Can something as simple as kindness lower Anxiety?

By Md Shahzad Hassan

March 18, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Anxiety is a common complaint in modern life. It’s not only unpleasant, but can have serious health consequences. Anxiety is correlated with: heart disease, stomach problems, panic attacks, and other health related issues. It makes sense to lower your anxiety if possible.
You might have tried some ways to reduce your anxiety such as exercise, lowering your stress level, or medication. But researchers like Kristin Neff, PhD at University of Texas in Austin, are working on another potential solution. They have found that people who have high levels of “self-compassion” have lower levels of anxiety.

What is Self-compassion?

Having compassion means that you recognize when others are suffering and you treat them with kindness and offer help. Self-compassion takes this same idea and turns it inward. When you are suffering, you can show yourself kindness. This is self-compassion. Think about the last time something went wrong for you. What was your response? Did you mercilessly judge and criticize yourself? Did you focus on your inadequacies and shortcomings? Did your thoughts go around and around, beating up on yourself? This negative rumination is the opposite of self-compassion and self-kindness. If you can learn to respond to your own suffering with kindness, you are practicing self-compassion and will benefit from the anxiety lowering effects. Neff says, ”With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.” The great news is that you don’t need a prescription or any special skill to practice self-compassion. All you need to do is to think about how you would treat a friend, and then turn that kindness in towards yourself.

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