15 Self-Compassion Tools for Taking Care of the Caregiver

self compassion

Beating up on yourself increases caregiver stress

Caring for an older adult is tough – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

What adds to that stress is how we treat ourselves. How many times have you beat yourself up for a small mistake or for not being able to meet an impossible goal?

This emotional stress is a significant contributor to caregiver burnout.

Being hard on yourself is only natural. You want the best for your older adult and you’re pushing yourself to the max in order to give it to them.

But it’s also important to realize that being hard on yourself increases stress and makes it more difficult to sustain caregiving in the long run.

To help you be kinder to yourself and reduce stress, we found 15 quick and simple self-compassion tools from a leading psychologist.



How self-compassion helps caregivers

Self-compassion means giving the same kindness and sympathy to yourself as you would give to a good friend.

Psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff is an expert in self-compassion. Her research finds that people who are compassionate to themselves are less likely to be depressed, anxious, or stressed. They’re also more likely to be happy, resilient, and optimistic about the future.

Think of the way you’d talk to your friend and contrast that with how you normally talk to yourself. Pretty different, right?

Having self-compassion basically means being nicer to yourself – that’s a sure way to feel better, no matter what else is going on around you.


15 self-compassion tools reduce caregiver stress

Dr. Neff’s website has 15 free resources to help you practice self-compassion.

7 guided meditations
These 7 guided meditations make it easy to get started with meditation. Just find a quiet place and play the meditation. The soothing voice will guide you through a relaxing exercise.

One meditation is as short as 5 minutes and the longest is just 24 minutes. They’re a great way for busy caregivers to take much-needed mental breaks.
Choose a meditation >


8 self-compassion exercises
Take a look at these 8 exercises and see which ones call out to you. Each is a quick and simple way to show yourself some kindness.

1. How would you treat a friend?
This exercise helps you think about how you would talk to a friend who needs support and then helps you apply that same compassion to yourself.
Give this a try >

2. Take a self-compassion break
This exercise helps you pause and regroup when you’re feeling stressed.
Give this a try > (You can also try it as a voice-guided exercise)

3. Explore self-compassion through writing
This exercise helps you write a compassionate letter to yourself about something you’re struggling with.
Give this a try >

4. Role-play the criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer
In this exercise, you sit in 3 different chairs to help get in touch with different parts of yourself – the criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer. It might sound silly, but it does help you get a different perspective on how you’re feeling.
Give this a try >

5. Change critical self-talk
We often speak harshly to ourselves and blame ourselves unfairly. This exercise helps you notice when it’s happening and how to gradually change those thoughts.
Give this a try >

6. Self-compassion journal
A daily journal helps you process the difficult events of your day. When you have a few quiet moments, this gives you a chance to review the day’s events and write down anything you felt bad about, judged yourself for, or difficult experiences that caused you pain.
Give this a try >

7. Identify what you really want
Be aware of when you use self-criticism as a way to motivate you. This exercise helps you reframe the way you talk to yourself, more like how a supportive friend would encourage you.
Give this a try >

8. Take care of the caregiver
This exercise helps people who care for others take care of themselves too. It encourages you to find ways to recharge and meet your own needs.
Give this a try >


Next Step > Get all 15 self-compassion tools at Dr. Neff’s website


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: The CLR Group


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