Upgrade your Life with a Self-Care Plan

Alright friends...time to get honest with yourself.  How do you take care of yourself?  Do you start your day with a 3 mile run, eat organic, go to bed early, etc.?  Do you zen out in a yoga class when you're stressed, book a massage when you're tense, or call a friend when you're upset?

There are many ways to take care of ourselves, but most of us limit our thinking to just our physical being.  But, aren't we more than just our bodies?  What about all of the other parts of ourselves?

Self-care is a bit of a buzz word lately, but it can sometimes leave us scratching our heads wondering what it exactly means and how we do it.  From my perspective, @@self-care involves taking care of all of you - internal, external, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual@@.  

Yes, it’s working out and moving our bodies for optimal fitness, but it’s also quieting our minds, finding peace during our hectic days, turning our gaze inward to reflect on how the outer world is impacting us, and tuning into how we’re feeling about things.

Taking care of all of these aspects will allow us to live more in alignment with who we are, what we desire from life, and give our feelings more influence in our lives.

 

Self-Care:  What & Why

Before we dive into this topic in more detail, let’s start with the basics…what exactly is self-care and why it is important.

What is Self-Care

Self-care, at it’s most basic definition, is just what it sounds like…taking care of yourself.  If you stop and really think about that, “taking care of yourself” is a pretty broad term.  Most of us think of it in terms of eating right, going for a run, or getting a good night’s sleep.  Those are definitely part of it, but just a small part.  

As human beings, we’re a complex system of not only our physical form, but also our emotional and mental states.  Our external world and how we relate to it as well as how we relate to ourselves internally also define who we are.  Finally, for some, there is also the spiritual piece, which may be religious or have nothing to do with an organized belief system.  All of this affects our overall health, happiness, and how we show up in the world.

Making time to schedule our various doctor appointments (and actually go) is definitely part of a good self-care practice, but so is making time to engage in activities that challenge your mind, or setting aside time to retreat into your own space to clear your mind and bring it some peace.  Ridding yourself and your life from toxic relationships, jobs, or environments is just as important as ridding  your diet of unhealthy junk.  

Self-care is looking at all aspects of your life and evaluating what you need in order to feel whole, healthy, satisfied, and fulfilled.  I’d even take it a step further and say it’s creating an environment where you thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

Why is it Important

Self-care is important because when we limit our access to our best selves, we limit our abilities to live our lives to the fullest.  I don’t know about you, but the prospect of living a life that will leave me with a lot of regrets later in life is not how I want to spend my time.  Who wants to sign up for that?!

If we don’t get really comfortable with knowing ourselves in order to know what we need to do to fully take care of ourselves, we can’t make the time to create the foundation and environment we need in order to fully thrive.

Most of us sacrifice our own self-care because of other commitments (jobs, school, organizations etc), other people (children, spouse/partner, parents), or because we just don’t feel it’s worth the time.  Sometimes our limited self-care practice is simply because we don’t know ourselves well enough to know what we truly need.

Taking the time to craft a plan to fully take care of your needs is essential to your overall wellbeing, happiness, and ability to succeed.  In fact, call me crazy, but I believe it's just as important as creating a retirement plan or a home emergency plan.

 

Creating Your Own Self-Care Plan

I believe everyone should have a self-care plan.  Just like we create a financial plan to save money for a rainy day, we need a self-care plan to establish a way to show love to ourselves and to create the space that will allow us to feel our best, be our strongest, and create the life we want.

The key thing to keep in mind when it comes to establishing a self-care plan is the ‘self’ part…everybody’s self-care plan will look entirely different. 

As much as I’d like to package up a tried and true package for you, I can’t.  Everybody is different.  We have different needs, different ways of processing things, different reactions to different stimuli, etc.  What works for me, may or may not work for you.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to leave you hanging!!  I will give you some suggestions throughout this post to get you started so you can begin to brainstorm your plan!

 

What to Include in Your Self-Care Plan

When you are considering your self-care plan, you will want to consider all facets of your life.  You will also want to consider each area from a loving mindset.  The goal is not to establish a plan that feels punishing because that's what you think you should do or that's what your best friend does.  

