9 Psychology Practices to Lead Yourself Through a Crisis

9 Psychology Practices to Lead Yourself Through a Crisis

via Psychology Today by Maike Neuhaus

“Do unto yourself as you would do unto others” A slightly twisted version of the famous Golden Rule, and one that is possibly more important now than ever.

Research shows that the way we talk to ourselves is generally more critical and cruel than we would to others. We tell ourselves that we’re not good enough, shouldn’t be eating so much, should be a better parent, or get more done. All that even though daily stressors have increased dramatically for many of us in a way unknown to most of us before.

Alexandre Chambon @goodsplee/ Unsplash

Source: Alexandre Chambon @goodsplee/ Unsplash

Unable to leave the house, visit or care for our loved ones, we’re lacking the social connection, sunlight, and movement that are vital for mental health and wellbeing. At the same time, many are suddenly caring for, educating, and entertaining their children, while facing the same pressure to perform for work. Borders of work and life are blurred more than ever. Others have lost jobs and are facing a fragile economy to find new work.

Self-compassion is a practice that we can all cultivate to make the negative impacts of the pandemic a little more bearable. Research shows that, contrary to the popular belief that self-compassion leads to complacency, it actually increases motivation.

In fact, studies have shown that self-compassion also builds other psychological resources and skills that let us transform a crisis into personal growth by increasing our ability to cope, as well as fostering mindfulness, compassion, happiness, social connectedness, and general life satisfaction.

Moreover, there is evidence that it reduces depressionanxiety, stress, emotional eating, and emotional avoidance – a process referred to as ‘buffering’. And, it protects our mental health by reducing cortisol levels and increasing heart rate variability, and enhancing our ability to perceive benefits during adversity – a process called ‘bolstering’.

Self-compassion is one of nine positive psychology factors and practices that have been shown to facilitate building, buffering, and bolstering processes.

Buffering, bolstering, and building explained

Buffering is the process in which negative psychological impacts of stress are reduced by psychosocial resources, such as positivity, gratitude, or social support.

Bolstering is the effect of sustained mental health during stressful experiences due to psychosocial resources.

Dr Maike Neuhaus

Buffering, bolstering, and building explainedSource: Dr Maike Neuhaus

And building refers to the act of transforming a crisis into personal growth by learning new skills or adopting a more supportive attitude.

A recent scientific article published by Lea Waters and colleagues in the Journal of Positive Psychology (full reference below) summarised the research evidence behind the

It’s one of those papers that are brilliant but, if you ask me, don’t reach the broader public in an understandable and/or accessible format quickly enough. It’s timely, too, so I wanted to share it with you in my words and through my filter (#disclaimer).

So, let’s look at what these nine factors entail, what we know about their impact on mental health/ illness (i.e. through buffering, bolstering, building, or a combination), and how you can cultivate them in life (without wanting to add to your list of ‘shoulds’, of course).

9 positive psychological factors that benefit mental health and wellbeing

1. Self-compassion

Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same care, love, and respect as you would a close friend who was struggling.

Educational Psychologist Professor Kristin Neff explains that self-compassion has three elements: mindfulness, self-kindness, and common humanity.

Mindfulness is required to be able to perceive your pain point or suffering and to be able to do so without judgment (e.g. ‘I shouldn’t feel angry, because I’m better off than many others’). Self-kindness means that once we have acknowledged our suffering, we are proactive in the way that we care for ourselves. What is it that we need to get back up?

Common humanity is the awareness that everyone is imperfect, that failure is a normal part of humanity, and that we all suffer and have struggles and make mistakes. Common humanity is also what distinguishes self-compassion from self-pity, which does not include this element.

You can cultivate self-compassion by paying attention to the times that you talk negatively to yourself. Simply acknowledge this thought pattern and identify a more supportive way to talk to yourself: What would you say to your best friend at this moment?

Remind yourself of your goal and remember that supporting and encouraging yourself will get you there a lot faster than criticizing and insulting yourself. Be patient with yourself to overcome this habit. Ensuring that you don’t get upset or frustrated with yourself is the perfect way of practicing self-compassion…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE