Five Free Mindfulness Practices to Build Self-Compassion

Five Free Mindfulness Practices to Build Self-Compassion | Nashville Counseling

"I need more coping skills to handle _________." This sentence is the one I hear most often when potential clients call my office. Almost every woman I speak with fills in that blank differently. However, the coping skills I offer to them often look the same because some skills are relevant to a variety of difficult life situations. One of the skills I often offer to clients is Mindful Self-Compassion.

Mindfulness not only makes it possible to survey our internal landscape with compassion and curiosity but can also actively steer us in the right direction for self-care. Bessel van der kolk

This skill is a specific type of mindfulness. If you are unfamiliar with this word, then here is a definition: Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening around you and within you. It is a proven coping skill to effectively help with stress relief, improve quality of life, become less emotionally reactive, and increase relationship satisfaction. 

If you are looking for a way to get started trying out this practice, then I recommend the FREE Insight Timer app. It offers a variety of guided mindfulness meditations. Did I mention it’s free? 

One of the most popular kinds of mindfulness with researchers and clinicians is Mindful Self-Compassion. Kristin Neff, a self-compassion researcher and author, explains that many people confuse this practice with self-pity, self-indulgence, or self-esteem. These understandings all miss the point. A better definition of Mindful Self-Compassion is: treating yourselves with kindness during moments of difficulty or suffering. I often recommend this practice to clients because it can increase life satisfaction, as well as decreased depression, anxiety and stress

If you are looking for a way to get started with this type of mindfulness practice, then here are a few of my favorite self-compassion meditations that can help you using the Insight Timer App….

Lisa Abramson - Five Minutes of Self-Compassion - 04:15
Kristin Neff - Self-Compassion Break - 05:20
Sharon Salzberg Lovingkindness Meditation · 15:04
Kristin Neff - Working With Emotions in the Body: Soften, Soothe, Allow - 16:01
Kristin Neff - Compassionate Body Scan - 23:55

Any mindful practice you begin to implement will feel new and different. But stay with it and see where it takes you. What I have found with my clients is mindfulness exercises are a great in giving you a new way to handle your "_________."

If you are in Nashville and need more support with handing your "_________" then contact Jessica for a free fifteen-minute phone consultation. 

A New Nightly Routine: Three Tools to Sleep Better

How are you sleeping at night? This is one of the first questions I ask when working with an individual. Quality of sleep is often a great revealer of the level of stress or sadness in a person’s life. Stress, fear, and sadness all impact our sleep cycles so it’s important to pay attention to this area of our lives. Your quality and length of sleep at night will impact your health and ability to navigate stressful situations during the day.

Here are three ideas about how to create a new nightly routine to help your sleep become deeper so that your stress and sadness can become smaller.

Yoga with Adrienne - Yoga for Bedtime

1. Try bedtime yoga. -  A good bedtime yoga routine can help you slow down . This change will not happen overnight, but in time this regular practice will begin to signal to your mind and body that it is time to rest. Yoga with Adrienne has a great free option if you are looking for a place to start. (Always remember to check with your doctor before making major changes to your physical routines). 

2. Create a gratitude journal. -  Before you turn off the lights write down a few things that happened during your day for which you are grateful. Taking note of both small things (like receiving a funny text from a co-worker) and larger moments (like booking your dream vacation) can help develop a sense of gratitude. Ending your day with a moment of gratitude can help you enter into more peaceful rest.

3. Schedule your worry. -  Instead of worrying right before you go to bed (because it may wake you up in the middle of the night) try before you go to bed pull out your planner or calendar app and schedule 5 to 10 minutes of worry for tomorrow. When that time arrives the next day then give yourself permission to lean into the worry, the “what ifs,” and the stress. Feel free to write out your worries during that brief period of time. When the timer goes off then make sure you move on to the next item on your schedule for the day. Saving time for worry until tomorrow will help you sleep tonight.  

These are just a few tips of how your might improve your nightly routine. If these ideas are helpful or if you would like to talk more about your stress and sadness with a counselor, then please contact Jessica to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to help you create a new routine for success. 

Self-Care Saturday: Self-Care for Teachers

Self-Care for Teachers | Nashville | Therapy

Dear Teachers, thank you for being our children’s cheerleaders, nurses, life-skill givers, role models, hope givers, and coaches. Did I mention educators? You wear many hats and give so much of yourself to your students. Thank you. 

But what about you? What are you leaving for yourself? How are you making sure your cup is full? What are your self-care practices? Here are a few extra you may want to add.

Ask for Help

Create space to question what areas of your life need additional support. Do you need to ask another teacher or class parent for assistance? Do you need help from family and friends at home? What about attending a training or conference to help you develop as an educator? 

Self-Care for Teacher | Nashville, TN | Counseling

If you work at a school where parents are not able to help, then consider contacting a local church.  Ask if one of their Bible classes or small groups would be willing to be a local, strategic partner with your classroom. Share the specific needs in your classroom. (If you are reading this and are not a teacher then think about how you or your community could partner with a classroom if that fits in with you own self-care practice).

Name a specific item that would help to free up time to take care of you. Then ask for help

Check in with your body

Do you need to eat nutritious foods, get more sleep, or exercise? Do you need to find another teacher to watch your class so you can take a much-needed bathroom break? What about simply taking a deep breath in the middle of a chaotic day? 

Set your daily intention

List the reasons you are a teacher. What values, passions, and personal strengths led you to this field? Use this list to clarify your intentions for every school day. You might also consider creating artwork that visualizes your intention.

Here is an example of what this daily intention could look like, “I am passionate about helping children find their own learning style and discover their incredible abilities. I am skilled at creating a safe environment where every child can learn to be their true self.”  Post it somewhere visible and set your daily intention.

Create an end of day ritual

Self-care ideas for teachers | Nashville Counseling

This is one way to strengthen boundaries between work and the rest of your life. You may laugh off the idea of leaving work at work. Yes, I recognize how grading, lesson plans, and school extracurriculars impact your schedule. On the other hand, if there is any way for you to create a space between your workload and your personal life then begin to implement an end of day ritual.

These rituals are anything you can do to close out your workday. Here are some ideas of how you can leave work after the bell rings (or after you finish your lesson plans hours after the bell rings):

·      Walk the perimeter of your classroom and say a prayer for your students.

·      Do a yoga pose or stretch.

·      Rub a favorite lotion into your hands.

·      Listen to an audiobook on the way home (I listened to all the Harry Potter audiobooks on the way home from my counseling internship and it was a great). 

·      Implement a five-minute meditation.

·      Turn off notifications for work emails on your phone.

·      Meet another teacher for a lap or two around the school or track.

·      Write down one “win” for the day. 

I hope this helps you in your self-care practices. If you are ready to add going to counseling as self-care practice and are in Nashville, then feel free to contact me at Jessica@JessicaMcCoyCounseling.com to schedule your free 15-minute phone consultation.