Mindfulness practice can increase compassion toward yourself. There are various benefits to practicing self-compassion, including improving your overall well-being.

You may feel down on yourself during times of high stress or when you are having challenges in your life. Stress can cause you to ruminate and worry about the future.

You may also be prone to being self-critical and have frequent unhelpful thoughts. These thoughts can leave you feeling bad about yourself or viewing yourself as inadequate.

Feelings of inadequacy and dealing with challenges are universal human experiences. But you can shape your coping with difficulties by implementing mindful self-compassion.

Mindful self-compassion (MSC) combines mindfulness skills with self-compassion skills to enhance overall well-being.

Mindfulness skills involve intentional awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Self-compassion skills involve loving yourself and having self-awareness.

According to research from 2018, self-compassion involves three components:

Self-kindness means being kind to yourself even when you are going through difficult times.

Common humanity refers to the awareness that everyone has periods in their lives that are challenging for them. So that’s a shared human experience.

Mindfulness in terms of self-compassion is “the balanced awareness of negative thought and feelings involved in personal suffering.”

Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher and co-founder of the Mindfulness Self Compassion (MSC) program, attributes this definition of mindfulness in her program.

Why is self-compassion important?

The benefits of self-compassion are numerous. Research has shown that self-compassion is associated with factors such as:

  • psychological well-being
  • positive affect
  • optimism

2021 research found that mindfulness and self-compassion positively affect resilience and mediate the role of depression.

There are ways you can increase self-compassion by practicing mindfulness techniques. Consider the following exercises to practice self-compassion.

Identify unhelpful thoughts

One key piece of self-compassion is having self-awareness. When dealing with a challenging situation, you may be prone to unhelpful thoughts about the situation.

Try to identify what thoughts are helpful to you and which ones aren’t helpful. Observing these thoughts may help you have a more accurate view of the situation.

Practice mindful movement

Mindful movement can help you practice mindfulness and increase self-compassion toward your body. Mindful movement involves implementing practices in your life such as yoga and tai chi.

Research from 2015 suggests mindful movement can greatly benefit individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Think about how you would respond to a friend

One exercise Dr. Neff suggests is thinking about or writing how you would respond to a friend going through a challenging time. Then also consider how you treat yourself when you’re having a rough time.

If you don’t respond to yourself the same way, you may consider treating yourself the way you would a friend in your situation.

Try a self-compassion meditation

You may also consider trying a guided meditation that’s focused on self-compassion. Guided meditations are meditations you can listen to that guide you through a script.

As you’re guided through the script, meditation can help you achieve a relaxed state and promote positive affirmations.

Mindful self-compassion is about accepting yourself in the present moment and helps you treat yourself more kindly. No one is immune to life’s challenges, and mindful self-compassion can help you feel less alone.

In addition to improving your overall well-being, mindful self-compassion can help you have a more optimistic view of life. It may help you become more resilient.

You may consider implementing mindful self-compassion strategies to reap the benefits. For more about mindful self-compassion, check out the Center for Mindful Self Compassion for helpful information and resources.