Ep10. Making the case for self-compassion in nurse education. A Conversation with Jasna Schwind

Posted January 9, 2023

Show Notes —

In today’s episode, I talk to Jasna Schwind, professor of nursing at the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing in Toronto about self-compassion in nurse education. Jasna is an RN and nurse educator who is interested in the humanness of care and ways to enhance nurse student learning via mindfulness and compassion.

If you’re interested in self-compassion, this episode is for you! Nathan even leads a short self-compassion exercise at the end of the episode so keep listening!

In this conversation we cover the following topics:

-Jasna’s background and when she started incorporating mindfulness into her teaching with nursing students.

-Why it’s important to address the psychological needs of nursing students so that they can effectively absorb and use the knowledge they are gaining through formal study.

-What self-compassion is, and how it can be developed.

-How self-compassion can help motivate students, soften and reduce perfectionism, and help them be effective leaders.

-The importance of compassionate care in nursing, and how one’s ability to be self-compassionate affects compassion toward patients.

-Jasna’s take on how and why self-compassion should be integrated into both nursing curricula and also permeated throughout nurse educator leadership.

-A self-compassion exercise led by Nathan that will help listeners get a feel for what it’s like to experience this important method of emotional regulation.

If you’d like to find further self-compassion tools then visit the Nurse Wellbeing Mission youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC80H5IU9un8mX_pLgf2VEWw

You can also join our free Facebook community where you’ll get access to other nurses interested in self-care and self-compassion, and receive great, free resources from us. Join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nursewellbeingmission

To find out more about Jasna’s work then visit her academic profile here: https://www.torontomu.ca/nursing/about/people/faculty/jasna-schwind/

Or her website here: https://theartofexperience.ca/

Transcription —


Jasna Schwind, Nathan Illman

Nathan Illman 00:00

Welcome to another episode of the Nurse Wellbeing mission Podcast. I’m really excited about my guest today, I’m always excited about my guests. Let’s face it, but today’s discussion is around a topic that is of personal and professional interest to me, we’re going to be talking about self-compassion. And I’m talking to Jasna Schwind, who is a professor of nursing in Canada. She’s a wonderful person. She’s really inspirational. She was a pioneer in introducing mindful self-compassion practices with her nursing students some 20 years ago, where she works. And today we talk about her interest in using mindfulness and compassion in nursing, education, and nursing in general. And we talked about a recent review article that she and some co-authors wrote that recommends that mindfulness and self-compassion are integrated into the nursing curriculum. In general, we’ve got a real treat for you in this episode, towards the end, I will be running a self-compassion exercise. And that’s really to make it a little bit more tangible. For listeners who’ve never really experienced self-compassion or self-compassion exercises. I wanted to demonstrate or ask you to participate and experience it for yourself. So Jasna very kindly participates and reflects on the self-compassion exercise. So stay tuned for that. This episode will be helpful for anyone interested to find out a little bit more about what self-compassion is, and how it can be beneficial for nurses or nursing students. And for people interested in incorporating self-compassion, perhaps into their day-to-day lives, or people working in hospitals or nurse educators, and people working in universities who are interested to incorporate self-compassion training into their students’ nursing curricula. So without further ado, I bring you my guest today Jasna Schwind.

Nathan Illman 01:59

Welcome to the nurse wellbeing mission podcast hosted by me, Nathan Illman. This is the place where nurses’ and midwives’ well-being is at the top of the agenda. Each episode aims to help nurses and midwives around the world flourish through informative, inspiring, and practical content and conversations.

Nathan Illman 02:23

So Jasna, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you and I’m really excited about this conversation.

Jasna Schwind 02:30

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. And thank you for inviting me.

Nathan Illman 02:33

So it was quite hard for me to actually kind of get one particular focus to talk to you about today because there are so many things that I would love to talk to you about. But for our listeners, why don’t you start by introducing yourself and where you work? And just a little bit about your professional background?

Jasna Schwind 02:50

Certainly. So my name is Jasna Schwind. I am an associate professor in the Daphne Cockrell School of Nursing at the Toronto Metropolitan University in Toronto, Canada. In terms of research, I’m a narrative inquirer, I’m interested in human experience and the stories of such experiences, for example, patients’ experience of illness or a student’s experience of engagement and learning, Nurse patient relationships, how they engage in relational care as an educator. And that’s very much a passion of mine as well. I teach qualitative research, knowledge development in nursing, and advanced therapeutic communication from an interprofessional perspective. So I’ve worked with nursing students at the undergraduate level and graduate levels, as well as other professions. So students from social work, nutrition, Child and Youth Care Early Childhood Studies, and so on.

