The definition of self-care is different from individual to individual. But what I’ve learned from my years working with midlife women is the word “self” triggers something in them and self-care turns into something that is associated with guilt, selfishness, or personal grooming actions like a message, pedicure, and facial (which by the way, I’m totally here for!)
However, I think it’s safe to say that over the last few years - self care is becoming more than just planned moments of fun and relaxation, self care is truly necessary and should be part of your overall health and wellness routine.
It’s about setting boundaries. It’s about saying no when it no longer serves you. It’s about prioritizing what’s really important. It’s about honoring one's values and lifestyle. It’s about knowing what’s best for YOU at the end of the day!
So let’s talk about how to create a self-care checklist that not only helps you manage stress and feel good, but also fills you up emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Remember, your idea of self care is based on your needs, so it’s not going to look the same as someone else’s - and that’s perfectly okay!
Start your list with items that fit your needs, your values, and your lifestyle.
If you don’t see yourself as a girl that enjoys getting monthly pedicures, then don’t list that! Your self-care plan won’t have much benefit if you don’t put it into action.
If you truly don’t see yourself sticking with something, remember: You have plenty of other options.
Don’t forget to address any financial concerns. If you honestly can’t afford to join the local Pilates studio, find an alternative that will work within your budget. Maybe purchase some equipment and do it at home instead. Yes, it won’t be exactly what the studio offers but putting yourself in a tight spot with your budget isn’t going to help decrease those stress levels either! Be smart!
And yes, there is such a thing as self-care burnout!
Overloading your schedule with activities meant to boost wellness can leave you feeling less than relaxed.
Frequency is important when it comes to self care. Don’t just turn to those things you enjoy when you are stressed, make them part of who you are. Regularly tending to your needs can help prevent you from reaching a point of high stress in the first place
Where to start when it comes to making a self-care checklist:
#1 Start with your physical needs. Physical self-care should include things that boost your overall health and wellness, things like:
Yearly check ups / Blood work
Nutrition / diet
Intentional Movement and schedule exercise
Sexual wellness / Relationships
#2 Mental needs that help energize your brain, keep you feeling on top of your game, and encourage creativity. Ways to incorporate self care that helps improve your mental health includes:
Finding ways to reduce stress
Setting healthy boundaries that protect your time and energy. (ie: saying no without explanation and clear communication are great places to start)
Learning something new / step out of your comfort zone
Reading for personal or professional development
Get a hobby that you enjoy and allows you to be creative (scrapbook, writing, painting, photography, music, dance)
Therapy / counseling are also great options
#3 Address your emotional needs. Feelings and emotions can provide clues about what’s missing in your life. Emotional self-care revolves around getting in touch with your feelings, learning to understand what they are saying, and using this information to improve your emotional health.
Try mindfulness / meditation
Pour into your friendships / relationships
Be affectionate with those that are special to you - affection can include spoken words, kind gestures, or physical touch.
Learn to enjoy being alone / having personal time
To help you stick with regular self care use a calendar to schedule it in, a digital reminder like an alarm on your phone to get in some small moments of self care throughout the day, or create a wellness calendar.
And remember, as you begin to make your self care checklist, keep in mind that your needs are going to change. What you considered self care in your 20s and 30s may not be something you’d be interested in in your 40s and 50s. Don’t be afraid to revisit your list often and allow it to evolve as you continue to evolve.
Making your self care a top priority not only provides you with long term, health benefits, it also benefits those around you!