Practice Compassion—Be Kind for Your Mind

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Every May, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week reminds us of the ways we can all help to nurture positive mental health in ourselves and others. The 2024 theme is #CompassionConnects, focusing on kindness and empathy as fundamental aspects of our humanity. With this in mind, we’re exploring the meaning of compassion, how it can manifest—toward others and through self-compassion—and how it contributes to our mental well-being.

Empathy and Compassion, Explained

You’ve likely heard the terms ‘compassion’ and ‘empathy’ used interchangeably, but there’s actually an important distinction between them. While empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, compassion takes it a step further by combining empathy with the desire to act. That is, it makes you want to help out however you can! The drive to act with kindness and care is what makes all the difference.

Small Acts of Kindness, Big Results

The good news is it takes just a little effort to lead with kindness. Whether it’s sharing a smile or holding the door for a stranger, you never know how much a small act of kindness can mean to the person receiving it. These actions help foster social connection, which is incredibly important for our well-being—especially with loneliness and feelings of anxiety and depression increasing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue to discover and adjust to the impacts of the pandemic, now more than ever, a little bit of kindness can go a long way.

And that goes for you, too! Practicing self-compassion is a wonderful way to nourish your own mental health. Think about how you act toward yourself when you make a mistake, versus how you’d react if a friend acted that way toward themselves. We tend to be much more critical with ourselves, often through self-talk (that little voice inside our heads). The next time that little voice is acting up, focus on compassionate self-talk, and watch how even small changes can lead to big improvements in how you feel.

Compassion: Find Your Kind

There are countless reasons to be compassionate, whether you’re guided by spirituality or religion, or you find a sense of altruism elsewhere. Your catalyst for kindness is far less important than the resulting actions, whatever they may be! Finding ways to positively connect with others each day is truly a mental wellness win-win.

That said, it’s hard to be thoughtful of those around you if you’re struggling. Whether you could use some support to work through issues or some guidance discovering your self-compassion—our mental health counselling can help. We’re here whenever you’re ready to reach out.

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