Right now, it's natural for people to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed – or all three at once. Taking a step back to actively invest in your self-care can help improve your quality of life, your overall mental health and wellbeing, and even your productivity at work.
What is Self-Care Planning?
Self-care planning is the act of mindfully identifying and creating activities that boost you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Maybe it’s setting time to relax; maybe it’s exercise; maybe it’s simply getting a good night's sleep.
But a good self-care plan has to be thoughtfully created – identifying activities and practices that support and sustain you. Following your plan can help you feel more organized, focused, and in control of your feelings.
4 Considerations When Making Your Personalized Plan:
1. Understand Your Current Self-Care Routine
Stress makes it easy to fall back on old habits. But often, these same strategies that bring us comfort (poor eating habits; sedentary lifestyle) can over time create more stress. Good self-care planning helps us avoid these unhealthy habits by mindfully tending to five key areas:
Look at each of the above areas, and write down some positive self-care things you already do; think about things you'd like to change, and list a few new self-care activities that you'd like to try.
2. Identify Activities that Work Best for You
What activities do you enjoy? Which ones will bring about the best results? Some great examples:
- Exercise, at home, in a local park, or at the gym
- Make healthy, nutritious, and tasty meals
- Support your physical health by talking to specialists about any concerns
- Spend time with your partner, friends, and family
- Practice meditation or breathing exercises
- Get out into nature, especially if you spend most of your waking hours indoors
- Enjoy some leisure time, such as watching a film, reading a book, or playing a game
- Pamper yourself with a long bath, a facial, or a massage
- Set yourself up for a good night's sleep – shoot for 7-8 hours minimum
- Listen to music or podcasts that improves your mood or inspires you
- Plan time off work – either to go away, or enjoy time at home to relax and unwind
- Try a new creative activity, such as writing a journal, morning pages, painting, or sewing
3. Decide How Often You Can Practice Self-Care and Set Goals
Old habits have been created over a lifetime. Changing them won’t happen overnight. Set yourself up for success by creating realistic goals that stick to small changes at a time.
Start with a long bath, or coffee time; get in the habit of booking time for yourself and your self-care, no matter how 'small' the activity. Block off your calendar with achievable goals such as:
- Saturday: Find a couple of new healthy recipes to try for dinner next week
- Sunday: Arrange a dog walk with a friend.
Make sure you're realistic and start small.
4. Reflection and Support
In work and life, there are bound to be things that cause you to feel overwhelmed. How can you cope?
Create a few go-to self-care activities.
Identify who you can call if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or sad. This may include loved ones, a coach, teacher, or mental health professional.
Ask a friend or family member to support you. They might have helpful suggestions, could accompany you to events, or could support you in ensuring you get the “me time” that you need.
Knowing who or what you can lean on in times of need will make it a lot easier to manage your emotional, mental, and physical health.
Finally, make sure to record your activities, goals, and progress so you can see where you've done well, and where you struggled or found barriers. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a goal: just move it to the next week or think of another way you might be able to achieve it.