How to Have Self-Compassion Right Now
When it comes to your health, perfection is not attainable.
Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, things just don’t go according to plan.
Of course, there will be:
- Days when you accidentally eat too much and feel uncomfortably stuffed.
- Days when you accidentally eat too little and then you’re ravenously hungry in the middle of your 3 p.m. conference call, and you can barely hear your colleagues speak over the sound of your rumbling stomach.
- Days when you eat mindlessly in front of the T.V. or computer instead of savoring your food at the table.
- Days when that old self-critical voice starts badgering you (“You shouldn’t eat that,” “You never do anything consistently,” “You should be better than this!”)
- And of course, days when you forget to meditate, skip your workout, drink way too much coffee, or not enough water, and a million other disruptions to your ideal routine.
These “uh oh” moments are inevitable. The key is getting things back to your feel-good routine quickly so that one “uh oh” moment doesn’t turn into an “uh oh” week, month, or year.
When you notice an “uh oh” moment happening, or sense that one is about to happen, what’s the game plan? Can you enjoy it and then gracefully return to your usual rhythm? How can you get things back on track without letting your inner critic out?
Here’s what works for me:
- Get curious. Instead of being critical, bring curiosity to the issue. Ask yourself, “Hmm, I wonder why I just inhaled half a jar of peanut butter? Was I physically hungry? Emotionally hungry? Both?” Try to figure out what’s up, so you can be pro-active for the future.
- Notice when you’re feeling depleted or stressed and take action. Gently ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” A time-out from your phone and all the stressful news? A nap? Quality time on your yoga mat? Give yourself what you need. Nourish yourself physically and emotionally, as best you can. When your cup is full, you’ll have way fewer “uh oh” moments.
- Re-commit to your daily non-negotiables. Your daily non-negotiable list = small, realistic things you do to keep yourself nourished and feeling good. Decide what your non-negotiables will be, and commit strongly. Make a pact with yourself that you will do these every day, no matter what, just like brushing your teeth. Even if it’s raining, even if you’re stuck inside, no matter what the scenario may be, these are the auto-pilot habits that keep you strong.
- Bring some humor to the situation. It’s okay to laugh at yourself. Whoops, so you polished off an entire carton of coconut milk ice cream in one sitting, or rather, one “standing”—hovering by the open freezer door? Well, life happens. It’s not like you orchestrated your husband’s murder and then fed his body to a tiger. All things considered, you’re doing just fine. It’s all good. And you can make different choices tomorrow.
Right now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of our usual routines are upside down. Your favorite spin class? Not happening. Quiet time to meditate? Much tougher when the house is packed with all the kids, all day long. Date night with the husband? More like couch night. Again!
We’re all dealing with lots of disruption and stress, which leads to, you guessed it, a lot more “uh oh” moments than usual. That’s to be expected. And it’s okay.
Please don’t punish yourself for experiencing an “uh oh” moment, or two, or ten. Being cruel to yourself only makes it that much harder to get back into your optimal routine. You can’t bully yourself into better health. Only love brings you there. (Read that again!)
Create new rituals to support yourself during this unusual time. I’ll be right there with you—doing my best, trying to prevent those “oh uh” moments as much as possible, and trying to find the silver linings every day.
Be good to yourself.