Everyone agrees that self-care is important. Most of us are guilty of gently (or not gently) urging the people that we love to look after themselves, and then forgetting to follow our own advice. The problem is there is a vast difference between knowing something and doing it. Knowing that you need to create a self-care plan is great, but unless you take action it is not enough.The major obstacle is not knowing where to start – the overwhelming array of options, lack of clarity in which option is right for you, how to translate ideas into sustainable habits – and so you don’t start at all.
Here’s your chance to commit to starting.
Create your own self-care plan
1. Do a self-care assessment
You can’t create an effective self-care plan if you are not clear on your situation.
Do a quick assessment of the key self-care areas: psychological, emotional, and physical.
- How are you currently taking action to maintain a healthy state in each area?
- What evidence do you see in your life of this working?
- In what areas do you need to improve your self-care?
- What evidence do you see to suggest this?
- On a scale of 1-10 (1=low, 10=high) how would you rate your self-care in each area? Why?
- Which area/s require immediate attention?
- What will happen if you continue as you are?
2. Define your ideal
The most common mistake is making self-care purely reactive. You feel stressed, so you give yourself a break. It’s not until you get sick, that you give yourself some rest. You are overworked, so you ask for some support. Whilst this is an important element of self-care, the most effective self-care plan is one that allows you to thrive, instead of merely picking you up when you fall.
Let me give you a warning – this step will be hard. Many of you may not be ready to let yourself do it. Why? Because what I am about to ask you to do is to stop being “realistic”. To let go of your judgement, ignore the inner critic, and just dream a little.
I’m not talking tropical islands and retiring at 40 years old… I am asking you to silence that little voice that says “I don’t have time for that” to the prospect of 15 measly minutes for you. The voice that tells you you’re “being lazy” when you try to sit for a moment. You know the one. Shut. It. Off.
Now acknowledging what you uncovered in your self-care assessment, what would be your ideal self-care plan?
- Your core priorities – what is most important to you? If you are unsure what your core priorities are, a simple exercise to get some clarity can be found here
- Your vision for your future – where would you like your life to be in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?
- Your goals – what would you like to be able to achieve?
Brainstorm your ideas freely, without Judgey McJudgerson. When you feel the ideas slowing down, consider: how would this plan impact your life? What would happen if you were to implement this plan?
3. Create your sustainable self-care plan
Now that you have your ideal plan, you can bring in that judgement that I know you have been itching for. Release the critic. Take a reality check.
However, keep in the forefront of your mind what impact continuing in your current habits will have. And stay conscious of the potential impact your ideal plan could have.
Using your current situation, your ideal self-care plan, and the reality of your schedule and responsibilities, identify the self-care actions that will best meet your needs.
Tips for success:
- Ensure you are meeting the needs of each area of self-care
- You may find you want to combine or adapt ideas from your brainstorm
- Be mindful not to overload your plan – you want to make it sustainable. Aim for 1-2 actions in each area per week.
- Post your self-care plan somewhere that you will see it every day. Consider scheduling key elements into your calendar to support you in establishing the habits. Re-assess how you are going after a month. Remember that it can take up to three months to truly establish some habits, so be gentle on yourself, but be firm with your purpose and priorities.
- Stuck for ideas? Get started with 30 simple self-care habits here