Self-Compassion Practices For Times Of Stress And Struggle.

2023-06-06T19:57:13-06:00December 16th, 2020|

Self-Compassion Practices For Times Of Stress And Struggle.

How do you talk to yourself when you’re having a hard time?

Being kind to ourselves doesn’t come naturally to many of us.

I used to think self-compassion was about doing nice things for myself, like getting a massage or attending a yoga class. But the truth is that doing these things for ourselves doesn’t automatically translate into being kinder and gentler with ourselves.

We can do these things and still have an inner voice that’s quite nasty.

The fact is that many of us want to be kinder to ourselves, but we don’t know how to do it or what it means to be more self-compassionate.

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion boils down to being kind, gentle, and accepting of ourselves during a hard time.

This suffering or stress isn’t just about the big things in our lives; it’s also about all the little things that happen in a day that trigger discomfort.

When we accept that all of the little and the significant challenges are worthy of our kindness, it shifts the nature of our relationship with ourselves.

Self-compassion is a self-soothing activity.

Self-compassion practices for times of stress and struggle.

When we learn to soothe ourselves from the inside, we don’t need to turn to things like eating, drinking, shopping, or busyness to make us feel better.

In the book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Kristin Neff, Ph.D., identifies that there are three elements of self-compassion:

Self-kindness entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we fail, suffer, or feel inadequate.

Common humanity helps us to recognize that “I” am not the only person that suffers or makes mistakes and is not alone.

Mindfulness involves bringing a balanced and non-judging approach to our emotions so that our feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated.

One of my favourite practices is the Self-Compassion Break. It’s a practice you can do throughout the day when you’re feeling stressed or dealing with difficult emotions or experiences. You can learn the simple steps and listen to a 5-minute guided recording HERE.

How self-compassionate are you?

The saying that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge applies to learning how to be kinder to ourselves.

Becoming aware of that little voice in our head is the starting place for shifting some of our patterns of relating to ourselves.

I experimented and completed the self-compassion quiz on Dr. Kristin Neff’s website.

I highly recommend you spend a few minutes and complete the quiz. By doing the examination, you’ll get a better idea about self-compassion and where you stand regarding how kind you are to yourself.

I was surprised that even though I had been a Nurse for many years and prided myself in compassion, this quiz helped me see that I wasn’t extending the same kindness toward myself.

When you’re feeling stressed, or you’re suffering, practice RAIN.

In addition to the Self-Compassion Break, the following video with Tara Brach guides us through the sitting practice of RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture).

While RAIN is a helpful practice for minor frustrations, it becomes gold when going through the big stuff. When I say big stuff, I mean major health issues, spiritual crises like the dark night of the soul, or relationship issues that are bound to happen.

For many of us, when these little or big things happen, we battle in our minds- without being consciously aware. We turn away from our suffering because we don’t know how to be with it wisely.

RAIN helps us learn how to observe our thoughts and feelings that are very uncomfortable and how to work with them. It gives us a way to be with the suffering that enables it to move through us.

We literally learn how to transform ourselves with kindness.

It’s a potent practice that helps us to be present with ourselves and our lives in nourishing ways.

Did this article support or inspire you on your path? If you feel called, comment below to share with our community.

(Original post-Nov. 11, 2015; Updated post-Dec. 16, 2020)

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About the Author:

Bev guides awakening women worldwide to make the shift from feeling stressed and disconnected to peacefully empowered, living lives that feel good to their souls. Bev’s personalized meditation and mindfulness approach empowers women to let go of stress and struggle, get in the natural flow of life and live with greater inner peace and well-being. Bev is trained as an Integral Associate Coach™, Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher, Enneagram Practitioner and Master’s prepared Nurse. She’s the author of Awakening a Woman’s Soul: The Power of Meditation and Mindfulness to Transform Your Life.


  1. Jenna December 28, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Lately, I started my journey on understanding my sould and my feelings, I feel so lost and its really hard for me cuz I experience alots of things that I dont anything about. I will try your tips to try to help with the heaviness Im having in my chest, which I think it can be a heart chakra blocking symbol. And thank u

    • Bev Janisch December 29, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Jenna- that’s great that you’ve started on your journey and understanding yourself better. Feeling lost is such a natural part of the process and you are definitely not alone. In terms of the heaviness, you’re having in your chest and wondering whether it’s related to your heart chakra- I believe that it’s important to explore these sensations from different perspectives. Probably because of my background in Nursing I also think it’s wise to rule- out physical causes of “symptoms” and underlying medical causes. For example, when I was living a life that wasn’t true to myself, I developed physical issues related to the stress hormone, cortisol. To deal with it, I had to address the physical impact of having cortisol imbalances AND I looked for the underlying cause, which was not being true to my soul. I hope that makes sense and much love for your journey! Bev

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