Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of deal. Just as each person is unique, self-care plans should be individualized as well. When pursuing a plan for self-care, it’s necessary to analyze your current lifestyle, answer a few questions and make a few decisions.
Below you’ll find a four-step process for identifying which area or areas of self-care are needed, some suggestions on self-care techniques to help get you started and how to implement the plan and stick with it.
1 – Know Your “Why”
The first step in developing your own self-care plan is to know why you want to do this in the first place. What are you looking to fix or restore? Self-care isn’t a self-indulgent activity; it’s about self-preservation and restoration.
Those with vehicles perform routine maintenance, such as oil changes and rotating tires, for safety and to ensure it continues to run properly. The human body is no different.
Consider the amount of work we put our bodies through on a daily basis. Self-care is you taking care of you, inside and out, and deliberately taking an adequate amount of time to do so.
If you aren’t clear on your why, your self-care routine won’t remain important in the long-run. Get up close and personal with yourself and decide your main reason for implementing a self-care regimen.
2 – Choose Self-Care Strategies that Fit
There are five basic areas where self-care applies: Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Physical and Social. In step 2, you’ll decide which areas of your life need an overhaul or rejuvenation and then choose a self-care technique to employ.
Below you’ll find a few ideas in each category to help you get an idea.
- Aromatherapy; candles, essential oils, etc.
- Talk to a trusted friend
- Read self-help books
- Positive affirmations
- Religious services or activities
- Spend time in nature
- Group fitness classes
- Yoga, Pilates, stretching
- Walk, run, jog
- Book club
- Support group
- A meal with friends
- Volunteer at a school or non-profit
Certainly not an exhaustive list, there are at least a few suggestions in each aspect where self-care might be needed. Chances are there is more than one area of life that could use some self-care assistance; don’t limit yourself.
3 – Schedule It!
Here’s the tricky part, and many of us are quick to come up with the “no time” excuse when attempting to implement a self-care plan. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t make time for yourself, eventually your time for others will diminish.
There will simply be less and less of yourself to offer if you aren’t refilling your self-care tank on a regular basis. Many self-care techniques take only a few minutes, while others might involve several hours. It’s entirely up to you and your schedule, but don’t make the grave mistake of denying yourself altogether.
Meditation can take as few as 5 or 10 minutes when you get the hang of it. A 10-minute walk? Surely there are TEN minutes in a day you can spare. Let’s put it into perspective on how easily we cheat ourselves out of self-care with lame excuses.
How often do you pick up your smartphone to check social media or email? If you don’t know how much time you spend on your phone with mindless activities, there are apps to track it. You might be shocked at the results.
How much time to you spend in front of the TV? On a smoke break? Driving? You can incorporate self-care techniques in ALL of these time slots you’ve made available for other activities.
4 – Follow Up and Reassess
And the final step? After you’ve started your self-care plan, go 7 days straight and then re-evaluate. Many recommend a month, but that’s a lot of days to carry on with something that might not be working, or forgotten altogether.
What are you looking for on your follow up? Pay special attention to how you feel after you engage in something for self-care. Does the scheduling need to be adjusted? Or does the activity itself need to be switched out for something else?
If you aren’t really getting the vibe you expected from weekly pedicures, switch it out for a 30-minute audiobook session at your favorite park. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try it.
The key here is to keep an open mind and be aware of whether your self-care plan is providing the benefits you expected. It’s okay to switch things up. If you aren’t a creature of habit and want the exact same routine, you don’t have to do that. Do what works for you and your lifestyle!
Self-care isn’t meant to be difficult. It’s supposed to be satisfying and a means to refuel and recharge. The important thing is that it benefits you, that you are taking care of you inside and out!