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Building Emotional Resilience during COVID-19

Building Emotional Resilience during COVID-19
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About the Author

Eileen Beltzner

Eileen Beltzner

Eileen is a Child and Youth Counsellor, a Registered Social Worker, a Psychotherapist & a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher offering MSC training to both adults, teens and healthcare communities.

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“Being strong is our only choice” during COVID-19. The good news is evidenced-based research shows that individuals who are more self-compassionate, “have the resilience needed to cope with stressful life events such as divorce, health crisis, academic failure, even combat trauma. (Neff & Germer, 2018)

I have been offering my expertise on ways to help to increase your level of self-compassion for this very reason. In the “Steps to Keep Us in Useful Worry & Out of Useless Worry” article you were introduced to the Soften-Soothe and Allow practice. The article that followed was Parents Take a Mindful Self-Compassion Break.. Once this article was posted, I realized there are so many other people besides parents who might benefit from becoming acquainted with the Self-Compassion Break and guided recordings that accompany it; because; we are all living through “stressful life events.” Though these events may be different for each of us, what you may be witnessing and living through right now during the COVID-19 pandemic is traumatic.

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley

You may be afraid what the future will bring because you have no idea what your own and or shared world will look like when this is over. You may be in the high risk categories, not even sure if you will live through this. You may even be ill with COVID-19 or have other health concerns. You might also be concerned you cannot afford to pay the rent or buy groceries. You may be worried about your elderly relatives or concerned about those you know who have no one nearby to encourage and support them through this time.

The list of concerns you may have may not be in this list, but rest assured your individual concern, whatever it may be, is probably shared by a few million people in similar circumstances as you.

You are not alone!

Now I will get to the practice I shared with parents and I now want to share with everyone else … the Self-Compassion Break

What is the Self-Compassion Break?

The Self-Compassion Break is a practice that teaches people how to apply the three core components of self-compassion:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Common humanity
  3. Self-kindness

 

This practice teaches us how to sit with our discomfort, feel our feelings and then offer ourselves self-kindness.  It also contains an action step to help us answer what we might need in that moment and then give it to our self as best we can.  This is what is called the action step of the self-compassion break.

Once you become familiar with this practice; and it is exactly that … a practice, it can become second nature to you to you to comfort and support yourself when needed.  And, if you are saying right now to yourself that is really what I need to learn how to do; always remember, just because a person may  want to learn to play the violin, they will never learn how to play if they just read the instruction manual. This is why I strongly encourage you to listen to the recorded guidance to practice with the steps yourself.

Note

*Prior to initiating the steps that follow you need to first identify for yourself what is known as in MSC as your soothing touch or comforting gesture so you can find out you what feels comforting to you. Listen to the guided recordings titled  “Soothing Touch” and  “Experimenting with Physical Self-Compassion Gestures.” at: mindfulselfcompassiontraining.podbean.com

I also recommend you listen to the guided recordings of the Self-Compassion Break practices too.

 

Self-Compassion Break

  1. Bring forward in your mind a situation that is causing you stress such as a relationship problem, a health problem or some other struggle. In the beginning, as you become familiar with this practice, choosing a problem in the mild to moderate range (not more than a 4 out of 10). Why? Because the idea behind this instruction is have you become familiar with this practice in a safe way and not put yourself out of your *window of tolerance. (see previous article)
  2. Visualize the situation as clearly as you can in your mind. What is the setting? Who is saying what to whom? What is happening? What might happen? If you notice you can’t feel discomfort in your body as you bring the difficulty to mind, please choose a slightly more difficult problem.
  3. Now, try saying to yourself: “This is a moment of suffering.” That’s mindfulness. Perhaps other phrases speak to you better. Some options are:
  • This is hard
  • This is painful.
  • This is stressful.
  1. Now try saying to yourself: “Suffering is part of life.”

That’s common humanity. Other options include:

  • I’m not alone.
  • Everyone experiences this, just like me.
  • This is how it feels to struggle in this way.
  1. The next step: Offering yourself the soothing touch or comforting gesture you identified by listening to the guided recording you identified as being comforting to you.
  2. And try saying to yourself: “May I be kind to myself” or “May I give myself what I need.”

Of course there will be times for you, like there are for me, when you don’t know what you might need to hear or what the kindest thing you might do for yourself is right in that moment; and that’s when you might ask yourself, “if a dear friend was hurting or struggling in the same way as I am right now, what would I say to this friend?” And, when you come up with some words, say the very same words to yourself.

The link below will take you to a number of practices. Mindfulness of Sound, Mindfulness of Body Sensations, Mindfulness of Breathing and Waiting on Yourself. These are “grounding practices.” Grounding basically means noticing what is happening to you physically, either in your body or in your surroundings.  Grounding can help you get out of thoughts that are causing “useless worry” and causing you to feel anxious.

mindfulselfcompassiontraining.podbean.com

Reminder: The more you listen and become familiar with these practices the more they will be available to you to put into action when needed.

Additional Information:

More articles by Eileen Beltzner are available on OakvilleNews.Org.

 

You can also purchase  her latest book: How to Tame the Tumbles: The Mindful Self-Compassionate Way

 

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