In the UK, May 13-19 is Mental Health Awareness Week. I was working on this check-list already, and this ‘perfect time to share’ pushed me to finish it.
All the details below are included as an introduction to the check-list. The main 66-item list itself is in the pdf below: Click the bottom of the post to download it: no sign up or weird stuff required.
Will This Help You?
Ever feel like a plant, in need of “how to take care of me” instructions? When we find ways to do better self-care, we won’t shrivel up like a plant with no water.
I’ve compiled it for Mental Health Awareness Week, but these are useful every day, all year round. I use my self-care plan at least twice a week to manage my daily stress.
This is for you if you’re seeking tips to take care of yourself, or instructions for your self-care, because we humans are not much different from a pet or plant.
Self-care has grown this interesting definition of being a full day at a spa or spending lots of money. However, self-care is pretty much what it says on the tin.
It’s caring for yourself. Radical, I know.
To me, it’s meeting your basic needs (food, water, sleep), and re-filling your energy so that you can do it again later.
When thinking about a self-care plan, it’s about finding the things that help you relax, unwind and forget about the world for a while. Not avoiding, but just resting for a while.
Self-care looks different for everyone. And sometimes self-care is just sitting and doing nothing for a while. If you don’t have the energy to do anything, be mindful of that and allow it to happen.
These days, we’re often so preoccupied with the idea of always having to be busy, that we must always be doing things. But that’s not healthy and it’s also not necessary.
Something To Remember
By looking after yourself, you are helping others. If you are one of those people who feels you need to always put others first, to the point that you burn out… Don’t skip this section. It’s crucial.
Giving others the best version of you, with energy, focus and attention is so much more supportive and useful to those around us than if we are exhausted, moody or distracted.
Refilling your well will allow you to have something left in your tank to give to others.
Empty watering cans do not help thirsty plants as well as half-full ones.
Taking care of yourself will allow you to take better care of your friends and family, by allowing you to be actively involved in their life. Okay? Okay.
The Immediate Check-In
(1) Connect with each sense:
SMELL: Put on perfume, a scented candle or fresh clothes. Sniff your pot of mixed herbs from the kitchen cabinet if needed. Find a positive smell.
SIGHT: Find a pretty picture, view from a window, or google one of those videos of peaceful nature scenes.
HEARING: Whale music, birdsong tracks, a laughing baby, your favourite song, a comedy DVD… whatever connects with positivity or calm for you.
TASTE: Drink some water, tea, coffee or brush your teeth. Have a piece of chocolate or a slice of cucumber.
TOUCH: What do you like to feel in your hands? I stroke my cat, hold a hot water bottle, or rest my hands in a basin of lukewarm water for a few minutes. I have fidget toys like the Tangle and bracelets I can twiddle with the beads of.
(2) Check in with your body, using the check-in questions below.
- Have you eaten in the last four hours?
- Have you taken any medication you need to take?
- Drink a glass of whatever liquid you like best.
- Can you take a guess at how many hours you’ve slept out of the last 24?
- Are you in physical pain?
- Is something about your environment distressing or uncomfortable?
- Does your body feel uncomfortable, sweaty, or dirty?
- Do you know why you’re in a bad mood, or not feeling well emotionally? (Remember, any answer is okay!)
- Are you feeling lonely or in need of attention?
(3) At the end of a check-in, take half an hour and do whatever you want to do right now. This can be anything: crafts, watching TV, lying on the couch, taking a walk, playing a game… your choices are endless!
(4) Once you’ve taken care of the immediate moment, it’s time to plan for a more long-term solution. Let’s begin.
Craft Your Personal Self-care Plan
Below are 66 items to consider for your own self-care plan, just to get your thoughts going. This is not an endless list, and I’ve categorised it in ways that made sense to me, to reduce overwhelm.
However, you can use this however works best for you. Cross and tick things, colour code the items, or cross things off and write new ones.
From this list and your own ideas, pick 5-7 small things you can do on hard days to help manage, and 7-9 things to schedule in each month to keep yourself in the space of self-care.
As always, this is just how I use the list, and you can try things until you find what works for you.
If you find the download helpful, please share it with others, and check out my other resources.