Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Self-compassion: Caring for Ourselves

Video on self-compassion by Dorothy Armstrong.
Hello, welcome to the section on self-compassion and self-care. It’s really important at this time that in the work that you’re doing that in order to care for your patients and perhaps their relatives and certainly your colleagues that you care for yourself. In this section, we’re going to take you through some of the theory from this and also talk about a few tools and tips that may help you. I’m drawing mainly on the work of Kristin Neff and Chris Germer, who are two American psychologists, and they have published widely on this from their research and their evidence. I’m going to share their model with you as we go through the session.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the safety brief on a plane where you are asked to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. And I think it’s a statement that we can relate to. We understand that. And it’s even more important at the minute where you may be working longer hours than usual, where you may not be able to find the downtime that you would have normally. So this is great at the best of times but particularly at the moment. I would really encourage you to think through some of the key messages in this short presentation.
One of my favourite, definitions, if you like, of what is self-compassion by Kristin Neff is to treat yourself the way you would a good friend and even to think about that for a moment. You may be finding yourself working in an area that you’re not that familiar with. Or indeed, the work itself is extremely challenging, demanding, both physically and mentally, exhausting, perhaps. You’re working longer hours than you would normally. You maybe feel that you’re not functioning at your best. You may even have made a mistake.
And if you’re in that position, I’d like you to think about what you would say to a good friend who was asking for your support and then compare that to what you often say to yourself, I know that most of us are own worst self critics, and yet we are extremely caring and compassionate with others. So what this is asking you to do is to be as kind to yourself as you would a colleague or friend or a member of your family and avoid that self-critical side. In the model that’s used, this is the mindful self-compassion model, which I’ve amended slightly. And there are three elements, and I’m just going to talk you through them very briefly.
The first one is that self-awareness that we’ve talked about in other steps– ability to be aware of the present and to recognise what is happening with acceptance and acknowledgment and absolutely without judgement, the way that you would a friend, so, “Oh gosh, this is really hard at the moment”, or “I am really struggling today.” “I’m feeling very sad.” “I’m actually really scared about what’s going to happen.”
Then we move on to the self-kindness, and that’s thinking about what would be the most supportive and encouraging thing I could do for me right now. And it’s about doing that with authenticity and that unconditional acceptance. It might be something very simple, like “I need to go and take five minutes” or “I need to go and breathe deeply for two minutes.” It’s amazing what you can do when you have that awareness, even in a very short period of time. And then the third element here is that common humanity. Particularly at the moment, there is so much going on across the world globally where we are connected.
We absolutely are recognising our imperfections and the suffering that many of us are either undergoing or we see in others. And as clinicians, that is something that many of us have kind of accepted, and may have got used to. But it’s something that we need to recognise can be really hard and can be a struggle. But we are not alone. You are not alone.

In this video, Dorothy Armstrong looks at the importance of caring for yourself in the context of caring for your patients, relatives and colleagues. She discusses theory and offers practical tools that might help you.

This article is from the free online

COVID-19 Critical Care: Understanding and Application

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now