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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Self-compassion as a resource to manage stress in women athletes Mosewich, Amber Dawn


Competitive sport presents unique issues that can create a variety of demands on athletes. The purpose of this dissertation was to further understanding of self-compassion in women athletes managing challenging situations in sport. Key focuses included the fit of selfcompassion within the stress and coping process, relation of self-compassion with sport-relevant variables, and self-compassion intervention effectiveness with women athletes. Three studies worked towards accomplishing this objective. The first study took a phenomenological orientation to explore women athletes’ experiences with setbacks and accompanying coping responses, including the role of self-compassion. Thematic analysis revealed poor performance, performance plateau, and injury were common setback experiences. Managing setbacks involved having a positive approach, managing self-criticism, using social support, and striving for balance. Results suggested fostering self-compassionate perspectives may positively add to coping skills resources through targeting issues the athletes identified as challenging, such as rumination and self-criticism in pursuit of perfection. Given these issues, and the conceptual links to coping expressed in the initial study, a second prospective study examined the relations between self-compassion, perfectionism, and the stress and coping process. Self-compassion was negatively related to social evaluative aspects of perfectionism, threat appraisal, avoidance coping, and negative affect, and positively related to control appraisal. Though no support was found for self-compassion as a moderator variable in the relation between goal progress and different aspects of the stress and coping process, results indicated that both goal progress and self-compassion were important individual predictors of the stress process. These results strengthen self-compassion’s theoretical and empirical connection to evaluative processes and coping in athletes. The third study evaluated a self-compassion intervention consisting of psychoeducation and writing components designed to promote self-compassionate mind-frames when dealing with difficult events. The self-compassion intervention was successful, resulting in higher levels of self-compassion, and lower levels of state self-criticism, state rumination, and concern over mistakes in a group of varsity women athletes, compared to an attention control group. The intervention supported the use of self-compassion to help women athletes manage stress. Overall, this dissertation provides support for the utility of self-compassion in sport as a resource for women athletes.

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