Exercise regularly.
Make healthy food choices.
Progressive muscle relaxation/body scan
Spend time in nature.
Bring your attention to your breathing.
Rest when your body needs rest.
Talk about what’s going on.
Express yourself creatively.
Be patient with yourself.
Speak to yourself kindly.
Remind yourself that this too shall pass.

These are just a few ways to get you started. Be curious and creative to find ways that are authentic and enjoyable for you.