Nathan Illman 03:52

Fantastic. Thanks. And would you mind just telling us a little bit about your current research interests? So we’re going to talk, we’re going to focus on a particular paper that you published with some co-authors in the past few years. But why don’t you just give us a little bit of an outline of what you’re currently excited about and what you’re currently researching?

Jasna Schwind 04:12

So I might just give you a bit of a trajectory. So my earlier research really focused on like I say, the stories of experience, and that moved into looking at students’ experience of education, how do they actually engage in teaching and learning contexts? Because the purpose of education and I really call that teaching learning because it makes it more for me more organic and authentic, is how do students engage? What is their experience of that engagement? And so to me, as a teacher, as an educator, it’s not good enough just for me to tell the knowledge, how do I engage students, so they want to learn. So I do use a lot many ways, creative ways of doing. Teaching and Learning had to adapt to the virtual learning that we were engaged in over the last two years. But the one for the purposes of our conversation today in terms of self-compassion, and mindfulness, I start all of my classes with a brief mindful, breathing activity. It’s about four minutes. And then I end each class with loving-kindness meditation, again, another four minutes. At first, I was trepidatious, about using this because I started using it about a couple of decades ago. And at that time, it wasn’t as common awareness and knowledge in the general public, so I felt a bit uncomfortable, but I thought I’d give it a try. I invited anonymous feedback from students halfway through and was very positive. So that moved me then to look at how mindful presence and how being with others may impact teaching and learning. So when we decrease our anxiety, when we are present in the moment with one another, we are more eight more able to take the information in connection with what we already know and expand our knowledge. And so that’s where my research then moved from experiences of saying illness, which was my original work, to looking at the experience of education, and then more specifically, looking at how mindfulness and mindful practices impact educational contexts.

Nathan Illman 06:41

I love this idea of helping to reduce student anxiety and bring them into a state that’s more optimized for learning because I think it’s something that we can all kind of resonate with that how the nerves that we get around certain things that might be challenging for us can impact our ability to learn and take tests and things and, there is research that shows that which shows that performance can be improved simply by addressing the anxiety that people experience for different things.

Jasna Schwind 07:11

I very much agree. And there’s a lot of research now that has come out over the past 20 years, especially, you know, empirical research, the, you know, randomized control studies, qualitative research that really recognizes the value of managing, and first of all, being aware of our, of our emotions of our state of mind, and how these impact, again, how we engage with what activity, whatever is happening. And I work very much with metaphors. And so I tell the students is, if your mind is closed, like a very tight, no water can seep through that. And that is like new knowledge or energy. But if it’s relaxed, more relaxed, energy and knowledge can permeate that. And then you can then take use that like in a planter, if it’s a metal planter, you can pour lots of water in, after a while it overflows and nothing sticks. But if you have a planter that’s porous, you poured the water in, it’s absorbed, and you keep knowledge is just coming in and coming in and you’re integrating it. So using these visuals I’d find and these metaphoric images, the students over the years, anecdotally and through research have said how helpful that is to them to grasp these ideas and then make them theirs. And the idea is to make it your own before it does anything really,

Nathan Illman 08:46

I love that metaphor. And I can see why that would be really helpful for students as well. So today’s conversation is going to focus on self-compassion. And you’ve already mentioned just then around a couple of the exercises that you did mindfulness and self-compassion exercises with your students. So in terms of the direction of this conversation in a moment, we’re going to talk through this recent review article that you and your co-authors have done. And I’ll just, I suppose just to let listeners know the moment yet, and I’ve had a conversation before this. And what we thought might be quite a nice idea is we’re going to talk about yesterday’s paper and some really nice recommendations that she and her co-authors have made around nursing curriculum and self-compassion. And at the end, I’m going to lead a brief self-compassionate exercise too, I suppose make it a little bit more tangible, something concrete that people can follow along with and see what self-compassion sounds like and what it feels like. So just to begin with, should we just talk a little bit about what self-compassion is? And I’d be curious to know if you asked me for you. I know there is some sort of technical definitions, research in the literature, and definitions, but what does it mean to you? What’s your sort of personal definition of it?

