The impact of compassion on mental health and well-being

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Love is not easy. Sometimes it’s hard.

Taylor Crouch, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, specializes in how physical pain affects emotional pain. Often when these issues manifest themselves, Crouch’s work shows that it can lead to someone feeling self-critical, disconnected, or lonely in their relationships. Crouch focuses on increasing patient connections to facilitate healing from feelings of detachment and isolation. This includes having more positive connections with themselves.

“Sometimes patients may worry that self-compassion makes them lazy or self-indulgent, but self-compassion is very different from being self-indulgent. It really is having an attitude of wanting to be as healthy as possible and live the best life possible by making lifestyle changes. a place of self-care and self-love,” Crouch said.

Crouch spoke to VCU Health News about how compassion, mental health and well-being can connect to strengthen our self-image and relationships with others – and what we can do to love ourselves and others more.

What does it mean to have a self-love practice? And what does that look like in one’s daily life?

There can be a more formal practice of self-love and then there are more informal day-to-day habits that allow us to love ourselves. A more formal self-compassion practice might be to set aside some time each day to practice types of meditation focused on cultivating loving-kindness, also called metta meditation, as well as other exercises to build daily mindfulness practices. We can practice paying attention to the inner critic in our thoughts and replacing that harsh inner voice with kinder, more compassionate words.

In everyday life, we can engage in self-care activities instead of just focusing on caring for other people, our jobs and responsibilities. We can set aside time in our day to do little things just because we like to do them, whether it’s going for a walk, listening to our favorite music or taking a longer-than-necessary shower.

Self-love can also be self-advocacy, like speaking up for ourselves, defending our needs and desires in personal and professional relationships, which can be difficult and vulnerable.

How does having a loving and/or positive relationship with yourself help your mental health and well-being?

There is a large body of psychological research that shows that self-compassion and self-love have a strong impact on our mental health and emotional state, both in terms of decreasing anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness as well as increasing support and encouragement. for ourselves.

Our positive state can increase feelings of happiness, gratitude, and connection with others. This self-compassion allows us to calm our nervous system and lessen the self-critical voices, which allows us to be more engaged with our world and with other people. Self-compassion helps us feel more connected with other people because the more self-compassionate we are, the more we are able to be compassionate with others and connect with others. Therefore, self-compassion can also increase our motivation and energy to do things that are important to us.

Whether platonic or romantic, how can a self-love practice also build stronger or more loving relationships?

When we can be compassionate with ourselves, it opens the door to being accepting and loving towards other people. When we’re stuck in a negative state of mind – even if it’s only about ourselves and not others – the emotional impacts can prevent us from connecting with others.

One of the key components of self-compassion is keeping your common humanity in mind and being aware that your experiences are connected to the experiences of others. Everyone suffers, which allows us to be more empathetic and compassionate with ourselves and others. This is good for friendships and relationships.

Humans are wired to connect with other people, whether it’s through words, spending time together, or physical touch. We need to be connected to others and that degree of connection directly affects our mental health.

There is an epidemic of loneliness in our society right now. While we have other ways to connect now through technology and social media, more people report feeling lonely than ever before. And that ties into things like depression, anxiety, physical health issues, and our emotional well-being.

How can people build stronger, more loving relationships while maintaining a practice of self-love?

When we are working on our relationship with ourselves, being more kind and compassionate with ourselves, what is likely happening is that you are also building feelings of love and compassion towards other people and vice versa.

Now, most of us are better at being kind and loving to other people than we are to ourselves.

If you’re struggling with how to be kind to yourself, you might ask, “How does that feel? How does it sound?” People often find it difficult to find an answer to this.

But if you’re someone who cares about and loves other people, you might ask yourself, “How would I talk to my best friend right now? What would I say to my partner if he was struggling with this? What kind of tone of voice would I use?” if I were talking to someone who is suffering? How would I appear to someone else?”

Reversing your self-talk to explore how helping someone else can be used as a tool to find ways to better support yourself.

Provided by Virginia Commonwealth University

Quote: Q&A: The Impact of Compassion on Mental Health and Well-Being (2023, Feb 9) retrieved Feb 10, 2023 from compassion-mental-health.html

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The impact of compassion on mental health and well-being

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