Many of us are sheltering at home, and taking time to re-find a natural balance in our lives. While we are setting up new routines for our week, working from home, and even possibly teaching our children at home, we are feeling a bit more tired. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are searching for caring resources, tools and tips to help people in our caring community to be successful. One thing we want to make sure to touch on is that it is more than ok to give yourself a break! What does that mean? It means holding a compassionate space for yourself.
There are many ways to show compassion for others, but we often forget to show ourselves the same compassion. Doctor Shauna Shapiro, PhD, talks about “…three components that make self-compassion put forth by her colleague Kristin Neff. Number one is to simply to witness what we are feeling and seeing in ourselves; this requires mindfulness. We suggest taking time when you are feeling stress or fear building to meditate. “The second is to be kind to ourselves, approaching that pain with the intention to actively soothe and support ourselves as we would a friend.”
Last, but not least, is to recognize that we are all in this together. Each person needs compassion from others, and needs compassion from themselves when they are giving their all. Shapiro calls this common humanity, and thinks that this is the most important element to hold in our minds and hearts. “When we acknowledge our common humanity… we feel a sense of connection that allows us to practice kindness not only for ourselves but also for all the other people who are in similar situations. …And that in itself is healing.”
Self-Compassion is Born of Mindfulness
As mentioned above that starting a journey into self-compassion requires mindfulness. We can continue the cycle and strengthen our self-compassion when we are mindful. With this positive cycle we continue to discover reserves of strength, wisdom, and resilience. “This is one of the alchemical powers of self-compassion: It simultaneously soothes the negative and grows the positive.”
If mindfulness activities or meditation are not your cup of tea, we have another suggestion for our caring community. Try journaling your thoughts and feelings. Once you have those emotions out, you can better understand actions, like increasing self-compassion, that need to be taken. A tip from Shapiro that we agree with is free-writing. This is a writing technique where we try not to think too much about organizing our words or thoughts while writing. “Simply write from your heart.” It will amaze and possibly shock you when going back over what you wrote.
We want to celebrate self-care through self-compassion. Compassion is something we all need more than ever today. We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.