Jasna Schwind 10:00

Yes. So for me, Mindful self-compassion is mindful self-awareness of the mind, body, spirit, and emotion. So this holistic awareness of ourselves. And it’s, and then it’s like doing a diagnostic body scan. You know, when we have a car, we take it to the mechanic mistake, something’s wrong with it. I’m not sure what it is. So they do a diagnostic. So this is what we actually do when we are self-aware, we scan the body. And Jon Kabat Zinn did beautiful work with Mindful-Based Stress Reduction. He has a 12-week program, and that is very, very helpful to many people for various reasons. But it’s that body scan, we check to see what’s going on. And it’s not just what we are thinking, oftentimes that is, but also, are we holding tension, the stress in any part of our body, our emotions? are we feeling frazzled? are we feeling overly anxious over it or not? And so on. So really, we’re what we’re doing is we’re looking to see what is calling our attention. And then we note this, we consider what arises for us, is its acceptance of this need? Or is it the resistance, that’s something that we need to ask ourselves, if it’s acceptance, then we can breathe into it, we can consider it reflect on it with care. However, from my experience, and having worked with myself and with people, a lot of times we tend to lean towards the latter where we are resistant, and then we become self-critical. And so what we need to do then is to explore this resistance without judgment so that what is needed really is a kind curiosity, similar to what we would accord to a dear friend. What is the resistance about without judging without criticism without beating ourselves up? You know, it’s okay, you know, I’m feeling down again, what? What’s going on? Can you tell me about it? Can I maybe write it down? Okay, it will be fine. Let’s support ourselves. So this is what we would do with a friend, tell me about your feeling down, did anything happen? What can I do to be there supportive, maybe breathing a little bit deeper, would help you know, and so on? So this is what we do. So this so with Mindful self-presence, we have the opportunity to start over again, and longtime practitioner, practitioner, and expert in mindfulness in loving kindness is Sharon Salzberg. She wrote a lovely book on loving-kindness in the 90s. And she says, she goes every minute, every moment is an opportunity to start over. And sometimes, again, many of us have this all-or-nothing thinking. And so like, oh, my gosh, I’ve messed it up. So that’s the end. No, this is the moment I messed up, now is a new moment, perhaps we can start over again. So to me, Mindful self-compassion is this. I love it. So loving-kindness to ourselves.

Nathan Illman 13:15

That’s wonderful. Thanks. I find the Begin Again, kind of notion really important and helpful for myself. Sometimes I find myself really trying to practice self-compassion every day. And I’m not sure whether you’ve had this experience where I find myself being self-critical. And then I, there’s like, another layer of self-criticism because I forgot to be self-compassionate. And it’s really helpful to remind me, okay, just begin again. I can start again and be self-compassionate.

Jasna Schwind 13:50

But that’s what makes us human. Yeah. And that’s again to me. I’ve been doing this for many, many years. And when I teach these workshops and mindfulness and Mindful self-compassion to students, and you know, and colleagues, it’s basically allowing ourselves to be who we are, without, without guilt and shame. Chris Girma, who works with Kristin Neff, and the two of them together developed a toolbox of Mindful self-compassion, what the three pillars are of being mindful or present at the moment and self-kindness, and also the common humanity. So if so, they basically identified these but I find that when we practice in a kind way to ourselves, that’s what we are doing. And when I mentioned Chris Grimmer, he also his work then specifically looked to Shane, and how shame underlies all of these layers and you know, like just what you were saying, you know, oh my gosh, like, I’ve done this for how many 30 years? Why am I still having a hard time being present in the moment? It’s okay. It just is. And without feeling bad or ashamed, or, you know, because we wouldn’t shame a friend? Why do we do that to ourselves, you know?

Nathan Illman 15:19

And that leads nicely with the exercise we’ll be doing later. So I’m actually curious to know before we launch into talking about the paper, and in your experience, your sort of vast professional experience, can you just tell us a little bit about where you see a lack of self-compassion showing up perhaps in Student Nurses? Where how does that manifest in general?

