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Practice self-compassion

When we feel stretched too thin, just keeping our head above water is an accomplishment. But it’s only human for us to be critical about ourselves for not being able to get more done. The idea that we should be able to do it all sometimes can be motivating, but it usually just makes us feel like we're falling short.

For example, being able to keep up with work and also put food on the table every night for her children is a huge accomplishment for a working mom. But it’s common for working moms to feel guilty that they aren’t doing more work or providing enough support for their children. No matter our situations, it's not uncommon for us to feel pulled in multiple directions, often stretching ourselves past our capacity for work and responsibility — and, even, past our capacity for self compassion. In this STAND Tip, we help you build self-compassion back into your daily routine, even a busy one.

Practice 'self-compassion breaks'

To avoid guilt traps and associated stress, we recommend adding self-compassion breaks into your routine. This practice, developed by Kristin Neff, PhD, from the University of Texas at Austin, involves four steps and can be used at any time of day and in any place.

  1. Identify and think about the stressful situation.
  2. Notice and label the emotional and physical sensation you experience from thinking of the situation.
  3. Remind yourself that moments of such suffering are normal.
  4. Ask yourself what you need to hear to express kindness to yourself and then say that to yourself.

On your own: Review a more detailed explanation of self-compassion breaks in the how-to guide

Downloadable resources to use on your own

Information Sheet

Strategies for When You are Feeling Stretched Too Thin

Recovering from Trauma & Grief

How-To Guide

Practice Self-Compassion