A Self-Care Plan… All Your Own
How to create a self-care plan that is unique to you and how to get back on track when you hit bumps in the road.
Self-care can most simply be described as coping strategies. The tools we use when we need emotional, mental, or physical support or strength to persevere and adaptively manage the stressors in our life and help us restore some level of balance. As vital as self-care is, it often is the first thing put on the back burner when crisis or stress piles up. Here’s a way to set yourself up for self-care success:
Think of your self-care plan as a roadmap (the paper kind, no finicky internet connection needed). It’s your individualized, preventative plan that (with practice) will feel second-nature to implement when it’s needed most .
So, where to begin with your self-care plan?
First, create an activity list organized around different parts of your life: For each area, write down the activities or strategies that you can call on and that contribute to your well being. Break this into categories if it feels daunting: work, physical fitness, emotional life, relationships and community, etc.
Here’s a great template to make it easier. Have fun, be creative, and most importantly, be real with yourself about what really works for you and what doesn’t.
Second, note any barriers that may be in your way and how to shift them. As you write down each activity, ask yourself what barriers might get in the way of you being able to accomplish it. Then, try to strategize ways that you might be able to shift these barriers. If you find that you can’t shift the barriers, feel free to adjust the activities. Your Self-Care Plan is not written in stone. It’s meant to be a living, breathing guide that adapts as your life circumstances and demands change.
Third, share your plan with your closest friends. Don’t forget to rely on your network of self-care buddies, your friends, family, community. Share a copy of your Self-Care Plan with them and ask them to hold you accountable. Encourage them to create their own plan and share it with you so you can do the same for them.
Example Self-Care Plan
Category: Emotional Life
1) Develop friendships that are supportive
2) Write down three good things that you do each day
3) Regularly meet with your social group/community of care
1. Your friendships are not equal in “give and take.” Shift it: define expectations with your closest friends. Don’t assume your friends know what you need from them.
2. You’re in the habit of negative self-talk. Shift it: every time you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself, say the exact opposite to yourself.
3. Your friends or self-care network don’t have time to meet. Shift it: Set up a meet-up/zoom date in advance and have it be reoccuring.
Make it Visual
Adding a visual will make your Self-Care Plan more impactful for you.
Start by jotting down a list of keywords or phrases from the activities list you created—choose whichever words resonate with you the most. Then, grab some art materials and transform these into visual elements. Use different colors, drawings, photos, whatever works for you to create visual cues that resonate with you and your plan.
Once completed, put it somewhere you’re sure to see it every day because doing so will help you think about and (re)commit to your strategies. A byproduct of keeping it visible is that others will see it, too, and this will encourage them to ask about it, reflect on it, support your efforts, and, just maybe, even get them thinking about creating their own self-care vision.
Sticking to Your Plan
Just like an athlete who trains for a competitive event, Self-Care Plans require that you practice the activities regularly. Be realistic with yourself by remembering that it takes time for a new practice to become a routine. There will be moments when you falter and that’s okay… it’s inevitable. How do you get yourself back on track when you falter? Refocus and recommit to your plan while leaving plenty of room for grace as you find your way in this new practice.
By having a plan in place for those moments when all seems lost, you can more easily find your way back to center.
By having a plan in place for those moments when all seems lost,
you can more easily find your way back to center.