Jasna Schwind 15:42

Oh, my gosh, a lot of that. It’s a huge topic, in all honesty, because it has to do is connected with perfectionism, we have to be perfect. And in academia, that is very high as one of the big challenges we want our students to succeed. And grades in academia are a way to show how what the student has achieved, however, that can really overshadow the learning, it’s like, I just want this great because I need it if I want to go further in my education, or my family, expects it or you know, whatever, so that these pressures are increasing on our young people, and all of us, but speaking of our students, and so this societal expectation of success. And then, and please, don’t get me wrong, I think we need all of our wonderful advances in technology and social media and so on. However, I find that over the years, the student’s anxiety has risen so high that there are times when I wonder, if are they actually learning something. And so, especially for my graduate students, because they don’t have exit exams. So it’s how you will demonstrate your education by what you actually learn so that you can apply it once you graduate with your master’s or your doctorate. But most of the students that in our school that I have been working with our master students, you will go into your profession, and nobody’s going to say, did you get an A, or an A minus or A, B, or whatever on your assignment, they’re going to know how well you learned is by watching how you apply it in clinical practice, in your role, whatever that may be. Oftentimes, these are leadership roles, advanced practice nurses, and so on. And so it really is, again, the quality of that learning. And I find the anxiety and these high expectations that I’ll just say, society in general, but even you know, familial, and then individual makes students driven to succeed. And they focus mostly on those grades. And although they are important, and we need to have some kind of, you know, measurements and so on, but not when it’s out of balance. And so I find that in order to, for students to be resilient in life, they need to learn how to actually live the experiences, and to learn from these so that they can advance on the life path. You know, it’s not just the numbers or the grades, but again, I’m in a different stage of life than they are they’re 18, 19, 20, you know, and I’m imagining I’m probably like that, too, you know, so I can’t it’s not a criticism of them. It’s just my desire to help them to relieve them of the burden of these expectations, I guess.

Nathan Illman 19:05

So would it be okay to talk us through the review article anymore? I want to mention your co-authors as well. And bow just give us a brief summary of why you did the review article. I guess what you’re aiming to achieve and yeah, just a little bit of a kind of synopsis of the paper.

Jasna Schwind 19:24

Of course, of course. Yes. So this article is really inspired by our collective interest in Mindful self-compassion and nursing education. So for this article, I worked with Dr. Lisa Hackerman. And Dr. Louella, Minh, and CO ranking are my colleagues with whom I collectively work in terms of research as well as writing on this topic. And we wanted to explore self-compassion and its role in supporting well-being compassionate care and students’ academic success. These are the things that are important to us. As nurses, nursing professors, and we really wanted to look at the literature, what is out there what has been written on this particular topic of interest, because what we are trying to do, we’re just starting another study that where we want to see how we can better support developing, if you will, compassionate leaders, and so that it’s not just compassionate care, as in a nurse-patient relationship, but compassionate care within themselves and then Compassionate Leadership. So that’s why we wanted to do this review to see what is there. So we wanted to see compassion, Self Care for Self, and Others, does that come hand in hand? Or is that something that one needs to then further develop, we can talk about that a bit later, but this is just what we were interested in finding out when we were doing the article. But the integrated review really revealed that Mindful self-compassion may indeed promote compassionate care towards others and that it also may support personal well-being and resilience. And further supports emotional intelligence, which really strengthens communication skills, and response-able, instead of reacting to, for example, which is, again, this present moment awareness where we have a chance for even for milli second to stop and say, you know, is my response to this moment? Or is it something that’s been bothering me about this particular relationship or situation from before? And of course, as educators, we’re interested in students’ academic success. So based on that review, and a study that we did, before that, where we tried to develop further faculty capacity or, you know, meaning capacity of our educators, for it, was for mindful practices, but Mindful self-compassion, so that really, we need to bring the experiential into the teaching, learning context of so that teachers or educators, and students can actually learn through experience, so it’s not just speaking about it. Because my personal belief is, and I’ve read this example before, and it just made such sense to me again, this you can’t, you know, you can read all you want about swimming, but unless you get wet, you can’t learn, you can’t swim, you know, kind of thing. So it’s that kind of stuff, you know, we can talk about it. And that’s why I love the idea that at the end, you will be guiding us through an exercise. So the audience may actually experience what it may feel like, because we can talk about it may be of interest, we hope it is of interest to people, but actually experiencing it makes that difference, then, of course, you know, so this experiential piece is very important.

