If you feel like no amount of “self-care” is getting to the root of what you’re facing, Neff says the emotional component is likely lacking. After all, she notes, when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, whether on the job or as a parent, you can’t always just say, Whoa, man, this is freaking me out. I have to take my bubble bath. See you later.

“In other words, how do we relate to our experiences of emotional pain, of fear, of stress, of depression, of sadness, grief, trauma right in the moment that it’s arising?” Neff explains. When she’s stressed, for example, she offers herself compassion.

She acknowledges her struggle and speaks to herself like she would a friend, saying things like, “This is so hard, Kris, I’m so sorry. I’m here for you. What can I do to help?” It comes down to holding those difficult, painful emotions without being overwhelmed in the moment, she adds: “It’s really a mindset.”

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