How to practice self compassion during the holidays
If you’re struggling with food and body image this holiday season, you’re not alone. This is a really tough time!
One of the biggest things that can help is working on self compassion.
Self compassion is not taught in school, but it is a skill!
A skill can be learned, practiced, and strengthened over time.
If the thought of working on self compassion feels overwhelming or cheesy, I hear you. (And I think it’s worth a try to see what happens!)
Here are some concrete ways you can work on self compassion.
1. Remind yourself why self compassion is important
Do you believe that self compassion makes you weak or lazy? Research shows this is just not true!
When we are more self compassionate, there is decreased stress due to less guilt and shame.
This can lead to improved digestion and better decision making with a regulated nervous system.
Extend some understanding words to yourself.
First, describe your situation as neutrally as you can, and then explain why it makes sense.
Examples: “I am really struggling today. It makes sense, I wasn’t able to eat breakfast today and I am spending so much time with my family.”
“I am so frustrated that eating disorder recovery feels so difficult right now. It makes sense, recovery is hard!”
You don’t have to truly believe it at this point – even just saying the words helps build this skill.
3. Connect with another
Many of the people I work with who struggle with self compassion feel very compassionate for others, just not themselves.
One way to start to bring compassion closer is to get in touch with the compassion that you feel for a loved one, pet, or friend.
Bring to mind the compassion you feel for someone you care for. Picture yourself sending them good energy and warmth. Can you send a small amount to yourself as well?
This exercise is based on information from the book Befriending Your Body by Ann Saffi Biasetti, which is an excellent resource for practices to enhance self-compassion.
Know that it takes time to build the skill of self compassion, and that is okay! There is no cheat code or fast track to increased self compassion, it takes small steps over time.
Try not to judge yourself if self compassion is difficult (that’s an easy loop to get into: being hard on yourself for being hard on yourself!!)
Give yourself permission to for time and space to work on this imperfectly.
Sending you so much good energy for the holidays!
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