If I were to ask 10 people what their definition of ‘Self-Care’ is, then I would almost certainly receive 10 different answers. This is not a bad thing… it simply reflects the multitude of ways we can approach this activity.
Most of us would agree that we need to adopt habits that are healthy for our minds and bodies. The important thing is to discipline ourselves to make time in our busy lives to do some of these things.
This Daily Self Care Checklist is simply a way to stimulate some ideas and hopefully motivate you to adopt some aspects of Self-Care into your daily routine. I have also split this checklist into 3 areas (Physical, Mental and Spiritual) so that you will consider a more balanced approach when creating your own personal list.
Please remember that self-care is not meant to be a ‘fix-it’ plan for whatever stress we may be experiencing, but rather a way we can create the right behaviors to maintain our own positive well-being.
Daily Physical Self-Care.
Lets start with the fundamentals.
1. Eat healthy food. For example with your evening meal, there are so many quick and simple recipes where you can create a healthy meal. Try to limit the processed ‘fast food’ to an occasional treat!
2. Get plenty of sleep. Don’t spend your life in a sleep-deprived foggy state! Try preparing things the night before so that you can wake and begin the day in a calm state of mind, rather than feeling rushed.
3. Be aware of the amount of alcohol or other substances you may take. Try to limit your intake, or even better, find substitutes. For example, alternate your daily coffee with herbal teas.
4. Work out or do some light exercises. Even a brisk 30-minute walk each day will get your heart rate up and your blood circulating. Combine this with some deep breathing exercises and in time you will feel yourself becoming more alert and able to handle life’s daily challenges more easily.
5. Get a massage. Try some gentle stretching exercises. You may even want to try acupuncture! Work on releasing the physical manifestations of tension.
6. Take a nap. You don’t need to fall asleep. Even 10-20 minutes of complete relaxation can reduce your sleep debt and help you to cope better.
7. Give your body some mindful attention using the body scanning technique discussed in this article: Mindfulness Activities For Adults
Daily Mental Self-Care.
Having a mental self-care checklist is also so important because it covers more that one facet of our being. There are emotional, social and intellectual parts to our mental state that require equal care and attention.
1. Monitor and manage your levels of emotional stress by learning some relaxation and breathing techniques. You may also want to combine this with either exercise or yoga for even more positive results.
2. Emotional self-care can be simply about allowing yourself to feel your emotions. This means identifying and accepting them for what they are without being judgmental.
3. Recite positive affirmations.
4. Have a 3 minute mini-mindfulness session every day. Spend 1 minute being aware of your thoughts, feelings and sensations; 1 minute focused on your breathing and 1 minute of awareness of your whole body.
5. Pay complete attention to everything around you. If you commute to work on public transport in the mornings, it’s the perfect time to do this exercise. While everyone else is staring at his or her phones, put yours away and practice observing the details of life around you.
6. Make time to play. Allow the child in you to come out for a while and play. Just follow your whim and have fun. This is how our creativity is nourished!
7. Challenge your comfort zone. Do something that stretches your abilities but gives you a new sense of achievement… no matter how small.
8. Change a habit. Pick something that you do in a routine way and deliberately change the routine.
9. Go off the grid for an hour. This is a big one. Give your mind a break from the constant barrage of social media updates and emails. Allow your mind to wander in peaceful contemplation at least once a day.
10. Connect with others. Meet up with a friend, family member or colleague. Go to an event together. Close personal relationships are especially important to your social part of self-care.
11. Make time for activities that you enjoy. Whether its playing a sport or walking your pet in the park, you need routines that give you a real break from your work life.
12. Intellectual self-care is really about exercising our mind in stimulating and creative ways. We need more than just random social media forms of entertainment to keep our minds sharp and thinking critically. Think of it as health food for the mind!
13. Be creative. Start a project using your hands. Learn to craft, draw or play a musical instrument.
14. Take on a part time course. Something that you have always wanted to do, but never found the right time to start. Learning a new skill and the sense of achievement that comes with it can have tremendous effect on your overall well-being.
Daily Spiritual Self-Care.
In a non-religious context, Spiritual self-care is really all about nurturing the well-being of our spirit. It’s connecting with what really matters to you; including your core values and beliefs.
1. Treat others with compassion. This does not mean that you should be a pushover. Just make sure that you practice interacting with others in a loving way. This is the good Karma that you give out that will come back to enrich your life too.
2. Practice meditation. We do this so that we can disconnect from our day and tune into our feelings and ‘connect’ with our inner being. If you are fortunate enough to live near nature, then experiencing that can enhance your meditative experience.
3. Create a sense of higher purpose. Allow yourself to contemplate your purpose for living. It’s a big question, but something that we need to think about. The subtext of this is all about knowing whether we are going in the right direction in life. Ie: Are we moving towards our life purpose or moving further from it..
4. Read an uplifting book. Literature that is positive and uplifting can literally touch the human soul. It can also assist us to more easily understand and empathize with others.
5. Set Boundaries. As an exercise, think about the areas of your life that need a ‘reset’. It could be that there are people in your life that don’t add value to you in a positive sense. Its then that we need to create some boundaries around what you will or wont get involved with. If that ruffles other people’s feathers, so be it.
6. Letting go. Many people find it very hard to let go; whether that be a material thing or another person. But often, it’s the act of ‘letting go’ that releases us to move forward with our lives. Letting go can be as simple as opening ourselves to the guidance of a higher power.
With a little bit of attention to your own self-care you will feel more connected to yourself and the world around you. Think of it as small steps that will keep you grounded and focused on what is really important in your life.
What will be on your Daily Self-Care Checklist?