This is about you and there is no right or wrong.  If it doesn't feel right, or you think you might dread something, don't put it on your plan.  Everything in your plan should feel motivating, inspiring, soothing, and, well...right.

Physical
Your physical self-care plan is probably what most of us think about when we think about taking care of ourselves.  This might include a healthy eating plan, a daily movement plan, a relaxation plan, and all of the adulting tasks like scheduling doctor appointments.  

When thinking of your physical care, approach this with love.  Telling yourself that you need to do a brutal cardio workout 6 days a week may be more punishment than care.  Maybe a gentle morning yoga flow is more appealing and restorative than a 5 mile all terrain run.  Go with what feels right, not what you think you should do.

Emotional
For your emotional wellbeing, consider what you need to release emotional baggage, reel in a strong sense of self-worth, and blossom within yourself.  

Having regular conversations with partners, family members or friends may be a boost for you.  Working on some self-reflection and turning inward allows you to get clear on where you are right now and assess where you want to go, along with what may be getting in your way.  Creating positive self-talk and/or establishing a daily mantra practice can do wonders for caring for your emotional wellbeing.  

Relationships with others may also be included in this category.  Consider how much time you need with others to feel connected, but don't forget to include restorative time alone to recharge your batteries.

Mental
Your mental wellbeing is somewhat tied to the emotional wellbeing.  Our thoughts and feelings typically work in tandem, so journaling, self-reflection, etc. all play into this category as well.  

However, don't underestimate the benefit of engaging in challenging activities to keep your mind sharp or trying new things to open up new mindsets.  Learning new things is a fabulous way to take care of yourself and grow from a mental perspective.

Spiritual
Regardless of your religious affiliation, I see this category as ways to deepen your connection with whatever higher power you align with that brings you insight and inner peace.  

For some people this may mean regular church attendance and time exploring their religion.  For others that may mean developing a meditation practice to start tuning into your own Inner Goddess and wisdom.  Maybe it's reading books about mindful living or volunteering with various church outreach programs.  

For some, you may not believe in any higher power, so this won't even be on your radar.  Whatever this means for you is perfectly okay.  Get curious with yourself and see what comes up.  Then consider how you may deepen your belief system to grow your inner peace and guidance.

 

Examples of My Self-Care Plan

My quest to establish my own self-care plan has been in the works for awhile.  The beauty of a self-care plan is that it's completely up to you and can change as often as needed!  

For me, I know I need alone time to recharge my introvert batteries, I need journaling and self-reflection time to turn inward and evaluate where I am, and I also need downtime to turn off my calendar and just be.  

I knew I wanted to spend some time really considering all areas of my life to craft a solid self-care plan, so during my month off in July, I did just that.

I spent the better part of one weekend really digging in, journaling, researching, and mindmapping to come up with my plan.  I filled pages in a notebook dedicated specifically to my mission and after 48 hours, I had a solid plan in place.

A few examples of what's on my plan...

Physical
I don't necessarily do all of these every single day, but I try to at least get one or two of these in most days.  I base my movement on how I'm feeling and what my body is craving.  A rough day at work might have me doing some kickboxing or something else more aggressive after work.  If I didn't get much sleep or had an exhausting day, I might be craving a long walk or a yoga/pilates mix after work.  Or, if I'm really not feeling it, I don't work out.

  • Stretching & ~30 minutes of Sun Salutations first thing in the morning
  • Get outside for a walk during lunch or a quick afternoon break from work
  • Cardio and/or weights afterwork
  • Monthly massages

As for eating, after participating in Rachel Cole's Feast program last year, I'm an intuitive eater and don't believe in restrictive diets.  So, again, I try to listen to my body as to what it needs.  I try to avoid excess sugar and aim to eat whole, healthy foods, but given my limited time, I'm not quite as successful at this as I'd like to be, but I don't sit around eating tons of junk food.  The processed stuff does not make me feel good!

Mental/Emotional
I love, love, love anything related to personal growth, self-development, and/or turning inward.  For me, this is the heart of my self-care plan.  I can leave out some of the other categories for awhile without feeling the impact, but just a few short days without something from this list and I feel it hard.

