Skip to main content

Self-Compassion Exercises Show Physical, Psychological Benefits

Taking some time to think kind thoughts about yourself and loved ones has psychological and physical benefits, according to a new U.K. study.

Investigators at the Universities of Exeter and Oxford discovered taking part in self-compassion exercises can ease the body’s threat response, lowering heart rate and bolstering the immune system.

“Previous research has found that self-compassion was related to higher levels of well-being and better mental health, but we didn’t know why,” said researcher Dr. Anke Karl.

“Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments. By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing.

The study appears in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

The study was conducted at Exeter by Karl and Dr. Hans Kirschner. Kirschner said the findings suggest 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.

The researchers said the threat system comprises increased heart rate and sweating, release of the stress hormone cortisol and over-activity of the amygdala, an integral part of the brain’s emotional network. And a persistent threat response  can impair the immune system.

In the new study 135 healthy University of Exeter students were divided into five groups. Members of each group heard a different set of audio instructions. Researchers then took physical measurements of heart rate and sweat response, and asked participants to report how they were feeling.

Participants were asked questions on how safe they felt, how likely they were to be kind to themselves and how connected they felt to others.

The two groups whose instructions encouraged them to be kind to themselves not only reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others, but also showed a bodily response consistent with feelings of relaxation and safety.

Their heart rates dropped and heart rate variability improved, a healthy sign of a heart that can respond flexibly to situations. They also showed lower sweat response.

Meanwhile, instructions that induced a critical inner voice led to an increased heart rate and a higher sweat response, consistent with feelings of threat and distress.

The recordings that encouraged self-compassion were a “compassionate body scan” in which people were guided to attend to bodily sensations with an attitude of interest and calmness; and a “self-focused loving kindness exercise” in which they directed kindness and soothing thoughts to a loved one and themselves.

The three other groups listened to recordings designed to induce a critical inner voice, put them into a “positive but competitive and self-enhancing mode,” or an emotionally neutral shopping scenario.

All the audio recordings were 11 minutes long.

While people in both the self-compassion and positive but competitive groups reported greater self-compassion and decreased self-criticism, only the self-compassion groups showed the positive bodily response.

Co-author Willem Kuyken, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford, said: “These findings help us to further understand some of our clinical trials research findings, where we show that individuals with recurrent depression benefit particularly from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy when they learn to become more self-compassionate.

“My sense is that for people prone to depression, meeting their negative thoughts and feelings with compassion is a radically different way.”

The researchers stressed that the study was conducted in healthy people, so their findings do not mean that people with depression would experience the same improvements from one-off exercises.

Moreover, they did not investigate another important feature of self-compassion, the ability to directly repair mood or distress. Further research is necessary to address these two open points.

Source: University of Exeter



from Psych Central News http://bit.ly/2E1tadg
via IFTTT

Become a patron of The Carlisle Wellness Network. Show everyone that you think this service is worth at least a buck. Go to; https://www.patreon.com/carlislewellness and pledge one dollar per month and help improve the resources it takes to gather the articles you see here as well as create fresh content including interviews an podcasts. We only need one dollar per month from all of our patrons to give The Carlisle Wellness Network a bright furture in the health and wellness social media ecosystem.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Working Remotely Is Not Necessarily Stress-Free

Many believe that working from home or remotely can foster freedom and stress-free job satisfaction, and that everyone wants  more work autonomy. A new study from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, says “Not so fast.” In the study, researchers examined the impact of remote work on employee well-being. Their findings suggest that a variety of factors can undermine or accent the employee benefits of working off-site. Accordingly, researchers developed new strategies to help managers provide remote-work opportunities that are valuable to the employee and the company. “Any organization, regardless of the extent to which people work remotely, needs to consider well-being of their employees as they implement more flexible working practices,” the researchers wrote. The study appears in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology . In the review, a total of 403 working adults were surveyed for the two studies that made up the research, said lead author Sara Perry, Ph.D. Re

Today’s Popular Music is More Angry, Sad and Less Joyful

Today’s popular music is noticeably different from the popular songs of the 1960s and 1970s. Now a new study reveals that it’s not just the music itself that is different; today’s music consumers seem to prefer songs that express darker emotions in both lyric and tone. The findings, published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies , show that the expression of anger and sadness in popular music has increased gradually over time, while the expression of joy has declined. Using quantitative analytics, researchers from Lawrence Technological University in Michigan studied changes in popular music lyrics throughout the last seven decades, from the 1950s to 2016. Data scientists Kathleen Napier and Dr. Lior Shamir analyzed the lyrics of more than 6,000 songs found on the Billboard Hot 100, a list of the most popular songs of each year. In the past, songs were ranked primarily by record sales, radio broadcasting, and jukebox plays, but in more recent years, popularity is based on several

I Pretend that Fictional Characters Are Real & Talk to Myself as Them

I’ve always loved to play pretend. But now that I’m a teenager, instead of outgrowing it, it’s gotten worse. Now I’ve gotten to the point where it’s an obsession, and I spend more time with my imaginary friends then with real people. I pretend that my favorite characters from movies and TV shows are real, and I talk to myself, both as myself and the character. I have long discussions with myself. I also pretend that they are with me everywhere I go–to the supermarket, to my cousin’s house. I pretend that they’re with me, no matter what I do. Lately, I’ve also been doing something that’s hard to explain: I pretend to be two people (usually myself and my mother, or a cousin, or a made-up person) and have a pretend to have a conversation with them. I pretend that the fiction character is watching me and my mother/cousin/other. Usually, those scenarios involve either a verbal fight, or joking. I’m really concerned because I know this is abnormal and I’m not living a normal life. I’m worri