8 Simple Steps to Long-term Self-Care

Who will benefit from this article: Social workers, health care professionals, those in ministry, those in a job they don’t like, those in a demanding job, students, stay at home moms or dads, travelers, the “I’m trying to figure out my life”, retirees with too much time, those in recovery, those using oxygen as a source of air….okay, you get the point, basically every one. 

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Burn-out, depression, anxiety, hating my job, bad days, sleeping through my alarm…these are all very real things. Things I have experienced and I am prone to experiencing again…at least as long as I’m human. If I become a robot or cyborg later in life, maybe these things will cease to happen to me. One can only dream.

But on the off chance that I, and the rest of the human race, are not replaced with machine parts and advanced technology, we are bound to have another crappy day followed by more crappy days. SO HOW do we stay sane, when we can’t change our circumstances…when clients will still yell at us, families are dysfunctional, when we can’t quit our jobs, and relationships are hard.

The answer: Self-Care.

That’s right…self-care. I can hear all you arguing with me in your heads right now. You’re like…..”NO, community is how you stay sane…vacations…time alone…working out…praying” You know what all of those are?? Self-care. Yeah.

When I was 21, I started my first big-girl internship at the Denver Rescue Mission. I had this bomb-awesome supervisor who told me I needed to create a self-care for this internship and then follow it. Having never made a self-care plan before…nor having ever heard of a self-care plan, I was a little lost to say the least. She gave me some parameters that I still use to this day. Every new job or change in role that I have in life, I create a self-care plan. Every person I hire/supervise, I ask them to create a self-care plan…and we review it on a regular basis. AND… now I am making a self-care plan for my non-work life, because I’m learning that self-care can’t stop when I get home, especially when I am going through a hard time.

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Here are 8 simple steps for creating your very own Self-Care Plan: 

 

  1. Make time to create a self-care plan: This can some times be the hardest part of all. Find time for you to sit down and create your own self-care plan.
  2. Make it realistic: If you know that you won’t work out every day in the week, then don’t put it down. If 3 days a week is a realistic target…then aim for that.
  3. Make it measurable: ‘Eat healthy’ is not a measurable goal. What does that even mean and how will you know when you meet that goal?? Instead, eat 3 meals a day, always eat breakfast, take my lunch breaks daily, etc. Things that you can measure and know they were accomplished.
  4. Include all areas of your life: What do you love? What do you already do? What keeps you sane? For me…I need to be reading or creating, so I include that in my self-care plan. I need to be outside, so I include that as well. Self-care isn’t about doing things right, it is about making time and recognizing what keeps you sane and then making it a priority.
  5. Split it into categories…thinking of the whole self: Spiritual, physical, emotional, community, etc. What categories in your life are important?
  6. Put it in a format you like:  write it out, type it, paint it, draw it,  cut out magazine letters and glue them on a sheet of paper (yikes!). Put it in a format that is accessible and fits you.
  7. Post it and Share it: Post it somewhere you can see it so you are reminded. Mine is on my cork board by my desk. And then share it with someone you trust, who will ask you about it.
  8. Follow your self-care plan: To the best of your ability…and be gracious on yourself when you don’t. .

If you do this…you will never be stressed or cry or have any problems. Jokes. You will totally still do all those things, but you will have a plan, you will have tools to pull you through, and you will take care of yourself in spite of the snot and salty tears covering your face.

Try it, I dare you.

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Non-Resolutions… Dream Bigger

new yearsI keep getting asked about my New Year’s Resolutions. Then I keep thinking about my “resolutions” and the more I think, the more lame my ideas become. I already try to have a healthy lifestyle and practice self-care. Putting more pressure on myself to do these things better will inevitably just piss me off…because well…I’m already trying best I can.

So I’m watching this super-intellectual movie, ‘New Year’s Eve’, and there was a quote “What would I do today if I knew I could not fail?” And for all the cheesiness and corniness of the movie, I really liked this question.

Instead of what am I going to resolve to do this year….what I am going to attempt this year without the fear of failure. Because well that’s the crux right??? We all dream small for the next year and inevitably forget about our resolution by month 3. Mostly because it isn’t something that causes real change, or because our heart is not invested so we don’t even notice it passing us by. Dream small, miss small.

How often do we dream big…and actually face the disappointment of failed dreams? Dream and speak those things that might hurt us to try…but hurt us more to never attempt. What if the journey is about the attempt regardless of the failure or damning consequences.

So here is my dream list of 2016…my 2016 bucket list…my “I might fail, but why not try” list. The list of childish, grown-up ideas. Ideas that may require the help of others to come true. Ideas that are in my brain and now I have decided to share.

  1. Make something and then try to sell it…and actually have someone buy it.
  2. Move out of Washington
  3. Make 1 piece of clothing that I’m not embarrassed to wear. Or if I am embarrassed to wear…wear anyway, what do I have to prove?
  4. Visit another country (Mexico and Canada don’t count).
  5. Fly first class and drink the entire flight.
  6. Have an all girls camping trip and love every moment.
  7. Adopt a second dog.
  8. Start to write a book…even just a chapter will do.
  9. Host a murder mystery party and not be the murderer.
  10. Take a train ride to anywhere.
  11. Learn something completely new. Preferably something I am horrible at so I can be challenged.
  12. Find a dish with peanut butter that I actually like. I dare someone to accept this challenge.
  13. Summit Mt. St. Helens
  14. Begin some sort of work from home…free-lance, independent, part-time. something.
  15. Be around for the birth of a child.
  16. Grow in my understanding of Jesus’ love for me and how that impacts the way I live and love.
  17. Get a state of Ohio tattoo.
  18. Be part of a miracle…or miracle/redemption story.
  19. Read 48 books.
  20. Dance a night away. dance party, line dancing, etc. If I am not sweaty and tired by the end of it…it doesn’t count.
  21. Live a vulnerable life regardless of the consequences.

Ready? Set? GO!