Mental hygiene values ​​healthy self-compassion. We explain to you what is behind the term and how you can improve your mental healt.

Mental hygiene: This is what it brings you

It is often easier to have compassion for others than for yourself. Mental hygiene follows on from this: It is about strengthening compassion for yourself, as this allows you to master difficulties more easily and more motivated.

Old people who have great self-compassion are more likely to accept support. And HIV-infected people with high self-compassion find it easier to accept their illness. Similar results were also found in other groups of people, so in summary this means: People who have healthy mental hygiene have been shown to have a decrease in the rate of anxiety and depression. You can cope better with setbacks. A healthy mental hygiene presumably strengthens one’s own resilience .

The Origins

Kristin Neff, a professor of psychology at the University of Austin (USA), coined the term “mental hygiene” . The origin  of Kristin Neff’s thoughts lies in the ** book ” Lovingkindness ” by the meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. It describes how people who treat themselves kindly can sincerely love other people. This approach made sense to Kristin Neff while reading, so she wanted to explore self-compassion more deeply. She now offers a training course lasting several weeks with the title “Mindful Self-Compassion” (MSC). She has also summarized her results in her ** book “Self-Compassion: How We Reconciliate with Our Weaknesses and Become Our Best Friends”.

For Kristin Neff, self-compassion is no different from the compassion you can have for other people. Self-compassion is specifically about valuing your own humanity, limitation, and imperfection. 

Mental hygiene consists of three elements

According to Kristin Neff, there are  three elements that lead to healthy mental hygiene:

  1. Self-kindness
  2. Common humanity
  3. Mindfulness, how to deal with negative emotions and thoughts

The first element: self-friendliness

With this element you should learn to accept your construction sites, your failure and your imperfections . Treat yourself well in situations where you are reaching your limits. Don’t be angry with yourself, but show understanding of the outcome and your limitations. Be patient with yourself instead of criticizing yourself internally. For healthy mental hygiene, be nice, uplifting, and comforting to yourself.

  • Practical tip: Meet you in such moments as you meet a loved one: Watch out – figuratively speaking – even in the arm. Have understanding and love for you. Ask yourself what is good for you in this situation.

The second element: the shared humanity

With the second element, you put your imperfection or your failure into perspective. With healthy mental hygiene, you will realize that mistakes belong to us humans. It’s not just you who make mistakes, everyone makes them and no one is perfect. By putting your situation into perspective, you gain distance from an ego-centeredness that only revolves around itself.

  • Practical tip : If you are angry with yourself, make it clear to yourself that other people also make mistakes. You are no exception In addition, failures are part of our lives and bring us further.

The third element: mindfulness

The last element of mental hygiene is mindfulness. Be aware of your feelings without suppressing or exaggerating anything. For healthy mental hygiene, find an inner balance with the negative feelings you have within yourself.

  • Practical tip: Acknowledge your own emotions by verbalizing them: “This is not so easy now” or “It really hurts”. Non-violent communication helps you to verbalize your own feelings value-free.

Text source: Utopia

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