Caring for Yourself

Dedicated to our Healthcare Heroes!

Why do healthcare workers need compassion?

As healthcare workers, you face difficulties, losses and pain. Compassion provides you with the strength to move towards pain, with acceptance and warmth.

Self-compassion is an important skill to learn

This is especially essential for caregivers to recharge your batteries so that you have enough energy to give to others.

Self-compassion is similar to being a good friend to yourself:

  • Accepting of who we are
  • Believe that we are good enough
  • Understanding towards our failures and mistakes

What is self-compassion?

Mindfulness ​Connectedness ​Self-kindness
  • Recognising when we are stressed
  • Being open to such experiences
  • We are not alone
  • Everyone makes mistakes and experiences difficulties at times
  • Treating ourselves with care and understanding, rather than being critical
  • Actively soothing and comforting oneself

Benefits of self-compassion

What you can do to increase self-compassion

​1. Breathe 2. ​Welcome yourself 3. ​Imagine ​4. Repeat
  • Inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts
  • Focus on keeping your out-breath smooth

​Welcome yourself like you would to a close friend e.g. bring a half-smile to your face and use a friendly tone like, "Good morning, James"

Imagine being your best compassionate self:
  • How would you talk?
  • How would you respond to others?
  • How would you act?
  • How would you feel?

Keep practising - Once every 3 days to once every 2 days, and finally, daily.


Take a self-compassion break

Think of a situation in your life that is difficult for you, but not overwhelmingly difficult, especially if you are new to this exercise.

Call the situation to mind and see if you find the discomfort in your body.Where do you feel it the most? Make contact with the sensations as they arise in your body.

Then slowly say these words to yourself:

1) "This is a moment of suffering." ​2) "Suffering is part of living." ​3) "May I be kind to myself."


  • "This hurts."
  • "This is stressful."


  • "I'm not alone. Others are just like me."
  • "We all struggle"


  • "May I accept myself as I am."
  • "May I give myself what I need."

Audio track for the above can be found here.

Give yourself the supportive touch

The Hand-on-Heart technique    

1. When you notice you’re under stress, take 2-3 deep breaths   

2. Gently place your hand over your heart, feeling the gentle pressure and warmth of your hand

3. If you wish, place both hands on your chest, noticing the difference between one and two hands

​4. Feel the touch of your hand on your chest. You can also make small circles with your hand on your chest

5. Feel the natural rising and falling of your chest as you breathe in and out    

6. Continue for as long as you like

Alternatives: Place hand on your cheek, cradle your face in your hands, crossing your arms and giving yourself a gentle squeeze, or place your hand on your abdomen   

Try putting your hand on your body during difficult periods several times a day for at least a week.

Write a kind letter to yourself

From yourself to a friend:

Write a letter as if you were talking to a dearly loved friend who was struggling with the same concern that you are. What words of compassion and support would you offer? Then go back and read the letter, applying the words to yourself.

Or from your compassionate self to yourself:  

Write a letter from the perspective of your own compassionate self. This part of you would like to help you because he or she cares deeply about you. The intention behind your compassionate self is “I love you and I don’t want you to suffer.” Put the letter away and read it to yourself later on.

It's not just healthcare workers, caregivers should also learn self compassion.

For caregivers, it is especially important to engage in “on the job” self-care. Strategies you can try as a caregiver include:

  1. Giving yourself soothing words of support (E.g., “I know this is hard right now, and it’s only natural you’re feeling so stressed. I’m here for you.)   
  2. Self-compassion break   
  3. Supportive touch

Nurture yourself as you care for and nurture others!

“Caring for others requires caring for oneself.” - Dalai Lama


Mobile app –Stop, breathe & think

  • Examples of audio tracks: Hand to heart, Being kind to your body, Compassionate body scan, Self Compassion

Materials adapted from multiple sources, including:

Up next: Values and Resilience

Ref : L20