By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy in Northern Virginia
For so many, the recent months have required a bit of flexibility. The pandemic has left many individuals, parents, and families juggling multiple roles. We are all trying to figure things out day by day. In moments of high stress and frustration, we may find ourselves losing our cool or being overly critical of ourselves. We are in a new place together, and there will be times that we miss the mark. All of us will make mistakes. But, a key piece of our resilience during this time is how we relate to ourselves in the moments that we make mistakes.
Unlike self-care, self-compassion cues into how we are relating to our self. Are we critical? Do we judge our self when we mess up? Do we keep judging our self against an unrealistic ideal? While being nice to our self may sound simple, it can be difficult in practice because we are often taught that being nice to our self makes us complacent and unmotivated. Research shows the opposite. Taking self-compassion breaks throughout the day can increase our ability to cope, increase our motivation, and decrease depression and anxiety.
Recognize moments of difficulty.
The first step to increasing self-compassion is recognizing moments of difficulty. Start to notice how your body feels when you are in distress. What thoughts come to mind? When you feel moments of distress, put your hand over your heart, and take a deep breath. Putting your hand on your heart helps you to reconnect with your body, while increasing feelings of nurturance and safety.
Remind yourself that others struggle too.
Once we recognize that we are in distress, it is helpful to remind our self that others struggle too. This pandemic has been stressful for many people. Many people have had to cope with loneliness, overwhelm, anxiety, worry, and fear throughout the changes that have happened. You are not alone.
Be kind to yourself.
If a friend was sharing his or her struggles with you, what would you say? How would you show care? You deserve the same kindness and care in moments of distress.
Debra has over ten years of community and clinical work with individuals, children, parents, and families and has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and Autism Research and Treatment. She received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University and has gained specialized, intensive training in emotionally focused therapy (EFT) and Theraplay. She also has skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strengths-based therapies, self-compassion training, attachment-based therapies, play therapy, and solution-focused therapy.
Dr. Debra Rezendes is a Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working towards licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Virginia. She works under the supervision of Marianne S. Coad, MAMFC, LMFT, LPC-S. In the event that clients have any questions or concerns about Debra’s work, her supervisor can be contacted at email@example.com, (703) 657-9721, or 10379-B Democracy Lane, Fairfax, VA 22030.