Nathan Illman 23:19

Thanks for giving us that summary. So I suppose you mentioned there, you were looking at that relationship between self-compassion, that sort of kindness towards ourselves, our ability to be compassionate towards other people. And obviously, that’s important in nursing and healthcare isn’t too.

Nathan Illman 23:38

And then he looked at the influence compassion had on student learning that helped optimize and improved the actual learning experience of the nurses, and nursing students, and then looked at the specific experiential work that you could do that you could embed into the curricula. I guess I should just dig into those a little bit more.

Jasna Schwind 23:38


Jasna Schwind 24:00


Nathan Illman 24:02

So with self-compassion and compassionate care, I mean, I think it makes completely intuitive sense, doesn’t it that if we are able to be kind to ourselves, we’re able to be acknowledged our own emotional states and were able to kind of coach ourselves to do our best and put in a non-kind of shaming critical way, it’s going to get us into a state that is, it is better for being the caregivers that we want to be so isn’t it? Yes. Is that your personal experience? And is that what you found from this review?


Indeed, yes. And this review really supported what we were experiencing ourselves and from our personal work with, our students, but also the research that we started To develop further. And so we were heartened by the fact that other colleagues and researchers have come across, you know, have found similar perspectives and ideas. See, because when we are present with ourselves, we are, then we start, I have to just as a side note, sometimes people say I’m very compassionate towards others, but when it comes to myself, I’m not. And so, I personally wanted to think more about so what is it. Do I have to be mindful of myself, before I can meet, I mean, I’m sorry, compassionate with myself before I can be compassionate with others. That was interesting. And that, for me, I thought, oh, tension, what is it and up and further reflection with and work with, with participants, with colleagues and so on, I have come to recognize that and that we cannot authentically give what we do not have. And so based on that, I feel that we first really must be kind to ourselves, before we can extend that kindness to others because we need to know what that kindness is. And we need to be response-able to the person in our care because it’s not, you know when I first started doing this, and people oftentimes say, of course, you’re a nurse, you’re caring, I’m sorry to disappoint the world, it is a nurse does not guarantee it. It is, what we are before we are any profession, we are first human beings, and we bring all who we are as persons into our professional roles, and vice versa. So we, being nurses, and educators, although we are the most lot more likely to be interested in supporting and caring, compassionate, of course, it’s not a guarantee. And so we can learn allopathically of what compassion is with caring is, you know, just disconnected from books and textbooks and stuff, very important. But until we experience it ourselves, it’s not authentic, because not everybody needs to be asked the question. So how is your dog, you know, to go beyond the actual disease process of a person, somebody may be interested saying, you know, what, I understand you have a certain, you know, you were just told you, they have a serious illness. So is there somebody at home that can look after your dog that may be important to that person, but not necessarily to everybody who was diagnosed with a serious illness? So this is this thing of being response-able and Louise Hay was a writer and worked very much on the mind and body and spirit connection. And she said, we have to be response-able, and that’s what mindful presence allows that allows us to do, and when we are present in that way, with ourselves, then we know what that feels like. And so that we can then also offer it to others. So when we have that kindness, and presence aligned, then we can then genuinely authentically do that, not just by the book, which becomes very mechanistic, and you know, then pat answers which are actually more harmful. Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine. Maybe for one person, yes. But for somebody else, that may not be the case. So anyhow. So it really is really this presents a connection with one another on a human level. And that’s where my work very informs this work. And mindfulness is the humanness of care that we connect on a human level.

Nathan Illman 29:10

That’s so important.

Jasna Schwind 29:12


Nathan Illman 29:12

I think something encouraging for the listeners out there who are listening to this thinking, Yeah, I find it really much easier to be compassionate towards others than think compassionate towards myself. You’re not the only person and that is definitely found in the research literature. And I’m sure we all know people like that. I was certainly like that until I started working on self-compassion. But the good news is that there are lots of tools that we can use. It’s a skill set, isn’t it that we can be trained in there are some blocks and barriers to being self-compassionate sometimes, but we know quite a bit about those and those can be overcome as well. So let’s move on to talking about self-compassion and student learning then. I think this is really interesting research literature because I think sometimes people have misconceptions about self-compassion. There are some myths It’s about self-compassion or misgivings, such that self-compassion sometimes is equated with self-indulgence that if I’m going to be so compassionate, and it’ll be kind and loving to myself, that means how am I going to perform? How am I going to do well, if I’m just giving myself self-love all the time, I think your summary of how self-compassion can actually improve student learning addresses some of that. So you want to just talk through a few of the kinds of sort of findings that you came up with?

