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.
Self-Compassion: How to be More Loving and Kind to Yourself
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.
- “warm-fuzzies”/compassion renewal
- Increase in oxytocin
- Prefrontal cortex becomes activated
#4 – There are tools to fight compassion fatigue.
Engage in routines/rituals to start or end your work day.
- Going for a walk/finding a way to mimic a commute to and from work
- Listening to music
- Starting the day with mindfulness/prayer
- Setting time or tasks in your schedule that helps you start or end your day confidently
Take a moment to center yourself before a session or a phone call.
- Breathing exercises
Engage in gratitude activities.
- Write a letter/acknowledging other who have contributed positively to your life.
- Write down 3 good things that happened to you each day.
- Write a positive moment from each day on your calendar to go back and look at your successes from the week.
Have a routine or habit of mindfulness that decreases stress:
- Time in nature
- Mindfulness walk
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
These are just a few ways to get you started. Be curious and creative to find ways that are authentic and enjoyable for you.