The holidays can be not only a stressful time, but also a time for negative self-talk and feelings of guilt. However, self-kindness is the main ingredient for overall well-being and resilience in the face of adversity.
According to self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff, PhD, self-compassion has three key components: mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness.
She created the brief Self-Compassion Break meditation, which accesses all three parts of self-compassion. The exercise can also be used any time during the day or night to help you remember to evoke the three aspects when you need them most.
Here’s a modified version you can try:
- Begin by finding a comfortable position that allows you to be relaxed and close your eyes. Take a few deep and cleaning breaths.
- Identify what is troubling you without bringing harsh judgement or ridicule into the equation. Bring up your unmet goal with non-judgemental curiosity and without self-criticism.
- Next, remember that you are not alone. Find comfort in knowing that many others have been unable to stick with their intentions.
- Finally, offer yourself kind words. What would you say to your friend who has fallen off track? What words comfort you? It may help to give yourself a squeeze or to place your hands on your heart during this part of the meditation. Soothing touch promotes the release of oxytocin, even when it is your own touch.
- Close by taking a few more breaths, paying attention to any positive feelings you may notice.
- Open your eyes, and congratulate yourself for taking time to tend to yourself.
If you find it difficult to quell your inner, negative voice, reminders to be kind to yourself can help. Write a message of encouragement on your bathroom mirror, leave an inspirational quote on your dashboard, or keep a self-kindness journal by your bed.
Chances are that you are your own harshest critic, and the holiday season is a time when it’s easy to struggle with negative self-talk and feelings of guilt.
Try instead to offer to yourself the same words of encouragement and kindness you would offer your friends or loved ones.