Jasna Schwind 30:29

Well, for example, you’ve mentioned how Mindful self-compassion, people say, well, so if I’m kind to myself, and well, I feel down, so I want to be kind to myself, and I will go and have some chocolate cookies, for example. Well, am I being kind to myself? Good question. So the way we want to discern, differentiate, being kind to ourselves is what is the long-term benefit? What is the long view I may be false, but I don’t want to say falsely, because there’s a time and place where you know what things are happening? And I just need to have a chocolate cookie. There’s no nothing wrong with it. There’s no need to shame. But if it is something that we default to mindlessly, Oh, I’m tired cookies. Oh, I’m stressed cookies. That’s not being kind that’s being disembodied. That’s being disconnected. And that’s harmful. What is kind is to say, I recognize that I’m very tired, or I’m stressed or I’m anxious, I get I recognize that I am craving sugar, not cookies, or sugar to boost my energy. What else could I do to do that? And so and so this is, so again, it’s having that space by being present. And by being loving that the word tough love somehow seems wrong, but being caring enough to ourselves, so we don’t harm ourselves. That’s the difference. And so kindness, you know, again, like, for example, I’m thinking many years ago, I was a critical care nurse. And so a patient would come in, in an emergency room, a patient would come in with a wound, and I would have to perhaps pull off a, you know, dressing that was stuck to the wound. Well, I will do that care compassionately. But I suddenly have to pull that off, that’s more caring than leaving it on and letting it fester. Do you know what I mean? So oh, she was kind, she never removed the dressing, no, she wasn’t doing her job. You know, in order to care for this patient with kindness and knowledge, I need to remove that dressing so that we can divide the air you know, the wound, and then dress properly, so it can heal. So it’s really um, so when we talk about Mindful self-compassion, we’re not throwing the brain out the window, it has to be intelligent. It has to be holistic and integrated into mind, body, spirit, and emotion. So that all these pieces that play into the situation, whatever that may be, so when I talk to the students, again, being kind to themselves, maybe they have three or four papers that are assignments that are due, you know, within the same week at the end of the term, or something. So what may be the kindest thing to do is organize and prioritize, these are skills that also students learn and then see, and then realistically focus on one and get that completed. As we know, studies have shown that if we go from task to task with a task, it’s like a train when they switch tracks, it takes a moment for it to click from one track to another. So it’s the brain blink, that is the scientific term that we that has been identified, even if it’s a milli, milli second, it helps us it prevents us from focusing and staying on track with one thing. So that is a kindness that we extend to ourselves. And if we say and then we say, I need to spend time talking with a friend, allow that, to be able to feed the soul, so to speak for pure, but give it a finite time so that it does not eat away at your other more. So it’s this sense of I would say my presence maturity, as some will call it. That’s kindness that’s being kind to ourselves when we don’t know where we are. We proceed, but gently and caringly Yeah, that’s what comes to my mind. Yeah.

Nathan Illman 34:55

That’s certainly my experience. I think, you know, as we know from the research literature, as well, that when we’re being self-compassionate, we’re actually we’re being motivating aren’t we? We’re using it to motivate ourselves with kindness rather than criticism, which we actually know does not impact our ability to set goals and achieve goals. In fact, the opposite actually helps you to be more focused, and actually helps students to come back from setbacks quicker, helps them to be more willing and open to receive feedback from their tutors or other people, perhaps on their placements. Because you know that if you do something wrong, or you make a mistake, you’ve got your own back, haven’t you, you are able to respond with kindness, acknowledge this sort of, you know, the things that you might have done well, as well as the things you didn’t do so well, and then move forward with an action plan. And I think that’s, that’s something about self-compassion, I think sometimes people don’t get it that they think because people have been, understandably, habitually used that self-criticism being hard on themselves to perform. And you know, what, it does work, doesn’t it? It works to a certain extent, but at what cost? It can make you feel more anxious and stressed that the alternative is self-compassion, which allows you to do all those things, but actually feel good about yourself at the same time.

