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Quick, Simple Way to Reduce Distress and Be Kinder to Yourself Today!

Photo by Mélody P on Unsplash

A quick, simple way to be kinder to yourself each day...

Today, the world at large seems to be filled with overt and covert injustices, hatred, and overwhelming social issues that can invoke our fear, stress, and despair. On a smaller scale and in our day-to-day lives, we hear and see messages that we do not measure up, whether we aren’t the “right size”, we aren’t the epitome of good health, we aren’t doing enough as parents or citizens, or we aren’t as happy as everyone else portrays themselves to be in various social media outlets: SO many things that are completely out of our control and yet evoke feelings of powerlessness, self-deprecation, or despair that we will never live up to some unattainable standard. These ongoing external stressors trigger both physiological and emotional responses that can be detrimental to both our mental and physical health.

So when we notice the very physical, internal reactions to these external triggers, such as our hearts racing, our breathing patterns escalating, our chests tightening, or our stomachs dropping in conjunction with emotional distress, what can we possibly do? A favorite exercise I’ve learned from the top brain in Self-Compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff, is to internally care for ourselves by creating a safe, tender space, and in turn, altering our bodily responses to suffering or self-criticism. This very simple technique can be used anywhere, anytime:

  • Take a few deep breaths, noticing an increased sense of relaxation on your outbreath.
  • Give yourself a gentle hug (you can simply cross your arms and squeeze a bit if others are around), or comfort yourself by stroking your face or arm in a gesture of comfort, love, and care
  • Notice how you are feeling after this gesture of self-compassion; perhaps you feel calmer or warmer. That’s the oxytocin (feel good hormone) being released and changing your physical experience.
  • Repeat anytime you feel tense, sad, self-critical, angry, etc…..

If you enjoyed this exercise and are interested in learning more about self-compassion and other therapeutic activities that can help you stay on course toward a more vital, valued life direction, Fresh Air Counseling would love to schedule to meet with you today! Contact us to set up a free 15 minute phone consultation and begin cultivating positive change and the quality of life YOU DESERVE.

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Professional Seal for Kelly Jerome
Kelly Jerome, MS, LPCA, CRC, NCC
Therapist in Durham, NC