Anti-Burnout Challenge, Day 2: Find a Moment of Self-Compassion

On day two of our five-day exercise, give yourself a moment of self-care that goes beyond a spa day.

This is Day 2 of our five-day anti-burnout challenge. Read Day 1, on shutting down, here; Day 3, on completing the stress cycle, here; Day 4, on remembering your purpose, here; and Day 5, on making connections, here.

Compassion is related to self-care, but the latter has been rebranded (and feminized) as bubble baths and sheet masks. Those can be genuine forms of self-care, but self-care centered around products or activities might miss an important part of healing and staying motivated: giving yourself a moment of compassion—cutting yourself some slack where you normally don’t.

Today’s anti-burnout challenge: Give yourself a moment of compassion.

How to Find a Moment of Self-Compassion

Instead of just giving yourself a little treat, think of an area in your life where you’re not particularly kind to yourself. Maybe you tend to freak out when you miss a deadline, even if it’s a flexible one. Maybe you beat yourself up when someone else points out something in your work that you know you should have noticed.

Identify that area. Then think of one way you can bring self-compassion to that area. When you notice that you’re beating yourself up, tell yourself what you would tell a friend if that friend was talking about himself or herself in this way. You likely see the good in others, so why not look for it within yourself?

“Most people report that they are kinder to others than themselves, and it is not unusual to encounter extremely kind and compassionate people who continually beat themselves up,” states a report on self-compassion by Kristin D. Neff and Katie A. Dahm.

Or if you’re beating yourself up over a missed deadline, maybe you remind yourself that some of the leaders of our time are known for missing deadlines. Perhaps it’s as simple as noticing it in the moment, taking a deep breath, and moving on (aka “mindfulness”). Whatever it is, do it deliberately—and do it with an eye toward cultivating compassion toward yourself.

Why You Should Give Yourself a Moment of Compassion

When you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, a moment of self-compassion can give you a reminder that you’re doing good work and are valuable to your team. It may also make it easier to open up to others, share that compassion, and connect with your team on a more meaningful level. This deeper connection and change in mindset could be what you need to feel re-energized about your work.

You probably won’t feel as stressed, either: “One of the most consistent findings in the research literature is that greater self-compassion is linked to less anxiety and depression,” according to Neff and Dahm’s report.

When we tried today’s challenge, one person noted that with a focus on self-compassion, she made it a point to congratulate herself when completing tasks, which gave her more motivation to tackle the next item on her list. Another person reflected on the idea of telling yourself what you would tell a friend who is being self-critical. She shared that she would get upset when hearing a close friend speak so negatively about herself, but realized that she had been doing the same thing to herself, leading to a pledge to be kinder in her self-talk.

How did you fare with today’s challenge? Share your experiences in the comments.

(str33tcat/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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