Jasna Schwind 36:20

Yes, yes. And if I may add here is that when we role model that to our students, then it becomes normalized. And they can see that if they are treated with kindness, chances are much higher, they will extend that kindness to people in their care, to themselves, and to others. And so it really is spreading the wave of positivity, if you will, as opposed to a lot of times we will hear well, when I was in such and such school grade, my teacher was very screaming and hard on me and so on. And so they think that when they get to be teachers, not that they’re trying to be mean, it’s just that that’s the only thing that was role model to them. But to all of us, um, so it’s not them and us, it’s just we were once they’re in school, but when we are treated with care and compassion, the chances are much higher, they will treat their own themselves like that, their families, their people in their care if they’re in nursing, or whatever profession they are in, in teaching or you know, and so on. So, so it does multiply. So it’s a good wave.

Nathan Illman 37:36

Yeah, absolutely. So, um, I’m mindful of time, and I don’t want to, obviously, I know you’re going to have other things to do later. Yes, no. Would it be great before we move on to do this exercise? Why don’t you tell us about these recommendations that came out of this review, I think they’re fantastic. And it was, it was so funny when I came across your paper, because, it coincided so much with the work that I’m doing over here in the UK, which is basically to try and push for this to embed self-compassion work into nursing education and curricula. So just talk us through what your recommendations are.

Jasna Schwind 38:10

So let’s be real, our goal is really to integrate Mindful self-compassion into nursing curricula from day one, and ensure its skills are threaded through all courses. But before we can do that, we really need to build what we call faculty capacity or capacity of teachers, tutors, educators, you know, different terms that we use, they need to, they need to learn the skills themselves because not everyone is comfortable or skilled in engaging mindful practices. And so, I think that is very, very important. And we could also engage students in artful activities like creative reflection, and engage in reflective dialogues with one another. Because we need to award the same recognition to Mindful self-compassion, to skills as we do to other scholarly endeavors. So we as educators need to then demonstrate respect for the development of the future and use the metaphor of self as an instrument of care. So we need to develop our future instruments of care to be fine-tuned to be to, to function at their highest possible ability, and that can be through scholarly readings, research, of course, but importantly, to bring the dynamic work and the experiential that they together form as one, that they inform one another. And so it is that it is normalized. So it’s not well, this teacher uses mindful practices. And this one doesn’t, or this one is nice, but this one is not, you know, so to really have it as part of the curriculum, and that process takes a lot of work, because curricula, as you know, take time to develop. And it’s a process in different places, you know, that has to be followed, but we have to start somewhere. And so that’s what that’s the biggest recommendation is for us is to bring the academic textbook stuff with the experiential, and start day one, but also, the faculty educators need to be versed in this as well.

Nathan Illman 40:47

I totally agree. I think there’s a trickle-down effect that’s necessary. And like you say, it’s, it’s a kind of philosophy, isn’t it? Rather than it’s just, here’s a module, here’s something that you can just take, and it’s, it’s just a one-off thing. Yeah, that’s great. So what we’ll do is we’ll put a link to your article in the show notes of this podcast, and people can access that. And however, even with the sales, there may be nurse educators out there who are people from universities or nursing students who would like to have a look at the article and those recommendations. So shall we move on to this exercise to finish off?

Jasna Schwind 41:21

Thank you. Yes, please. Great.

Nathan Illman 41:24

So in this exercise, we’re going to be giving you a little bit of a taster of what it’s like to experience self-compassion. So of course, if you’re listening to this, whilst driving, you may not want to close your eyes or follow along, I’m going to invite you if you’d like to, to close your eyes, it can help people focus sometimes. And we’re just going to set ourselves, to begin with with a couple of slightly deeper breaths in through your nose and out through the mouth.

Nathan Illman 42:01

And I just want you to bring to mind, a recent experience that you’ve had where perhaps you were being a little bit hard on yourself, you noticed some maybe negative self-talk, perhaps something had gone wrong. And I want you to think about an experience if we had a rating of one to 10, where 10 was a really quite intense event or experience for you. And one was really kind of like minor, we’re going for like a two or three on this scale. So think about a time when you’re hard on yourself, perhaps putting pressure on yourself, and just want you to bring to mind the particular words that were being used in your mind and the tonality of that inner self-talk. And as you do that, just notice how your body feels, as you sort of replay that.

