By Julie Potiker
Research shows that practicing mindfulness in everyday life can help us feel less distracted, reduce anxiety, improve memory and concentration and better manage crises like dealing with the pandemic. Mindful self-compassion can even give us a leg up when it comes to keeping New Year’s resolutions!
Studies show that people who are compassionate toward themselves are more likely to try again when they fail to achieve a goal, Julie notes. They don’t see failure as a blow to their self-concept. They recognize that everyone fails, and see failure as a growth opportunity.
Here is Julie’s S.N.A.P. method to help people be more mindful and self-compassionate:
S: Soothing Touch – Place your hands in a supportive location; that might be your chest, belly, hugging your upper arms, or cradling your face. Try different locations and see which location feels soothing. This supportive touch will allow oxytocin and endorphins to help calm your nervous system.
N: Name the emotion – This calms down the stress response and gives you time to locate it in your body and soften around it.
A: Act – It’s time to use a tool to help yourself feel better. Asking the crucial Mindful Self-Compassion question — “What do I need right now?” — is the best place to start. Then do what can reasonably be done with what you’ve got in the moment. If you are driving, it might be controlling your breathing, with your exhale being longer than your inhale to slow your blood pressure and heart rate. I often put one hand on the wheel, and the other hand on my heart! With toddler tantrums or teen drama, it can be helpful to drop your attention to the soles of your feet as you control your breathing to slow the whole show down. With teen or adult family drama, try to stay in your body, breathing in compassion for yourself because it’s so difficult, and breathing out compassion for them because they are suffering (even though their behavior might be disturbing). This can help calm your nervous system. Depending on your work situation, you may have more options for in-the-moment relief if you can close the door (even if it’s in the bathroom stall) to give yourself a few minutes of quiet reflection. You can ground yourself with a polished stone that you keep on your desk, ground through the soles of your feet, take a break at the water cooler, or exhale longer than you inhale for a few rounds of breathing.
P: Praise – Thank your practice for helping you manage the stress! Thank yourself for showing up day after day, trying to do your best. Thank the universe, or your spirit of choice, for giving you the strength and courage to keep on keeping on.
With New Year’s resolutions, you can use S.N.A.P. to pick yourself up, rather than beat yourself up, if at first you don’t succeed, Julie says.
“Perhaps you will want to try a more attainable goal, break your goal into baby steps, or give yourself more time to attain your goal. Whatever course you choose, you will be more resilient, and more likely to keep trying, when you are kind to yourself.”
Julie Potiker is a mindfulness expert with extensive teacher training in a variety of tools and methods, including Mindful Self-Compassion. Through her Mindful Methods for Life program offerings and her book — “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos” — Julie helps others bring more peace and wellness into their lives. MindfulMethodsForLife.com