6 Reasons to Have More Self-Compassion Now

6 Reasons to Have More Self-Compassion Now

How treating yourself with compassion can lead to many other happy benefits!

By: Maressa Brown

Growing up, we’re encouraged to be compassionate toward others, but treating ourselves with compassion is just as important. Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, explains: “If individuals are self-compassionate when confronting suffering, inadequacy, or failure, it means that they offer themselves warmth and non-judgmental understanding rather than belittling their pain or berating themselves with self-criticism.” In other words, treat yourself as you would a friend, and try to understand that suffering and shortcomings just come with the territory of being human. Here, six benefits of self-compassion.

1. Boosts happiness. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety. At the same time, they tend to be happier and more optimistic. One experiment published in the Journal of Happiness Studies asked individuals to write a self-compassionate letter to themselves every day for seven days. The intervention decreased depression for three months and increased happiness -- and self-esteem! -- for six months compared to a control group who wrote about early memories.

2. Helps diet and fitness plan adherence. Treating yourself with compassion may even influence how much you eat and may help you lose weight. A study published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology concluded that restrictive eaters who learn to treat themselves compassionately when they break their diets, avoiding self–criticism and recognizing that everyone eats unhealthily once in a while, might control their eating more effectively than those who focus on the negative implications. As if that weren’t enough, self-compassion has been proven to help motivate you to work out.

3. Reduces stress. Research published in Clinical Neuropsychiatry found that practicing self-compassion actually soothed stressed subjects, lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

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4. Promotes resiliency. Self-compassion moderates our reactions to negative events and, in turn, can make us more resilient. In one related experiment, subjects recalled unpleasant events, imagined hypothetical situations about failure, loss, and humiliation, performed an embarrassing task, and disclosed personal information to another person who gave them ambivalent feedback. The individuals who had higher self-compassion reacted less extremely and had less negative emotions, more accepting thoughts, and a greater tendency to put their problems into perspective.

5. Bolsters gratitude. People who are self-compassionate display higher levels of gratitude, which has been linked on its own to happiness.

6. Encourages positive body image. Maybe it sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but practicing self-compassion can help you feel better about the skin you’re in and the reflection in the mirror. Researchers at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada concluded that the more self-compassionate young women were, the fewer concerns they had about their body.

Have you tried practicing self-compassion?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/GlobalStock

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