Nathan Illman 43:07

The first thing I’m going to get you to do with a genuine sense of curiosity is just to ask yourself, would I speak to a friend or family important to me in the way that I’ve been speaking to myself in my mind, just notice whatever shows up.

Nathan Illman 43:32

And now what I’m going to ask you to do is, imagine a friend, someone close to you could be a family member, someone important to you. Imagine they’ve been through a very similar situation, perhaps they made a mistake. They failed an exam, there was something going on that was hard for them. Want you to just picture them in your mind, picture their face, the way they look as they’re struggling? Really see if you can imagine that in your mind’s eye. And I want you to imagine the kinds of words and gestures you might use to show compassion towards that person. What might you say to them in that moment of struggling or suffering? Might you put an arm around them to comfort them really imagine the tone of voice that you would use as you did that? And really notice what that feels like in your body. As you imagine expressing this compassion and understanding caring kindness towards a friend

Nathan Illman 44:57

so now I’m going to invite you to do something a little bit deep For, I want you for a moment now to see if you can extend that same sense of compassion towards yourself. So bringing to mind again, this situation that happened lately, where you were being hard on yourself, or being self-critical. And I just want you to use those same words, imagining the kind of gesture that you did with your friend. And offering that to yourself at this moment. A good question to ask ourselves is, what do I most need right now? Or what did I most need at that moment? What did I need to hear? Or feel?

Nathan Illman 45:57

Notice what that feels like to offer yourself that genuine expression of kindness and support and comfort. Sometimes it can be difficult. Maybe you surprise yourself. Just note whatever showed up for you. And just to finish this exercise, I’m just going to invite you to practice that. Perhaps going through the rest of today, whatever’s going on for you. Maybe there’s quite a lot of pressure at work or in your studies and see if you can try to summon up that same kind of motivating voice. Okay, let’s finish the exercise there. Jasna, do you mind sharing just a little reflection? It’s all about how you found that. What showed up for you?

Jasna Schwind 46:45

Oh, that was absolutely lovely. Thank you. And I, when I imagined a stressful situation, where I felt the one I wanted to be critical about when I was going through and when and when you said, would you talk to a friend like that? And I wouldn’t and what would I say to my friend, I would, you know, touch their arm in a caring way. And I would say it’s okay, you’re doing the best you can. And this is you know, and I went on and support him. And that came so readily to me, as we talked earlier, this sense of you know, wanting to be caring and supporting to others. And then by doing that, a turning that then towards me, it just I felt relaxed, I felt like the energy just eased off. When I first imagined or recalled the situation, I had tension in my epigastric area and the stomach area. And I felt a bit stiff in my body. And then I just felt this melting of tension and the muscles are relaxing. So thank you, that was beautiful. That was very helpful.

Nathan Illman 48:02

No problem. If anyone listening would like to access that exercise, then you can visit our YouTube channel where I’ll make sure there’s an upload of that. And there’s going to be some other exercises. It’s nurse wellbeing mission on YouTube. And just to finish the conversation today, with all of your vast and wonderful experience. What’s your advice you would like to share perhaps to maybe just to nurses who are starting their training or just nursing colleagues in general, what’s Can you share some wisdom or one piece of advice you’d like to give people?

Jasna Schwind 48:37

A couple of things, the first thing is, is to be gentle, be gentle with yourself. Or I’d like to speak in we need to be gentle with ourselves, all of us. And keeping in mind that every moment is an opportunity to start over again, very important. And that doing one workshop or one looking listening to one podcast or YouTube, that’s beautiful. But it’s not the practice itself. It’s a way of life, it does not mean that everything is going to be peachy beautiful. It just means that we will live our life. We will taste it, we will live it we will enjoy it more because we are living it so gently. And it’s a way of life. So just that would be my overall but I could talk for much longer than that.

Nathan Illman 49:34

Well, I’m gonna get you back on. Thank you so much that we could talk about overlap pathways and what we’re interested in and what we practice in our own lives.

Jasna Schwind 49:45

Yes, indeed. Yes.

Nathan Illman 49:47

So I just wanted to thank you enormously for your time today and for the work that you’re doing. It’s really inspired me and I love reading your research. So

Jasna Schwind 49:59

Thank you so much, Nathan. It’s such a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you