self love

Self-Compassion in a Nutshell

by Susanne North


Self-Compassion is defined as ‘being kind to yourself in the midst of suffering.

It involves treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who is having a hard time. It is a practice that helps us to learn to be a good friend to ourselves when we need it most. Typically, we are very harsh, highly critical and judgmental with ourselves. We often treat ourselves like an enemy rather than an inner ally.  There are three core elements that we bring to bear when we are in pain:

Self-kindness: Instead of beating ourselves up, put a supportive arm around yourself. Care for yourself as you would care for others. Instead of berating ourselves for being inadequate, we offer ourselves warmth, kindness and acceptance. 

Common humanity: Recognising that all human beings are flawed works-in-progress, that everyone fails, makes mistakes and experiences hardship in life. Pain is part of our shared human experience. We are not alone. Others experience the same challenges. 

Mindfulness: To be self-compassionate, we need to bring awareness to our present experience. It allows us to face the truth of our experience, even when it is painful. Mindfulness allows us to be with the pain and respond with care and kindness. It also prevents us from becoming too caught up in our negative thoughts and ruminations. Often we do not acknowledge the pain we are in. We need the presence of mind to respond in a new way. 

Self Compassion Strategies – Intentional Self Care – Developing Love & Kindness to self

In times of suffering, the most important question to ask yourself is: “What do I need right now?”

A sense of belonging, love, protection, validation, acceptance, connection, being heard? 

The Soften Soothe Allow Method developed by Dr Kristin Neff (leading Researcher of Self-Compassion) is a powerful and effective way to develop self-compassion:


      • Hand over your heart or elsewhere. Feel your body breathe.
      • Locate. Where do we feel the difficult emotion? 
      • Put your hand on this space with warmth and kindness as if it was a child.
      • Just a gentle touch.
      • Take a moment and allow your heart to open gently, to become receptive – like a flower opening in the warm sun. 
      • Imagine warmth and kindness flowing through your hand into your body. 
      • We are not trying to change the unpleasant feeling. We are just accepting it for what is. 
      • Allow yourself to be – and hold the sensation in a tender way.


        • Imagine yourself as a little child. 

      Question 1: What do I truly need?

        • To do this, try to sense what the wounded, frightened or hurting place inside you most needs, and then offer some gesture of active care that might address this need. Does it need a message of reassurance? Of forgiveness? Of companionship?  Of love? 
        • Experiment and see which intentional gesture of kindness most helps to comfort, soften or open your heart. 

      Question 2: What do I need to hear? 

          • Are there some comforting words that you might want to hear?
          • What arises for you? It might be the mental whisper, I’m here with you. I’m sorry, and I love you. I love you, and I’m listening. It’s not your fault.

        Question 3: What do I need to hear from others?

            • What words do I long to hear because, as a person?
            • What words would you like to have whispered in your ear? What comes up for you?

            Use your imagination.

              • A word/phrase that soothes you.
              • You can reframe your words. 
              • I love you becomes – “May I love myself just as I am”. “May I be kind to myself.” “May I be at peace.” “May I forgive myself.”
              • Find the right words that work for you. It is like a poetic and soulful journey. 

            When it feels too difficult to offer yourself love, bring to mind a special and trusted family member, friend, pet, a special place or a greater spiritual being.  Imagine being held by this person and imagine that being’s love and wisdom flowing into you. 


            Imagine a friend who is struggling. 

            What would you say to a friend? Or a child?

            Are there any phrases you may wish to use

            Evoke goodwill. Bring a warm and kind attitude to it.

            “May I be healthy. May I feel loved. May I experience love.” 

            Trust in your goodness. 

            In addition to a whispered message of care, many people find healing by gently placing a hand on the heart or cheek; or by envisioning being bathed in or embraced by warm, radiant light.


                • Make room for the discomfort. 
                • There is no need to make it go away or fix it. 
                • Allow yourself to be just as you are. 
                • Connect to humanity. 

              Use these practices, the words/mantras/phrases that speak to you personally throughout your day or when difficulties arise.

              Feel them. How do they take up your space? 

              Play around with them. Be vulnerable, open. Fill your being.

              Further Resources:

                To check your level of self-compassion:To find out more about the research/self-compassion exercises/meditations by pioneer Dr Kristin Neff 

                Self-Compassion Homepage

                Dr Gary Leong – Busting out of obesity – forming new habits at home


                Eating at home as a family should be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for most families. In reality, many parents dread the evening mealtime, finding it a time filled with stress, arguments and tension. So, don’t worry, you are not alone.

                With this in mind, I have developed simple methods that promise to transform your family’s mealtime. These three simple steps together will help your family develop positive habits around food and eating at home.

                Here are three ways you can encourage your family to eat together more.

                Grow your own food

                It can be as simple as starting a veggie patch at home, or even just planting some seeds in pots. Explore growing some fun foods such as onions, carrots, and celery by growing them from end cuts. To make things fun and interesting for the kids, you can plant veggies that your family might not usually eat, your children’s favourite veggies and ones that are a little unique or vibrantly coloured like purple carrots.

                Come to the table ready to talk

                Whether it’s the topic of the day or reporting on your highlights or low-points of the day, you can discuss them as a family. This is a great way to discover new interests, identify issues, solve smaller problems, and work out plans for the weekend. Celebrate wins, and identify early any upcoming challenges by establishing a regular habit of sharing over a meal.

                This also helps everyone be ready for eating out in restaurants, or when you are visiting other families. The additional bonus of this is that you all learn to have respectful and enjoyable conversations across generational boundaries.

                When reminiscing about life as a child or teenager, many people fondly remember family meal times as the best part of the day, as it was the time when they had their parents’ attention.

