Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, and Empathy Among Health Care Professionals: A Review of the Literature

Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy

Volume 20, 2014 – Issue 3

 

The relationship between mindfulness and self-compassion is explored in the health care literature, with a corollary emphasis on reducing stress in health care workers and providing compassionate patient care. Health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to stress overload and compassion fatigue due to an emotionally exhausting environment. Compassion fatigue among caregivers in turn has been associated with less effective delivery of care. Having compassion for others entails self-compassion. In Kristin Neff’s research, self-compassion includes self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness. Both mindfulness and self-compassion involve promoting an attitude of curiosity and nonjudgment towards one’s experiences. Research suggests that mindfulness interventions, particularly those with an added lovingkindness component, have the potential to increase self-compassion among health care workers. Enhancing focus on developing self-compassion using MBSR and other mindfulness interventions for health care workers holds promise for reducing perceived stress and increasing effectiveness of clinical care.
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Greater strengths of character and recovery from illness

The Journal of Positive Psychology

Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice

Volume 1, 2006 – Issue 1

How are character strengths related to recovery? A retrospective web-based study of 2087 adults found small but reliable associations between a history of physical illness and the character strengths of appreciation of beauty, bravery, curiosity, fairness, forgiveness, gratitude, humor, kindness, love of learning, and spirituality. A history of psychological disorder and the character strengths of appreciation of beauty, creativity, curiosity, gratitude, and love of learning were also associated. A history of problems was linked to decreased life satisfaction, but only among those who had not recovered. In the case of physical illness, less of a toll on life satisfaction was found among those with the character strengths of bravery, kindness, and humor, and in the case of psychological disorder, less of a toll on life satisfaction was found among those with the character strengths of appreciation of beauty and love of learning. We suggest that recovery from illness and disorder may benefit character.

Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction

The Journal of Positive Psychology

Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice

Volume 2, 2007 – Issue 3

Why are certain character strengths more associated with life satisfaction than others? A sample of US adults (N = 12,439) completed online surveys in English measuring character strengths, orientations to happiness (engagement, pleasure, and meaning), and life satisfaction, and a sample of Swiss adults (N = 445) completed paper-and-pencil versions of the same surveys in German. In both samples, the character strengths most highly linked to life satisfaction included love, hope, curiosity, and zest. Gratitude was among the most robust predictors of life satisfaction in the US sample, whereas perseverance was among the most robust predictors in the Swiss sample. In both samples, the strengths of character most associated with life satisfaction were associated with orientations to pleasure, to engagement, and to meaning, implying that the most fulfilling character strengths are those that make possible a full life.