The easiest way to kill stress and tension is: Don’t be so hard on yourself!
People who are more compassionate towards themselves experience less stress, new research finds.
Self-compassion is also linked to more:
- feeling alive,
- and energy.
The conclusions come from a study of students coping with their first year at college.
Dr Katie Gunnell, the study’s first author, said:
“Our study suggests the psychological stress students may experience during the transition between high school and university can be mitigated with self-compassion because it enhances the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which in turn, enriches well-being.”
Self-compassion has three components, the study’s authors explain:
(1) self-kindness, which represents the ability to be caring and kind to ourselves rather than excessively critical,
(2) common humanity, which represents an understanding that everyone makes mistakes and fails and our experience is part of a larger common experience,
and (3) mindfulness, which represents being present and aware while keeping thoughts in balance rather than overidentifying.”
Professor Peter Crocker, a study co-author, said:
“Research shows first-year university is stressful.
Students who are used to getting high grades may be shocked to not do as well in university, feel challenged living away from home, and are often missing important social support they had in high school.
Self-compassion appears to be an effective strategy or resource to cope with these types of issues.”
One way to increase this sense of self-compassion is to carry out a writing exercise.
Think about a recent negative experience and write about it.
Crucially, though, you need to write about it while being compassionate towards yourself.
In other words: don’t be too critical and recognise that everyone makes mistakes.
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Gunnell et al., 2017).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
→ Try PsyBlog’s motivation ebook: “Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything”