3 Steps to Create a Self-Care Plan

By Eric Perry, PhD-c

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“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~Oscar Wilde

In one way or another we are all caretakers. Care taking can be found in all aspects of life. Some of us are care takers in the professional sense and work in medical, mental health or other professions where the main responsibility is that of a caretaker. Others are caretakers in their everyday lives as parents or in other familial capacities. Taking care of loved ones in a non-professional capacity is one of the most rewarding and difficult roles a person can have.

In my work as a mental health professional I come across many caretakers who forget the golden rule of self-care, “Be as kind to yourself as you are to a friend.” As caretakers we all need to understand the importance of caring for ourselves. It is not a selfish indulgence, it is a necessity in order for us to recharge and be well. It is essential for all of us. We all need self care to fill our souls and minds with the necessary fuel in order to be strong enough to care for those around us and most importantly to care for ourselves. Self care is highly personal and will differ from person to person in relation to one’s life and duties, but there is one core element that must be present and this is self-love.

I would like to inspire you to get addicted to self-care. Make self-care a habit and part of your life. In a recent study from 2009, researchers found that on average it takes 66 days for a habit to become ingrained. Some habits may take a shorter amount of time and others may take much longer. The key to adopting new behaviors is to make them a routine and not go back to old behaviors. I want to challenge you to start a ritual of self care behaviors so that they become part of your everyday life. Remember, you are worth every single moment you spend on yourself!

Here are 3 steps to create a self care plan:

1. YOU are number one
The first thing you must realize is that you must be number one in your life. You must take care of yourself mentally and physically as well or better than you take care of anyone else. Imagine yourself in the driver’s seat of a very large car. In the car is everyone you care for in one capacity or another. In order to take care of everyone in that car it is imperative that you first take care of yourself. The journey of life is long and there will be many passengers on your journey. You cannot fall asleep at the steering wheel. You will need to be healthy and alert for whatever may appear on the road. Now take a moment and write down your needs. What are the habits you need to implement for you to perform at your optimum level?

2. Take an inventory of your physical health
Take a moment and have an honest conversation with yourself about your overall physical health. When was the last time you had a physical? A yearly physical check up is a must and a big part of your self-care. A doctors visit will assure you that everything is running correctly and that you are on the right path. Implement changes one at a time and if you happen to miss a day don’t give up! Remember it took a lifetime to create some of your behaviors so give yourself a break if you happen to stumble. Here are some ways to take care of your physical health. You may want to include some of your own.

a) Have a regular sleep routine

b) Eat a balanced diet as often as you can

c) Continue or start an exercise program

d) Take your lunch breaks
Leave your work station during you lunch break and take all your allotted time.

e) Use your sick and vacation days from work
Work will survive without you and I promise it will be there when you get back!

3. Mental health
A balanced mind and body are essential to good health. Many times we focus on our physical health and forget to check in on our minds. It is important for self care that we do not neglect how we are feeling. Some ways to do this are:

a) Be mindful of your stress-level
On a scale of one to ten how do you feel? Some of us have a higher tolerance than others. Respect how you feel and do not wait until you are at level 10 to take a step back. Decide ahead of time at what level it is time to take a break. Give yourself permission to disengage from what ever you are doing.

b) Talk
As a mental-health professional I am a huge believer in talk therapy. Whether you talk to a professional or a close friend it is important to talk. Talking is a great way to release any pent-up frustrations and get to the root of what is troubling you. Give your words and emotions flight. Don’t swallow your words to later choke on them.

c) Practice relaxation techniques
Whether its something as simple as a walk or something more complicated like playing an instrument. Do something that relaxes you.

d) Stay connected to family and friends

e) Have some quality time with yourself
It is imperative that you set aside time for yourself. You can decide realistically how much time you need for yourself and how often. Remember, if you do not replenish yourself you will not be able to take care of yourself much less anyone else.

I would love to know in what capacity are you a care taker and how do you take care of yourself?

If you found this post to be helpful or insightful please remember to like, comment and share.

Best wishes,
Eric


www.MakeItUltraPsychology.com
Specializing in a solution focused and results driven approach to psychotherapy


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36 responses to 3 Steps to Create a Self-Care Plan

  1. A wonderful reminder beautifully put. Self Care is truly a difficult practice to sustain. For me, music is my medicine whether it be singing (not sure I really can carry a tune), drumming, humming or playing the guitar. Recently, I’ve been focusing on tuning my heart.

