You’re consistently working out, eating a balanced diet, and making sure you’re getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night. You are on your way to building the 3 core habits that are at the forefront of a perceived healthy lifestyle.
But a healthy lifestyle goes beyond sleep, diet, and the gym. It goes beyond the scale and beyond your clothing size. A healthy lifestyle also should include self-care and self-compassion.
Self-care is the process to which you take care of yourself. In taking care of yourself, not only does it improve your own state of being, but it allows you to better serve others.
Self-care can include a range of activities. From journaling to making a home cooked meal, taking the time to take care of you is the main goal.
Where does Self-Compassion Fit in?
Self-compassion is an important part of self-care. It is the process of showing yourself care and understanding for yourself instead of harshly criticizing. It helps you be the happiest and best you. Your self-care routine isn’t complete without treating yourself as you would a friend.
Based off of Dr. Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion model, there are 3 core components of Self-Compassion:
Self-kindness vs. Self-judgment
Being kind to yourself instead of judging yourself harshly is a huge part of self-compassion. You are your own harshest critic. Self-compassion involves quieting your inner critic and instead, listening to your inner fan.
Shutting down your inner critic is important for so many reasons. When you are critical of yourself it increases your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone so when your levels go up, it negatively impacts the way you respond to events.
Our lives, our workout regimen, meal plans, and diet don’t always go to plan and that’s okay. Accept that life happens and respond with love.
For example, instead of beating yourself up over eating too many cookies (which by the way, life is too short to worry about how many cookies you ate today), accept that your diet won’t always go to plan and ask yourself what you need to move on.
It might help to also think about how your friends might respond to you if you were to outwardly express your frustration with yourself. Are your friends going to beat you up for eating one too many cookies? No, of course not (unless their bad friends, and if their bad friends, find new friends, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life).
Common humanity vs. Isolation
Pain is an inevitable part of the human experience. It happens to every human on the planet. We all fail and we all feel inadequate sometimes. You are not alone.
Mindfulness vs. Over-identification
Staying mindful when practicing self-compassion is crucial to staying kind to yourself. While you need to address, not ignore, your problems, it’s also important not to dwell on them.
To make sure you aren’t caught up in your own personal woes you have to avoid over-identifying and instead just observing your thoughts and feelings. Let your thoughts and feelings pass by with no judgment or desire to suppress them.
A good way to avoid over-identifying or ruminating on clinging to your thoughts too long is to identify them. For example, say you’re feeling like you aren’t good enough. Tell yourself “I notice I feeling like I am not good enough” and then add to that and tell yourself, “I notice that I am noticing that I am feeling like I am not good enough”.
This will allow you to identify your feelings without assuming them to be a part of your character. It lets you separate yourself from who you are and what you are feeling without suppressing your emotions.
Self-Compassion and a Healthy Lifestyle
Self-care is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle and in fact, a healthy lifestyle can be a form of self-care. However, making sure you are taking care of your entire self and not just your physical self, is important. You can do this by incorporating self-compassion into your self-care routine while engaging in physical activity that you enjoy and focusing on eating foods that make you feel good.