College of Education Self-Care

  • Participants at the self-care drum session
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Self-care and self-compassion

September 4, 2023

Dear College of Education Community,    

As we face the many challenges in our day to day lives, it is important to remind ourselves to take care of ourselves and one way to do this is to engage in self-compassion. Self-compassion means treating oneself with patience, kindness, and understanding. According to Dr. Kristin Neff, “developing our self-compassion is important because it is linked to reductions in anxiety, depression, stress, over-thinking, perfectionism, shame, and negative body image” (Neff, 2013). Additionally, research conducted by Juliana Breines and Serena Chen (2012) has shown that when we show ourselves compassion after a setback, we are more likely to take action towards improving in the future. Author Megan Sweet, Ed.D., in an article in Mindful Schools, discusses the importance of self-compassion for anyone working as an educator or support staff, and states “self-compassion helps us to feel better, rebound from our challenges, and fuels us to keep going down the path of self-improvement.”

How can you start showing yourself care and compassion, right now? Here are some suggestions from Dr. Sweet:

1. Pay attention to your inner voice. Notice your self-talk and ask: Would I say this to my best friend? If the answer is no (and it probably is) then start giving yourself a bit more love and curb the negative self-talk. It’s not helping!

2. Make a list of ten things that bring you joy. Examples include exercise, reading a book, or watching a favorite TV show. Try to fit at least one of these activities into your life consistently.

3. Prioritize how you spend your time. Make a list of all of the things you are doing each week. Break them into Must-Do and May-Do categories. See if you can replace some of those May-Do’s with things from your joy list.

4. Take a break. Educators are notorious for working all-the-time. The problem is, the work never ends unless you choose to step away. If you are not refreshed, you are not working at your best anyway, so start reclaiming some of those nights and weekends.

5. Start a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness means being present in the moment, and meditation is a great mindfulness tool. Just meditating 10 minutes a day will make a significant difference in how you feel. Don’t have 10 minutes in a row? That’s okay, break it into two 5-minute blocks, do some conscious breathing on your walk to and from your car, breathe slowly and deeply at red lights. Notice how good it feels to take even one conscious breath.

6. You can also try these guided mindfulness practices:

Guided 12-minute Practice for Self-Kindness:

Guided 12-minute Practice for Stress:

To read more go to

Breines, J. & Chen, S. (2012). “Self-compassion increases self-improvement motivation.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 38(9) 1133–1143.

Neff, K. (2013). “Resilience and self-compassion” [lecture]. Empathy and Compassion in Society. Retrieved June 25, 2018.

For a list of other self-care options, you can also go to our COE self-care website for resources for faculty, staff, students, and the community at

Everyone deserves to give themselves self-compassion!