This is part manifesto, part skills-training and part to-do list for feeling good and staying mentally well in 2018. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a starting point, and I’ve tried to include a few “less often shared” ideas for self-care. There’s also a free 18-page workbook available at the end of the post covering each step in more detail, with space to write your own answers in.
I know all of these things, but sometimes I forget about them.
And self-care sometimes feels like just another item on the to-do list.
The Self-Care Checklist
So, I thought I’d make a little list and figured, if I struggle to remember this, and I teach it; what are the chances you could do with a reminder too?
This checklist is designed to give you a little guidance for those moments when you don’t have a lot of energy or time, but want to make a tiny positive step to improve your day. Because baby steps add up.
Let’s do this.
Put On Your Signature Costume
No matter what we’re doing, feeling comfortable and “okay” about ourself really makes a difference to how we feel. Apply whatever armour will make you feel confident. For a lazy day, this is my jeans, tank top and all of my rings. For a work-day, it’s my favourite earrings, a really subtle bracelet I can play with, and a bit of eye-liner.
When we’re stressed or on autopilot, we tend to change our breathing. Try to breathe out slightly more than you breathe in, and as you exhale, relax your shoulders. Take a moment of space whenever you remember. Put a reminder on your phone if it will help.
The mindset of looking after ourself has a ripple effect on our mood and how the day feels. Make one ‘healthy’ choice. That could be drinking a few sips of water before lunch. Perhaps do 5 squats in the loo cubicle before you return to your desk at work. Maybe the above breathing technique is your small healthy step.
As humans, we thrive on a sense of progress. It doesn’t matter how big or small: just tick something off your list, or make some kind of progress towards a goal.
Wash up one cup. Send that email that’s worrying you. Take the rubbish bin out. Put the clean washing away in your bedroom. Then counting “putting it away in the wardrobe” as a second task: and a second tick.
Disconnection and Loneliness is killing us. Connect with anything and anyone. Pet the cat outside. Smile at the person walking past you. Text a friend “how’s it going?” Tell someone you really appreciate the help they gave you last week.
Or make a personal, inner connection, somehow. For some, prayer is an option. For others, stand barefoot in the grass outside. Hug a tree. Care for something: water a plant.
We all want to feel seen and recognised. Label the thoughts and feelings in your own mind to help soften their shouts.
“This is fear. I’m worried about paying my bills this month. I feel tearful.”
This won’t make the worries go away, but that sense of “Hi brain, I hear you. thanks for letting me know. I’m working on that” can sometimes take some of the pressure off those negative thoughts.
Sound a bit weird to you? Try it. What have you got to lose?
Equally, distracting yourself from those thoughts can be healthy in small doses. Dance, run, watch a comedy DVD or name 5 things you can currently see which are blue. Take a break from your thoughts: they’ll still be there when you get back.
Again, we’re looking at that sense of progress. We thrive on growth, on learning, on understanding.
I grew up with this quote by Gail Sheeny taped to my ceiling:
If we don’t change, we don’t grow.
If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.
In this modern day, we spend so much time going through the motions: we exist rather than experience.
So this step focused on re-connecting with who you are and that feeling of being alive. For you it might be volunteering or donating to charity. It might be listening to classic audiobooks. Watching war films.
Maybe one of the earlier tips automatically ticks this off: I love dancing to violin music, standing with bare feet in my back lawn and reading autobiographies. They connect me to other humans, to the world around me and remind me how it is to feel alive.
TA DA! List
A fantastic tip I first saw from Ellie Di Julio, rather than a list of pressures you have to do today, reflect on what you accomplished. What’s on your “ta-da!” list today?
Finally, one of the key issues with making changes is that lack of motivation. One of my favourite ways to combat this, is to find a “big why,” to identify a quest or value that will motivate me whatever the weather. What’s your personal quest? What are you here to do; what’s your legacy?
Will you Prioritise Self-Care this Year?
Again, this is not an exhaustive list. But it does give us a few things to think about. Baby steps add up, and some only take a few moments each day. And in time, that effect is cumulative.
Download the free workbook with space to write in your own answers to these wellbeing ideas? Grab the free mapping bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to grab yourself a copy of the 2018 Resilience Check-list as part of my resilience bundle about energy and motivation!