How you can use self-compassion to improve your well-being

Stress affects everyone. It comes in different forms and from different things but everyone deals with stress in one way or another. It can become overwhelming at times and start to affect how you feel and your well-being.

Some people, particularly students, might be more susceptible to experiencing stress. But regardless of who you are, if you’re experiencing stress it can be difficult and learning ways to cope are always helpful.

One way to try to lower stress is by practicing self-care through acts of self-compassion.

An article in Australian Psychologist has a great study about self-compassion and well-being in students. It that students who practice self-compassion are less likely to be negatively affected by stress from their studies and have higher well-being (Fong and Loi, 2016).

Distress in students is caused by higher levels of stress, negative affect, burnout and depression. Stress is experienced when someone thinks a particular stressor is beyond their ability to cope (Cohen, Kessler & Gordon, 1995) and this can lead to further feelings of defeat that contribute to negative affect - aversive moods like shame, guilt or fear caused by ones personal understanding (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988).

So how can you combat these negative feelings and conditions associated with stress?


Self-compassion is essentially the desire to lessen your own suffering. Some situations can cause us to become self-critical so it is important to remember that this does nothing but add to your own negative feelings. Some believe (Neff, 2003) that instead being compassionate to yourself can actually help someone benefit from a negative or stressful situation.

Here are 6 ways for you to work on building self-compassion:

  1. Be kind to yourself

  2. Avoid self-judgement

  3. Remember to treat yourself like a human being - we all make mistakes

  4. Be mindful and notice how things make you feel in a non-judgemental way

  5. Try not to get wrapped up into everything too much. Spare your emotions if you can and try to deal with the situation in a positive way.

  6. Believe in yourself. You’re doing whatever you’re doing for a reason, you just have to trust it.

Self-compassion helps you replace negative strategies self-judgement with positive ones like self-kindness (Neff, 2003). It seems according to Fong and Loi, 2016, that those who are more self-compassionate tend to have a higher sense of well-being and experience less stress.

So try to practice self-compassion in your own life. Even just changing how you think about things can have such a massive impact on your well-being.

If you already do practice self-compassion, let us know how!

Fong and Loi, The Mediating Role of Self-Compassion in Student Psychological Health. Australia Psychologist. 2016;431-441.

Neff, The Development and Validation of a Scale to Measure Self-Compassion. Psychology Press. Self and Identity, 2: 223–250, 2003. DOI: 10.1080/15298860390209035

Jennifer P