Establishing a Self-Care Plan

Self-care involves our conscious efforts and actions that focus on taking care of our physical, emotional, and mental well being.  Engaging in self-care can often be challenging  especially during times when it is needed the most.  However self-care is a necessary skill and activity that we must be able to engage in so that we can function at work, home, and in our relationships.  Some individuals may consider self-care to be selfish however we need to be selfish at times because we cannot take care of others or certain tasks if we are neglecting ourselves.  Using the analogy of the safety information when we fly can be helpful to think about: we must put on our own oxygen mask before putting one on others because what use will we be to others if we cannot breathe on our own?

Engaging in self care activities during times of stress, change, loss, or trauma is extremely important however we may find it overwhelming to have to use energy to engage in intentional actions focused on ourselves.  It can be helpful to figure out what activities nourish our physical, emotional, and mental selves when we are not in crisis or feeling stressed so that when we do face those challenging times, we will already have a plan in place.  Here are some suggestions you may consider for coming up with your own self care plan:

Physical self care activities:

  • Engage in a healthy diet and eat three square meals a day.
  • Engage in some form of physical activity or exercise; walking just 20-30 minutes a day can do wonders and has been shown to decrease depression and chronic health problems.
  • Establish healthy sleep hygiene. Do not drink caffeine or exercise too close to the time you want to go to bed. Create a consistent sleep-wake schedule and aim to get 7-10 hours of sleep at night.
  • Receive medical care when it is necessary. Don’t wait until it is an emergency; rather consider ways you can be preventative.

Mental self care activities :

  • Establish a ritual to write in a journal on a regular basis to help you process the challenges and positive experiences of your day.
  • Practice mindfulness, meditation, or relaxation exercises.  Simple breathing exercises can help us circulate oxygen to our brain which can help ground us and promote a clear head.
  • Seek counseling services to address stressors and/or ongoing concerns.

Emotional self care activities

  • Initiate regular contact with individuals in your support network to prevent isolation.
  • Be aware of your limits and set healthy boundaries at work and in your relationships.
  • Engage in pleasurable and enjoyable activities on a regular basis, whether it is alone or with other people.

Self care only occurs when we make conscious decisions to engage in it therefore we need to learn how to make it a priority since it will not happen on its own.  Individuals who engage in ongoing self care activities on a regular basis find that they are less likely to become stressed, are able to manage challenging situations effectively, are less likely to become physically ill and experience anxiety and depression, and typically feel more satisfied with their relationships.  Try our some of the suggestions above or contact us to help you develop your own self care plan.

~ Cory Stege, M.S., LMFT