Practicing Self-Compassion to Lower Stress & Improve Happiness

Throughout the week you may notice Tippie Thrive Advisory Board members handing out candy and hearts with compliments/affirmations. While these treats are meant to bring a smile to your face, improve your mood and help feel connected to others; there’s more to these. These treats are meant to remind you to practice self-compassion.

Self-compassion is a way in which a person treats themselves with the same care and kindness as they would a family member or a friend. I often ask people “if you wouldn’t say this to someone else, why would you say it to yourself” or “if you aren’t going to treat yourself with kindness than who is going to.”

There are three components to implementing self-compassion into your life.

Self-kindness-being gentle and understanding with yourself, not being judgmental and harshly critical.

Recognition of common humanity-we feel connected with others in experiences rather than isolated and alienated by your suffering.

Mindfulness-hold your experiences in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring your pain or exaggerating it.

How does this look in real life, it might look like using statements such as:

“I am feeling stressed with having two exams this week, that’s a lot in a week. I can get through it; this is common in college”

“This break-up is really painful, I feel disappointed, jealous and disrespected; while I feel alone right now, not all relationships are meant to last forever.” 

“I miss my family right now, it’s hard to be away from the people I care the most about and place I feel so connected to.”

By practicing self-compassion in can lead to more happiness, optimism, gratitude, and better relationships with others. Self-compassion can lower stress, anxiety, and depression by decreasing perfectionist thinking and self-criticism. In addition, having self-compassion can lead to a person being able to bounce back from setbacks and more likely to learn from their mistakes.

I encourage you to complete the following exercise.

1.     Think about a challenge you are facing now or in the near future. This might be an upcoming exam, presentation, job interview, poor grade, difficult group work, an end of a relationship, etc.

2.     Take a piece of paper and fold it in half.

3.     On one side I want you to write down the thoughts you have towards yourself related to this challenge.

4.     Flip over that piece of paper and write down the thoughts you would say to a friend or family member going through the same challenge.

5.     Unfold the paper and what do you notice about the difference between these statements. Are there similarities? Are there difference? Which statements bring about better feelings for you?  How would those better feelings lead to you to get through that challenge?

Resource: Neff, Kristin, 2023, Self-compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff,

Kati Schneider

Schneider, Kati M - Embedded Staff Therapist, UCS, College of Business