                That’s why it’s important to set boundaries around mealtimes. Mealtimes should mean manners and a device-free environment.

                Encourage help with the meal preparation

                From writing the weekly shopping list and visiting the supermarket, to actually cooking the meal, involve the whole family in the preparation process. This includes taking turns to prepare parts of or even the entire meal. Whoever is in charge should be encouraged to take ownership of what is being cooked when it is their turn.

                Alternatively, make mealtime a learning experience. From learning how to peel potatoes, to preparing a salad, right up to making an omelette and setting the table properly, children love to be involved, stimulated and learning.

                I’ve just had a baby…When can I get back to running?

                Well firstly congratulations on the new addition to your life – a brand-new human to love and take care of – such an awesome gift!! And now the dust is settling, one of the questions that new mums tend to ask is when can I safely get moving again?

                For some, if you were running prior to having your baby you may be asking – when can I get back running? Or for others, you might be considering running to help with return to fitness – it’s an easy, time efficient exercise that can be of benefit for so many different reasons. 

                As a physiotherapist I am often asked about the criteria for returning to exercise after giving birth – a great question considering your body has been through a lot producing this brand-new human. And it’s important that you safely return to exercise whilst taking care of your body and avoiding injury.

                I get it, your desire for that rush of endorphins, fresh oxygen pumping through your veins, the wind in your hair, chasing some bliss that affirms mind, body and spirit.

                Here we will specifically address a return to running guide. The initial stages of return are a good guide for a return to exercise postpartum, so even if you are not a runner this may give you some tips to get you on your way.

                As with most things in life, every individual has had a different experience with giving birth, and recovery will differ from mum to mum. We will offer some helpful tips for you, but if you are unsure at all about your individual case then it’s advisable to see a physiotherapist to be assessed. 

                The Research

                In March 2019 a group of physiotherapists in the UK published the fantastic Returning To Running Postnatal Guidelines (Emma Brockwell, Grainne Donnelly, Tom Goom). This was published due to the lack of guidance available for women postpartum on how to manage their return to running. The guidelines are evidence-based and therefore invaluable advice for new mums wishing to get back to running safely and with a smile on your face. 

                So, let’s share some of their great nuggets of advice!!

                Where do you start?

                Setting your expectations
                • Low impact exercise timeline in the first 3 months postpartum (Let’s get that core working and some gentle cardio) 
                • Return to running between 3-6 months in the absence of any pelvic floor dysfunction (Start building up some cardio and strength)
                • Planned gradual progression of return to running to reduce risk of injury (Planning for success)

                The key thing to remember after pregnancy and delivery is that your body needs time to heal and regain strength – specifically in the abdominals and pelvic floor. So be kind and listen to your body. A slow gradual return now, will mean longer, happier training without injury or disappointment!!

                The Guidelines

                The guidelines recommend that all women, regardless of delivery method should seek out a “Pelvic Health Assessment” at 6 weeks postpartum. This can be carried out by a physiotherapist with a specialist interest in women’s health. It is a check-up to make sure your body is recovering as it should and to give you advice and support about the next best steps.

                They also recommend having a “Load and Impact Management Assessment” to help with running load guidance and strength for running including having a baseline “Strength Test” done. 

                So, what is “low impact exercise”?

                Before you strap on those running shoes it’s important to do the groundwork. The guidelines lay out a recommendation roadmap for return to running. It’s important to be directed by your physiotherapist in order to avoid injury and ensure success.

                The experts have recommended a 12-week guide on how you can safely get back to running.

                Week 0 to 2 
                • Pelvic floor muscle exercises targeting strength and endurance functions. 
                • Basic core exercises e.g., pelvic tilt, bent knee drop out, side lying abduction.
                • Walking. 
                Week 2 to 4 
                • Progress walking/pelvic floor muscle/core rehab. 
                • Consider the introduction of squats, lunges and bridging. These movements mimic new day-to-day life as a mother. 
                Week 4 to 6
                • Introduce low impact exercise e.g. static cycling or cross-trainer, being mindful of individual postnatal recovery and mode of delivery.
                • If cycling, ensure you are comfortable sitting on a saddle. 
                Week 6 to 8
                • Scar mobilisation (for either c-section or perineal scar). 
                • Power-walking. 
                • Increased duration/intensity of low impact exercise. 
                • Deadlift techniques beginning at light weights, no more than the weight of the baby in a car seat (15kg) with gradual load progression e.g. barbell only with no weight – mimics new daily life!!
                • Resistance work during core and lower limb rehab. 
                 Weeks 8 to 12 
                • Introduce swimming – wound-dependant. 
                • Spin cycling – again if the saddle is comfy.
                Week 12 and beyond 
                • Start small at an easy pace with running/jogging – 1-2 mins and include walking breaks.
                • Build training volume prior to intensity. 
                • Follow guidance from an app like Couch to 5km or engage with a local running coach. 
                • Monitor that there are no symptoms of pain, heaviness, or continence issues prior to or during run.
                • NOTE: Running with a buggy should only be considered at 6-9 months to protect the neck and spine of the baby.

                Additional things to consider are weight, fitness, breathing, psychological impact, diastasis screening, breastfeeding, supportive clothing, and that all-important factor – getting enough SLEEP. Sleep is essential for healing so try and make it part of your routine.

                Look at a holistic approach to your return to running to improve your overall experience for the better. 

                The great thing is that at human repair shop our physiotherapists can talk you through your post natal journey and provide individual guidance and advice to help your return to running be a raging success! Remember to engage with us or a health professional if you are unsure about what you should be doing and what is right and safe for you. Happy Running!!

                At human repair shop we not only cover return to running advice post natal but cater for all you pre and post natal queries or needs. Find us on, or on socials on Facebook @humanrepairshop or Instagram @human_repair_shop.