In addition to looking after our physical health during the fallout from this pandemic, we need to bolster positive feelings we have towards ourselves.
The place for self-compassion might seem low on the rung of our survival instincts, but drawing on this inner resource enhances resilience, motivation and overall wellbeing.
As human beings we're generally quite good at being compassionate to others, but can we say the same about ourselves?
Literally meaning to suffer together, compassion - and when directed inwards, self-compassion - is based on three core principles: mindfulness (paying attention to the thing that's causing discomfort or stress); linking to common humanity (acknowledging that everyone goes through challenging times during their lives); and being kind and supportive to ourselves as we face adversity.
Becoming more self-compassionate is a self-care resource learned in part by connecting with our innate compassion for others. It acknowledges that no one is perfect or leads perfect lives - which makes us even more compassionate, not less.
From time to time we all act in ways we're not proud of, but rather than becoming inwardly punitive, we need to become loving and kind. In our daily COVID-19 lives we're juggling so much more - homeschooling, working from home and being full-time caterer, entertainer and mediator. There's nothing wrong with prioritising other people's needs but it shouldn't compromise our own. It's often during challenging times we become our harshest critic, instead of being there for ourselves. Much suffering comes from our own inner judgment, which can impact mental health.
Tuning into our inner voice helps us notice if we're harbouring feelings such as inadequacy, harsh judgment or inner criticism. If you notice you're being overly critical or judgmental, call to mind some words of comfort you might offer a friend facing something similar, then flip it and offer these to yourself. It can even help placing a hand on your heart in reassurance you're there for yourself.
Being self-compassionate is not vain, rather it's about applying the same standards to yourself you would to others you care deeply about. Tapping into this resource is a strength perhaps you were not even aware you possessed. Challenges can be transformed into a moment of presence by befriending yourself and becoming your own cheerleader. You are positioned better than anyone else to do this.
Ros Ben-Moshe is an adjunct lecturer at La Trobe University, and positivity, resilience and wellbeing coach at LaughLife Wellbeing Programs.