There are several research studies showing the benefits of self-compassion, defined as a mindful awareness of oneself, which involves treating oneself kindly and understanding oneself during difficult and challenging times by realizing that such experiences are common amongst all humans.
The idea these studies support is if I’m simply a little bit nicer to myself I’ll improve in whatever area I’m working on.
On the surface it sounds too “new agey”, soft, and too-good-to-be-true. People typically react with comments like, “You mean, “I can give myself the benefit of the doubt and do things like rest when I need to or say no to invitations that I’m not ready for without feeling lazy or weak?”
The answer is yes.
This habit is especially vital for us living with IBD. We do not need to beat ourselves up about our IBD. We do not need to push extra hard or suffer unnecessarily in order to get better. Self-compassion may be especially relevant for moderating stress-induced inflammation because of its functional similarity to perceived available social support, which has been linked to healthier immune functioning.
Giving yourself a break (maybe taking that nap later today) when possible is healthy. It’s not the same as giving yourself a “get out of jail free card” or skirting major life responsibilities.
Practicing self-compassion is taking a kind, gentle view of your life and simply being nicer to yourself.
- You can have goals…and still practice self-compassion
- You can be motivated…and still practice self-compassion
- You can still achieve better health and still practice self-compassion
You simply do all the above with an understanding that practicing self-compassion will help you in the long run. Life can be tough enough – especially with IBD – give yourself a little self-compassion when needed.
Self-compassion could take the form of a nap or extra time to complete a task. And after you’ve taken that necessary rest you get back up and begin again on your journey to feeling better with IBD.
Do the “kitten test” found in the Resources section on page 88