We’ve been living in a pandemic for nearly a year now. For myself, it has felt like the longest and shortest year, all at the same time. For a year, we have been adjusting and adapting to the ever changing reality of our world – with so much uncertainty, never really knowing what the next day, week, or month will hold. For many folks, the past year has brought on homeschooling, working from home, continuing to go to work as an essential worker – facing risk of exposure every day, caring for loved ones young and old, financial insecurity and uncertainty, job loss, further social isolation, and mental health struggles. Of course, we cannot forget other world events occurring around us while in this pandemic state – most noteworthy being the anti-racism movement and protests following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

With all of this uncertainty and change, I believe that self-compassion can act as a powerful force in helping us to show ourselves the kindness we deserve and help us navigate these difficult times. For myself, it has been useful in helping me shift my inner narrative when I fall into self-criticism – whether that be with my ability to strike a work-life balance while adjusting to working from home or the fears I face as a mother parenting a toddler through the current state of the world.

We can think of self-compassion as having three main components – mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness:

  • mindful awareness that we are in a moment of suffering without labeling it as good or bad
  • recognizing that pain and suffering is part of what makes us human and connects us with others
  • giving ourselves the kindness we would offer a dear friend during a time of need.

A brief practice that I have been using is called the “Self-Compassion Break”, developed by self-compassion researcher Dr. Kristin Neff. This practice helps remind us to apply the three components of self-compassion in a moment of pain or struggle. Written instructions for the practice can be found here:

Self Compassion Break

Or you may wish to try the guided version of the exercise found here:

Self Compassion Break audio guide

As our world continues to be filled with ups and downs, joys and pains, my hope is that this brief self-compassion practice may help you find the space to be able to open up and turn toward those difficult times – giving yourself the care and compassion you deserve.

Lindsay has some availability in her practice at The Space Within. Contact her at:

Lindsay Rafuse, MSW, RSW lindsay.rafuse@thespacewithin.ca 519-275-2187 extension 11