What is a Self-Care Plan and Why You Should Create One
With a growing focus on mental health in the public sphere, you’ve likely encountered references to individuals creating a “self-care plan.” A self-care plan is a coping mechanism that keeps you from being overwhelmed by life’s sometimes chaotic nature. It’s also a proactive measure that you design. It’s filled with activities that bring you joy, reminders of your self-worth, as well as ways to tap into your support network. Below are three reasons why investing in a self-care plan ahead of time is essential:
1) A customized self-care plan is empowering. Take some time to look within first; you’ll know what things in life bring on stress and what things make it melt away. Through this self-reflection, you’ll have the foundations for developing your self-care plan and having it written down offers a safety net for the moments when you need it most.
2) Self-care plans help you respond, not react in moments of crisis. In terms of mindfulness, a self-care plan allows you to respond to situations versus simply reacting. Creating a plan ahead of time, therefore, empowers you to feel more in control of your life and avoid becoming overwhelmed by it. Likewise, you’ll be in a better position to know what type of outside help you might need and where to go for it.
3) Developing a plan helps keep you on track. A tangible, clearly laid-out strategy keeps you accountable and motivated to build new, positive routines. Knowing what you need to do when things get tough should also prevent you from making excuses and defaulting to old habits.
How to Create Your Self-Plan
Now that you better understand the importance of creating a self-care plan, it’s time to bring your own to life. Remember: this is a course of action that you take everywhere and seeks to balance your physical and emotional needs. The plan can also include resources that you can rely on and reminders about your personal goals.
Build your self-care plan by following these steps:
Step 1: Write down an activity list that shows the different components of your life. To get you started, here are a few example areas to focus on:
- Your day job
- Your relationships: romantic, platonic, family, community
- Your physical activity
- Your internal thoughts
When this list is complete, you’ll want to add activities that you enjoy, bring happiness, and wellbeing to each space in your life. Sample activities include downloading a meditation app for your phone, meal prepping, keeping a gratitude journal, working with a therapist, or scheduling recurring acupuncture sessions.
Step 2: Write down the things that might get in your way. Afterward, devote some time to figuring out potential ways to address these barriers positively. An example would be if you’re in the habit of negative self-talk, take 5 minutes each morning to write down 3 good things about yourself. Over time these “shifts” in thinking and action will build to even larger life changes and you being well-suited to handle future stressful situations.
Step 3: Share your plan with your support network. Once your self-care plan is complete, send a copy to the people you trust most and are willing to help keep you accountable. You may also want to encourage these individuals to develop their own and share them with you.
Sticking to Your Self-Care Plan
For your self-care plan to be successful, you’ll need to commit to regularly acting on it. We know this is easier said than done, but we encourage you to be empathetic towards yourself and give yourself time to build new habits. Yes, there’ll likely be times where you slip back into past responses; this is okay and natural. When these moments do arise, be kind to yourself and use it as a chance to refocus.
Here are a few ways you can set yourself up for success when implementing a self-care plan:
- Set daily reminders on your phone to do something that brings you joy
- Meet up regularly with your accountability partner
- Bring your plan to life through drawings, photo collages, or another visual medium
- Schedule recurring appointments that contribute to your well-being, such as acupuncture or gym workouts
- When you do falter, take a moment to reset with 5 deep breaths and visualizing your best self
- Reward yourself when you’ve stuck to a part of your plan for a certain number of days, weeks, months, etc.