A Brief Self-Compassion Break

by Laurie Veillette

Although many of us are still processing the events of 2020, this new year has already brought with it a new set of challenges. During particularly stressful times such as these, it’s imperative that we take every opportunity to nurture and care for ourselves. Dr. Kristin Neff’s brief self-compassion break is a great opportunity to do this. It takes just a moment or two and is a wonderful tool for practicing the three aspects of self-compassion (mindfulness, common humanity, self-kindness). Below are revised instructions for practicing this skill.

Find a comfortable, upright seated position in a private, quiet space. Close your eyes or soften your gaze. Take a breath or two to settle yourself and prepare for the exercise.

Think of a situation in your life that is difficult and causing you stress. Call the situation to mind, and notice how you feel the stress in your body.

Now say to yourself:

  1. This is a moment of suffering (Mindfulness)
  2. Suffering is a part of life (Common Humanity)
  3. May I be kind to myself (Self-Kindness)

This practice can be used at any time and may be especially helpful in times of high stress and upset. If you become overwhelmed by emotional discomfort, take a moment to effectively care for yourself (e.g., take a walk, call a friend, focus on your breath) before returning to the exercise.

(Based on Exercise 2: Self-Compassion Break | Kristin Neff (self-compassion.org))

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. These are two available resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis text line:  741741

Laurie Veillette, PsyD
Laurie Veillette, PsyDCCL Board Member. Clinical health psychologist. Specialized training in health psychology and integrated care.

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