(Last of two parts)
In these troubled times, mental hygiene can be incredibly useful for maintaining our overall well-being. A key mental hygiene principle is self-compassion, which breaks down into three components:
Shared humanity embraces the awareness that we’re all human beings, who all have flaws and troubles. We make mistakes and don’t always get what we want. But despite or even because of those same things, we’re capable of enormous generosity and empathy. Shared humanity empowers us to accept our weaknesses as part of the whole of who we are, allowing room for us to not only learn and grow, but also to let others in.
Self-kindness means extending ourselves the same understanding and forgiveness we provide our friends. Haven’t you ever said, “I adore so-and-so, because she’s so silly”? We need to allow ourselves to act silly sometimes, to be irresponsible once in a while, to fall down, so we can learn to get up. With self-kindness, we quit blaming ourselves for what we may or may not have done, and start loving ourselves for who we are and can be.
Mindfulness is opening ourselves to the present moment, without judgment or repression. These days, it’s easy to think, “I have no right to be sad when other people are sick.” But if your problems are less dramatic than others, that doesn’t make them invalid, and if your triumphs are small, that doesn’t mean they’re not a big deal. Mindfulness means letting ourselves feel — and, eventually, work through — our feelings.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the concepts, here’s an easy roadmap you can follow, to practice self-compassion daily:
- Every morning — or whenever you wake up, depending on your work-life schedule — set yourself some constructive, simple intentions, like “I’ll be kinder than yesterday” or “If provoked, I’ll take three deep breaths before responding.”
- Be conscious of the internal narratives you tell yourself because these shapes your mindset. For instance, “I’ll never get through all my tasks for today” isn’t helpful. Instead, try something like, “If I manage just a few, I’ll have less to worry about.”
- Having prepped your intentions and attitude, try to move through your day, focusing on just one thing at a time. This will keep you from being overwhelmed, and let you devote your attention to the task at hand – and your own well-being.