Healthy Habits

Practicing Self-Compassion

Young woman reading a book by a lake

Content provided by the Health & Wellness Team at GBS Benefits

By Catherine Van Tassell, PA-C, DipACLM, LCSW

As a physician assistant, I am committed to promoting health and wellness, not only through medical treatments but also by empowering individuals to take charge of their own health. I’d like to draw your attention to an emerging topic that can significantly enhance your overall well-being: self-compassion.

Self-compassion is about treating ourselves with the same kindness, concern, and support we would offer to a good friend. This concept is gaining recognition as an important tool for building resilience and improving mental health. How we talk to ourselves has a big impact on our mood, stress levels, and overall mental health. Negative self-talk, self-criticism, and self-blame can erode our self-esteem and make it harder for us to cope with challenges.

On the other hand, cultivating self-compassion can help us become more resilient and adaptable in the face of stress and setbacks. It involves recognizing our common humanity, acknowledging our imperfections, and responding with kindness and understanding. By practicing self-compassion, we can reduce our stress levels, improve our emotional well-being, and foster more positive relationships with ourselves and others.

How can you practice self-compassion and challenge negative self-talk? Here are some suggestions you may find helpful:

Reframe negative thoughts: Instead of being hard on yourself for your mistakes, try to reframe your self-talk by acknowledging your efforts and progress. Focus on the positives and be kind to yourself. You can try saying things like “I’m doing my best” or “It’s okay to make mistakes.”

One excellent resource for developing positive self-talk is the book “What to Say When You Talk to Your Self” by Shad Helmstetter. This book provides valuable insights into the power of our thoughts and words and offers practical strategies for changing our inner dialogue.

Practice self-care: Self-compassion involves taking care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as taking a walk outdoors and enjoying nature, reading a book, or meditating. Make time for self-care regularly.

Use positive affirmations: Use positive affirmations to boost your self-esteem and promote self-love. Examples include “I am worthy and deserving of love and respect” or “I am strong and capable of overcoming challenges.”

Finally, I highly recommend taking the self-compassion test developed by Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion. This test can help you assess your current level of self-compassion and identify areas where you can improve. You can access the test at

Remember, self-compassion is not a selfish or indulgent practice – it is a key to building resilience and thriving in life. By treating ourselves with kindness and compassion, we can become more empowered to face challenges, grow from our experiences, and live a fulfilling life.

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