We Are Westridge

A community blog featuring Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor, the Westridge Leadership Team, our esteemed faculty members and occasional special guests


The Role of Self-Compassion on the Road from Anxiety to Motivation

by Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor

(Image source: iStock in The New York Times)

At times I am concerned that the rapid rise of mindfulness and wellness practices in schools will lead to them being written off by some as fads. However, as report after report confirms the increase of stress, anxiety, and depression in adolescents, especially among girls, other research confirms the links between self-compassion and student mental health. And there is more: rather than allowing one to excuse failures or back down from challenges, self-compassion has been shown to reinforce motivation and high performance standards. 

It’s not that we can include self-care in our challenging academic program; it’s that we should and we must.

There was a revealing piece on teen self-compassion by Rachel Simmons in The New York Times this week. In it, Simmons (who spoke at Westridge just over a year ago) references early work on the topic of self-compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff of the University of Texas at Austin. Westridge Research Fellow and sixth grade teacher Christine Kiphart trained under Dr. Neff as part of her work in bringing mindfulness practices to our school. Simmons just published a new book entitled, "Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives." Many of us will be reading it here and we encourage you and your daughters to read it too. We’re looking into hosting discussions on it either later this year or in the fall and will keep you updated as to when they will take place.


Choose groups to clone to:

An independent, forward-thinking
day school for girls, grades 4–12

324 Madeline Drive
Pasadena, California 91105
Phone: 626-799-1153
Fax: 626-799-9236

Westridge School admits students of any race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, tuition assistance programs, athletic, and other school-administered programs.

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