  • Journaling
  • Gratitude lists
  • Meditating
  • Tarot cards (for guidance, not predictions)
  • Reiki Sessions - as needed

I want to add a daily mantra practice to my plan, but so far, I haven't had a chance to sit down and really think that through.  Hopefully, I can get that set up soon!

Spiritual
I am not a religious person, so attending church is not on my self-care wellness plan. However, I wholeheartedly respect those that find peace and solace in regular church attendance.  

I do, however, believe in a higher power, and I love to tune into the wisdom within myself and the nudges from the "universe".  I'm definitely in the infancy stages of learning more about all of this so reading anything I can get my hands on regarding these topics are right up my alley.  Also, for me, the meditating, Reiki sessions, and journaling spill over into this category.

Nurturing Home Plan
I didn't include this one in the section above since this one is probably pretty specific to me and my needs (see...you can personalize this as much as you like!).  

I am inspired by my surroundings and I've been on a quest this year to really overhaul my home.  I want a peaceful, beautiful, inspiring home and I'm in the process of making that happen (last week, I had all of the yucky carpet and linoleum on my first floor ripped up and replaced with beautiful hardwood floors...I feel more inspired already!).

Aside from the aesthetics, I've been making the switch from chemical based cleaning products to more organic, natural products.  

I also feel it's important to engage all five senses throughout the home, so each room is getting small doses of ambience to make them much more sensual.  

It's a {slow} work in progress, but it's getting there!

 

A few gentle reminders

As you embark on your journey to create your own self-care plan, here are a few gentle reminders...

Take your Time
You might sit down and knock this out in a couple of hours, or it might take you a few days or weeks to come up with a plan that feels right for you.  That's okay!  There's no ideal time frame or deadline.  If it takes you longer than you expected, that doesn't mean anything other than you're giving it the proper time it needs.

Your Self-Care Plan is Organic
Once you establish your plan it will always change.  Life ebbs and flows and so will your self-care plan.  Where you are in life and what's going on around you will impact what you need to take care of yourself.  Sometimes you'll end up completely abandoning your plan when life gets a little crazy.  That's okay!  It'll be waiting for you to pick it back up when your body tells you it needs the attention.

Listen to Your Body
Your body knows best.  Your self-care plan is not punishment so listen if it tries to tell you something isn't work or doesn't feel right.  Focus on the 'care' in self-care and take care of yourself by listening to yourself.

Let Go of the Guilt
Let go of the guilt of spending time on yourself.  Self-care inherently means taking time for ourselves which is something a lot of women struggle with.  With all of their other demands, it's not uncommon to feel guilt for taking time for themselves (interestingly, men don’t tend to experience this as much as women).  

For the sake of your health and your relationships...let go of this guilt.  When you take the time for yourself to truly take care of yourself, you are able to give the best version of yourself to your family, friends, and job(s).  Don't squander the best you for the sake of doing everything for everybody else first.  They'll benefit even more by you taking time for yourself as needed.

Consider your Values
If you have done some value work in the past and know your core values, now is the time to pull those out and use them!  They may help you guide your plan so it aligns with what you need for your wellbeing.  

For example, if you have a strong value of connection, then you'll want to plan accordingly so you are meeting that need in your self-care plan.  Likewise, if education is a strong value for you, planning various options to learn something new on a regular basis will help to provide you with fulfillment and overall satisfaction.  

If you've never done any value work, and you're not sure what your are your core values, you might want to consider doing a little digging to narrow down your list.  In my Define your Mission eCourse, there's an entire lesson dedicated to identifying your values (and the ecourse is 100% free!)

 

Final Thoughts

@@Taking the time to craft a self-care plan is a valuable investment of your time.@@  It's honoring who you are, identifying what's important to you and what makes you feel good, and allowing you to care for all aspects of yourself so you can present the best version of yourself to world.  

It will allow you to be more present and mindful so each day is more intentional and meaningful.  It will allow you to know what is most important to you so you spend your time wisely by valuing your time and efforts.  Your respect for yourself will grow, your doubts on your abilities will diminish, and your overall confidence will start to shine through.  That's a win-win in my book!

Let me Help You!

If you need a little help in crafting your plan, or want to talk through doubts or guilt you may have around establishing your personal self-care plan, I'm here to help!  

What does your self-care plan look like these days? Does it need a little tweaking? What can I help you with?