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. 

5 Tips for Busy Women

Nashville Counseling - busyiness

You’re busy. I get it. Your calendar is full. I get it. You don't have time to add something else. I get it. I know it’s hard work to stay as busy as you do. I am not making light of your busy schedule. But I also know that we often times give busyness permission to drive our lives and we do nothing to stop it. We are so used to a crazy pace that we grow numb to how this way of life is wearing us down.

But you do not have to live this way. A more balanced way of life is possible, but it is going to take some self-reflection and hard work. It is going to take some time and space where you can review your thoughts, feelings, and actions so that you can move forward in a healthy, balanced way.

Here are 5 tips to help you move from a busy to a balanced life.

1. Reorganize your calendar based on balanced priorities.

Open your calendar. Look over the last month. What has fallen through the cracks? What meeting do you keep putting off? Who is the friend you have not seen in a while? Look ahead to the next month and write down now those people, places, and events most important to you. Schedule them in and make them a priority. Begin to create a calendar that gives priority to your health, relationships, personal growth, career, and spirituality. Your balanced life often starts with a balanced calendar.

2. Say "No" to one new opportunity.

"No" is a full sentence, but it is often a hard one to say. Maybe you don't want to hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe the pressure to say "Yes" is stronger than the act of saying "No." So next time someone asks you to add something to your plate try saying, "Let me think about it." Then give yourself some time to reflect to see if it is the right choice for you at this time. You do have to say "Yes" to anything you do not want to do. By saying “No” you will find greater balance in your day-to-day life.  

3. Learn your self-care red flags.

five tips for busy women + nashville

When we get busy we often have coping mechanisms to endure the crazy pace. There are often signs we are getting overwhelmed if we will stop to notice them. So take some time to ask: what are the behaviors or patterns that show up when you are burned out or tired? Maybe for you it is overeating or drinking more than usual. Maybe it is binge-watching Netflix for the entire weekend. Maybe it is staying up too late or avoiding work tasks. Pay attention to your red flags so that you can know when to respond to yourself with care. When you do, then you will begin to move towards balance.

4. Begin a gratitude journal in the morning or evening.

You are a busy woman. Creating time and space for self-reflection is hard to fit in. But adding a morning or nightly practice of writing in a journal can help your busy spirit. It will not take long. Just take a few moments as your day begins or ends to write where you found joy in that day or the previous one. This exercise has a way of calming down our busyness by helping us to see the blessings in our life.

5. Ask for help.

Name the people in your life that you can ask for help. Can you ask for help with one of the things that is falling through the cracks of your calendar? Can a loved one meet you for coffee or help you finish a large project at your house? Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength because it shows you know your limits. Reflect on who you want or need to help you in this busy season of life. Leaning on them for a season may be the key to helping you have a more balanced life.

If you would like to talk more about moving from busy to balanced living, then feel free to contact me for a 15-minute phone consultation to see if I might be a good fit for you.

Three Ways to Navigate Life's Transitions

Transitions happen. Life changes. Some changes are planned and some are surprises. Some are joyful and some are stressful. Graduating, starting a new job, and moving are just a few of life's major transitions. 

Every transition is full of emotions. Take moving houses. Your emotional response may span from excitement (you found the perfect new house) to grief (your child took her first step in your old house).  It is hard to make all decisions needed when moving while you are swaying between excitement and grief. 

I have been there. In the last 11 years, I moved in and out of Lipscomb's dorm rooms, apartments, and houses on an average of once a year. Each move was full of joy, sadness, and worry. No matter how many times I moved I was still stressed about finding a new home, packing, and unpacking.  (Life Hack: sometimes it is okay to move your clothes in trash bags.) Transitions need a lot of flexibility to navigate through the changes. 

Currently, I am navigating my own transition in moving my office to another space. Moving my practice is a professional change, but affected my personal life. Finding a new space, packing, and unpacking requires a lot of emotional energy, flexibility, and hard decisions. What a relief it was to find a great space close to my office in Nashville. 

HERE ARE SOME CONCEPTS TO REMEMBER WHEN MAKING A LIFE TRANSITION.

  • Be aware of your emotions. 

How do you feel about this transition? Are you feeling excited, afraid, sad, grief, disappointment, anger, or joyful? After naming the emotion, be curious about how that emotion is impacting your thoughts or your behavior. For example, “Is my disappointment about not getting my dream job affecting my behavior in my marriage?” 

  • Be flexible. 

Determine what matters the most to you and make those nonnegotiable.Next, question how would you feel being flexible with your other ideas. For example, “I need to have adequate parking for my new office space, but how would I feel in an office with no window?"  Try it out and see what feels right to you. 

  • Be compassionate with yourself. 

Transitions are hard enough without being hard on yourself. In the moments when you are feeling overwhelmed take four deep breaths and practice self-compassion. Kristin Neff’s self-compassion break is a helpful tool. Here is an example to say to yourself, “This is stress. Other people feel this way during a transition. May I be kind to myself.”

Those are just a few ways to navigate life's transition. Check out more information about my new Nashville counseling office, here.   If you are in the middle of a transition and need help processing the change, call to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.