So you’ve started taking walks, journaling — even doing mindful meditation as a way to improve your mental well-being. But what about being kind to yourself? Sure, extending kindness to others can be easy. But cultivating compassion for ourselves? Not so much.

Yet without self-directed empathy, our deepest fears and worries can take over, activating our worst inner-critics.

One way to quiet these negative thoughts is to practice self-compassion. Psychologist and compassion researcher, Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as “honor[ing] and accept[ing] our humanness,” similar to the way we accept our friends and loved ones.

You can incorporate self-compassion exercises into your meditation or during your time of self-reflection.

Tips for incorporating self-compassion into your routine

Here’s one way to incorporate self-compassion into your well-being repertoire:

  1. Think of something that’s stressing you out.
  2. Notice the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations that arise as you ponder this distress.
  3. Acknowledge your suffering.
  4. Place your hand on your heart and extend loving kindness by saying:
  • May I give myself the compassion I need.
  • May I learn to accept myself as I am.
  • May I forgive myself.
  • May I be strong.
  • May I be patient.

You can also find other self-compassion exercises here.

Juli Fraga is a licensed psychologist based in San Francisco, California. She graduated with a PsyD from University of Northern Colorado and attended a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley. Passionate about women’s health, she approaches all her sessions with warmth, honesty, and compassion. See what she’s up to on Twitter.