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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