According to a new study, being kind to yourself can help your overall health and wellbeing.
The study, carried out by researchers from Oxford and Exeter Universities, explored if there was a connection between having kind thoughts and a person’s mental health.
Among other things, the study found that kindness helps with stress and boosts the immune system.
Here are more details about the study, and its findings.
The study, published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal, involved 135 healthy University of Exeter students separated into five groups.
Both before and after the activities, the participants were asked about their feelings and their heart rate and sweat response were measured.
Each group was given a different set of audio instructions (each eleven-minute long) – the instructions for two of the groups encouraged them to be kind towards themselves, while the other three groups instructions’ encouraged their critical inner voice.
The two groups whose instructions encouraged them to practice being kind to themselves reported:
- lower heart rates (by two to three beats per minute, on average)
- less sweating
- variation in the length of time between heartbeats (which is a healthy sign of a heart that can respond better to changes and different situations)
- feeling more self-compassion
- feeling more connected with others
- feeling more relaxed
Conversely, the groups whose audio instructions encouraged their critical inner voice reported:
- increased heart rates
- more sweating
- feeling more anxious
These findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing – Dr Hans Kirschner
Now that you know self-compassion is good for you, how do you get started? We’ve got you covered.
Four minutes to getting started with self-compassion
In case you are not familiar with the practice of self-compassion or are interested in learning more about self-compassion, check out this small video.
It’s only four minutes long and has a great tip on how you can get started with being more compassionate towards yourself.
As the research demonstrated, self-compassion exercises positively impact both your mental and physical health.
We all have that nagging little voice in our heads, and it is normal to be more critical of yourself than others, so this research is a good step to recognising how doing the opposite has a tangible impact on our health and wellbeing.
A good reason to make self-compassion a habit.
Actually, a few good reasons to make it a regular practice.
What are your thoughts on being kind to yourself? Let us know in the comments what you think and if you have any additional tips.
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Source: University of Exeter
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