Many people find self-compassion hard. Whether it’s the mentality that we need always to be succeeding, an increase in what is termed toxic perfectionism (up 33% 1989–2016), or a social idea that criticism pushes us forward, the idea of being compassionate is something that evades us.
Dr Chris Irons and Dr Elaine Beaumont have developed a brand new app called Self Compassion that uses the exciting field of Compassion Focussed Therapy to empower users to take a kinder stance towards themselves. With more than 50 interactive practices and daily tools, this app has been scientifically proven to help users increase well-being while reducing anxiety and self-criticism.
Dr Elaine Beaumont, the co-founder of the Self Compassion App and cognitive behavioural psychotherapist and compassion-focused therapist, says: ‘Rather than treating ourselves self-critically which has been found to reduce well-being and leave us feeling more distressed – self-compassion involves learning to treat ourselves like a good friend, being interested in our well-being, and doing things that are helpful and supportive and which ultimately, can help us live a happier life. The best thing you can do for your mental well-being is to be kinder to yourself.’
‘A large amount of research has found that self-compassion is linked to higher well-being and happiness. There are lots of ideas about why this might be the case. Still, a simple one is the following: if you wanted a close friend to feel happy and good about themselves, which do you feel is more likely to achieve this – being critical, cold, and uncaring to them, or treating them with compassion, care, and kindness?’
‘Most of us understand quickly what makes other people feel better about themselves, but don’t recognise that the most important relationship you’ll have in life may well be the one you have with yourself,’ says Dr Chris Irons, Clinical Psychologist, co-founder of the Self Compassion App and a leading expert in Compassion Focused Therapy.
Their app contains a complete course and a toolkit of exercises to help people develop compassion for themselves and others and practice every day. Here are a few takeaways that anyone can start trying today:
- Use your body and mind in tandem. Consider your posture, tone of voice and facial expressions. If you’re scowling or speaking angrily, it will be challenging to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Act like you’re in the company of a good friend – yourself.
- No one teaches us how to breathe correctly. Which is surprising, given how fundamental it is to live. Deep regular breaths will soothe the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a sense of calm.
- Visualise a time when you’ve felt cared for and loved. Take the time to feel the sensations it evoked in you. Even this process of imagining can help you boost compassionate feelings towards yourself.
- Remember, we’re different selves at different times. Tune into your happy self and bring more of it into your life by mimicking thoughts and behaviours.
- Write yourself a loving letter full of support and compassion. The benefit here is that you’ll have something concrete to look back at when being compassionate feels hard.
Rather than technology being a hindrance to our mental health, innovative solutions available via our phones can help us with common issues such as anxiety, grief, and lack of self-compassion when delivered in the right way.
Given that 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England, we need to reach people where they are and do it in a supportive, systematic, and affordable way.
This tool provides support that’s more affordable than therapy and more effective than merely reading a book. In each app, a structured, guided, and the interactive programme takes you through a self-therapeutic process broken down into bite-sized chunks that you can work through at your own pace.
Users are encouraged to absorb helpful information and ideas and are shown how to apply the advice to their own life with interactive tools they can access anytime. It’s only through contemplation and action that habits are formed, so the apps are practical, encouraging real, lasting change.
Nick Begley, the founder of Psychological Technologies, the app startup behind Self Compassion App, says: ‘It’s easy to neglect our mental health and argue that we don’t have time to work on it. We wanted to make the benefits of therapy available to everyone, at the cost of a coffee a week, and through our apps, we know we can provide immediate help to those who need it, at scale.’
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