Practicing Self-Compassion Can Boost Your Mental Health

New research looks into how mindfulness and compassion-focused therapy can help treat depression, anxiety, and stress.

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Most American adults will experience stress, anxiety or depression at some point in their lives. Therapies that teach mindfulness and self-compassion may provide some relief. A new study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, looks at whether focusing on self-compassion may be as effective as a mindfulness-based therapy for improving mental health.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) are two of the most widely used clinical approaches for treating depression, anxiety, and stress. The first, MBCT, is based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and includes meditation, breath work, yoga, body scans, and practices to explore thoughts and increase mindfulness. On the other hand, CFT focuses on building compassion by incorporating practices for compassion and self-compassion, along with mindfulness exercises. 

Since both therapies are widely used, researchers wanted to learn whether CFT’s explicit instruction in compassion and self-compassion might yield different results for people experiencing depression, anxiety and stress compared to a mindfulness-based approach alone—although the researchers noted that nonjudgmental acceptance, which is part of the most widely-adopted definition of mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “can be taken as indicating that compassion toward self and others and…