Advice from EAP during Mental Health Month: Filling our self-compassion tanks 

The coronavirus pandemic is challenging professionally and personally for all of us. Perhaps you’re frustrated with yourself because you’re struggling with computer technology or having difficulty learning new job skills. Or, if you’re a parent, perhaps you’re questioning your ability as you struggle to balance your child’s online and recreation schedule.

Self-compassion is a practice that can help reduce anxiety and lessen the critical thoughts we have about ourselves. Self-compassion means we hold compassion for our fear, we recognize how difficult this time is, and we do our best to be warm and caring toward ourselves.

It can be difficult to access self-compassion if we find ourselves in a constant loop of self-criticism or not feeling we are good enough. Some immediate first aid is needed to quiet the critical voice. Here are some tips to move from being self-critical to self-compassionate:

  • Hand on heart: Place your hand on your heart and close your eyes. Breathe in and out. On the out breath, affirm yourself with a statement like, “I am doing the best I can. I am moving through this difficult experience.”
  • Give yourself permission to be imperfect: Self-compassion is about giving ourselves room to be human. Because of the pandemic, all of us are stumbling towards a new normal and that journey is hard. Try writing yourself a ‘permission slip’ when you make a mistake, such as “you have permission to not be a perfect parent.” Notice how it feels to extend that act of kindness to yourself. It really works!
  • Write yourself a love letter: If you notice that your negative self-talk is particularly strong on a given day, get out some paper and write down some good qualities about yourself. If you have a hard time with that, write down the good things others have said about you.
  • Comfort your body: Eat something healthy. Lie down and take a nap. Take a walk.  Give yourself a big hug! Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a big dose of self-compassion.

Self-compassion is learned slowly for those of us wired to be self-critical when we make a mistake. The fruit of self-compassion is learning to begin to hold our struggles and ourselves in a loving embrace, just as we are, one moment at a time. In honor of Mental Health Month, what is one thing you will do to show yourself some self-compassion today?

If you are struggling, know that there are counselors available 24/7 through Making Life Easier (1-888-874-7290) and our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Staff are available by phone at 206-263-8733 or via email at HRDEAP@kingcounty.gov. We are here for you. Contact us anytime.