    Another fabulous article Eric. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoyed reading this; confirmation. As the Executive Secretary for three divisions, mom of two adult children, and a household to take care all on my own, my days are quite full to say the least. After a 9-hr day job, I really have to find some time for self care; unwinding. Some of the ways are a hot bath/shower (depends on the day) with a relaxing lavender bath substance. Reading, journaling or writing my next story is another favorite. On weekends I make time for at least one movie at home, maybe reach out to friends via phone call or get together for coffee or a meal. And of course, there’s always that ever-relaxing pedicure! Ahhhhhh. 🙂 Sometimes it’s just spending quiet time; listen to what the soul has to say.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Maya Northen says:

    These (above) are all critical to my self-care plan. I also try to make sure I get enough alone time. As an introvert with social anxiety, I need it to refresh – I work at a front desk where I’m literally in front of people all day. Finding quiet time – weather it’s taking my lunch break to eat in our work garden by myself while at work, writing in my journal or doing yoga or meditating at home, or just spending some time on my own, the “alone time” where my body and brain can refresh a bit is so important to my self care.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Clara says:

    Seriously, I take a bath at any moment. I used to think it took a lot of planning and you had to find the candles, get everything in the house clean first, find the perfect candles, exact music, books-perfect, Etc and snacks. Then I found it is best sometime to just drop everything and as long as clean go away into different world- bath. at any moment.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. nshami14 says:

    I schedule regular monthly wellness days off and either go to the spa or spend time in nature on that day. I have done it pretty consistently for two years now and it seems to be my way of taking care of myself in a rather dysfunctional workplace. Also, yoga, meditation, acupuncture and water aerobics keep me sane and happy too!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. angharadeyre says:

    I’m really bad at setting aside time for myself or doing anything really fulfilling with the time when I get it. Possibly the best thing I’ve started doing for myself is taking 10 mins to meditate in the morning, and once a week going to a coffee shop before work to journal, blog and write. These comments have given me some great ideas for more things to try though!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like the idea of self care. I think for some people the concept of self-love is too hard to access because they don’t have very high self esteem but self care is something that might be easier to grasp. I just interviewed a coach yesterday who found self-love hard to access on her journey. I was thinking to myself maybe calling it “self care” might have made it easier and then I saw your post. Thanks for this. some good tips in here.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ink 'em Down says:

    Great article! As always, your posts are great to read, Eric, and so relevant and helpful!
    Two things in particular stood out for me: one, where you gave an example of ourselves being the driver in a huge car and we must take care of ourselves first in order to take care of the passengers (the people around us). And two, where you explained the importance of talking about our feelings. It really does help. I especially liked how you put it: ‘Give your words and emotions flight. Don’t swallow your words to later choke on them..’ Very true that!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Lorena says:

    Great reminder Eric thank you! I have a morning chanting practice that is like my reset button on my thoughts and emotions. It took over a year to make it as habitual as brushing my teeth, but once it was, it paid off exponentially. My ability to think more clearly and recenter when upset became much stronger. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was really something I needed to read and be reminded of right now. Thank you for sharing this in a language that was encouraging and simple but also very practical and easy to consider and put into place. When feeling so overwhelmed, self car feels very hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ana P. Rose says:

    Great post. It seems I’m on the right track for a few things. Only until recently though. I was too overwhelmed with a couple of things in life, such as family, friends, politics, career choice, financial troubles, but I finally decided to work on my mind and physical health. It’s work in progress, but I feel better. 👍 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ana P. Rose says:

    I forgot to mention, I am not a professional. So I am glad to read your post because it reaffirmed a couple of things, like working on the self, that I was wondering about. Plus, I learned something new overall. Thank you. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Suzanne says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been caring for my eighty-seven-year-old mother with multiple health problems and Dementia, and you provided some great points and tips. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I am a nurturer by birth .Born and bred to love .At the same time this has been my tragic downfall.I feel it’s easier to treat a loved one with more kindness than one would treat oneself .It is more natural for me to show love another than to cope with the lack thereof I have for myself.
    I am 19; second year Varsity student ,aspiring to be a clinical psychologist. My attempt as self care involves many of the things mentioned in this post .I believe in the balance between mind ,body and spirit .Meditation ,exercise ,trying to maintain a constant eating plan ,getting enough rest ect is all well and good .However disruptions in our daily lives is part of life and I often find myself lead astray from any kind of path to invest in self .It is much easier to invest in others .
    Your perspectives is enlightening .An instruction guide on how to love self is a must because there are people like me ;who find it less than natural to love themself.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Good advice! I was Mom’s memory, helper, and caretaker until she died. Even if loved ones are living in assisted living, where they get a great deal of care, children may also have to look over many aspects of their care and daily needs. I put myself second, which only created problems. I also put my job in too important a role. Now my biggest project is myself so that I can nurture well being and good health so as to be able to love better ultimately. I found I was battling depression when neglecting myself. Thank you for your articles!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. winknbees says:

    Writing and reading, remembering to eat and you sleep… still a work in progress. I at least can recognize when I am becoming slack now. Thank you for the reminder

    Liked by 2 people

  17. neakris29 says:

    Thank you. It makes me feel I little bit embarrassed, like I am not “normal”, but who is? With my ex I gave all the care I could, from cooking, cleaning, doing some of his errands and soothing him when he had a bad mood without much in return. There was no “me”. Only “we”. I don’t really complain at that time, but now he left, so I am completely empty and lost. I am good on a scale of physical care of myself, but mental need so much work to do, because stress level is overwhelming. Thank you for the information. I need to try harder

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I was a caregiver for a number of years and everything in the article is true, you can not be effective until you care of yourself. I made that a priority and I was able to care for my mother for over 10 years because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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