A solid self-care checklist will reflect your specific needs, habits, and time considerations. It might take a little effort to develop, but you’ll probably find this investment entirely worth it in the long run.”– Crystal Raypole
What is your first thought when you hear the word self-care?
Maybe it’s warm bath, fitness, nutrition, listening to music, boundaries, or avoiding overwhelm. What comes to your mind? Write it down – you may want to check it out later to see if your understanding of self-care has evolved after you are done reading this article.
Great! Now, let’s look closer at self-care from the standpoint of someone who grew up in an abusive home, someone like you and me.
Why Is Self-Care Important?
It took me a few decades to understand what self-care was about and why I should practice it. You too?
It’s understandable in the light of our family history.
Growing up in emotionally abusive homes, we learned how to take care of our parent(s) and their needs, and they also taught us to forget our own.
What happened then?
Let me guess—you kept doing that long into your adult life, taking care of everyone else but you. Until someday, you probably realized that prioritizing everyone’s needs ahead of your own is unhealthy, to say the least. It may even be self-destructive in the long run.
Are you this far? Great! Then you probably already know that self-care is vital for your health and wellbeing. And if you don’t thrive, you can only do so much for others, if anything at all.
You’ve probably learned that taking care of your body by giving it the proper nutrients and supplements, getting off the chair and moving around, and getting enough sleep makes you feel better. And not just in your body.
But did you know that self-care is not just about your body, but your physical health also covers your mental health, emotional wellbeing, and spirituality?
So, how do we take care of ourselves, improve our wellbeing and feel great?
What Self-Care Is About
Self-care is about meeting your needs – those you learned not to mention and not to notice. And this can be tricky, especially for an adult who grew up in an abusive environment. Therefore, your first step is to figure out what your needs are.
So, how do you clarify what you need?
One way of doing it is to answer a question: What makes you feel frustrated or unhappy?
For example, you have too much on your plate, feeling stressed and exhausted most of the time. It means you need more time for yourself to wind down and relax. Or you feel anxious and restless, can’t think straight, and stay focused. You need to lower your anxiety and de-stress. If you feel absorbed by hopelessness and lack of energy, you need to strengthen your spirit.
Only when you know what’s missing from your life can you move to the next step and figure out what you can do to get what you need.
In the aftermath of the Christmas holidays, I confess I was triggered by certain behaviors of others. It was like throwing wood to a fire of pre-existing anger I felt throughout this past year, and it made me realize that my self-care needs an upgrade – too many stress hormones in the blood are not healthy, as we know.
I’ve never had any self-care lists in my life before, but I decided to give it a try. I hope it will provide you with a few ideas on how to improve your wellbeing through better self-care.
Here we go.
My Self-Care List 2022
Please remember, this is my list. Read it through and get inspired to create your own list using mine as examples. Notice that yours may look very different due to other needs.
- Keep walking once a day to get fresh air and move the body.
- Start dancing following online videos. Latino music and moves are such fun, and I need more fun in my everyday life.
- Practice a more mindful approach to nutrition to take care of my gut and digestive problems and to feel better.
- Make and follow daily plans to add structure, avoid overwhelm, and fairly divide my time between work, family, and myself.
- Say no more often and don’t overcomplicate things to reduce stress. Keep everything simple.
- Mindfully prepare my home for visitors to avoid frustration during their stay, for example, take away private objects I don’t want people to use.
- Communicate my needs directly but kindly to further improve my boundaries: “Please, wash your hands.”
- Reduce time watching Netflix to once-twice a week to free more time for reading and enjoying meaningful content.
- Limit time spent on reading news to weekly updates to regain inner peace.
- Spend more time with people I love and care about, even if only online. People who interest me, with whom I can have a meaningful discussion, and learn from and grow.
- Find new business projects to bring more joy and satisfaction to my life.
- Improve my concentration (find exercises) to spend less time doing things and minimize time spent on sedentary activities.
- Make new meaningful connections with like-minded people in my community.
- Keep working on mindful awareness using guided meditation to be better at staying present in difficult situations.
- Prepare for challenging days – imagine situations that might occur and how to respond to them, so I minimize spacing out, and so I stay present and aware.
- Try a new approach (possibly therapy) for dissociation to feel fully alive again. (Last year, I tried neurofeedback; that didn’t help.)
- Face painful feelings to avoid accumulating them or turning them into anger or depression. I need to improve my ability to self-regulate.
- Keep a journal and make entrances a minimum once a week, on Sundays, to record past events to reflect on.
- Forgive myself for making new mistakes. I need kindness, not more self-criticism.
- Forgive myself for disconnecting with certain people to stay in a supportive environment.
- Start traveling again to break isolation and regain a feeling of freedom.
- Don’t allow people to confuse and manipulate me – keep focusing on what I know is true.
- Try a coloring book for adults to calm down and help resolve anger.
- Keep reading fiction books – a habit I resumed last year and have enjoyed since. Books are the food for my soul.
- Please notice that I chose to leave this list long to give you as many examples as possible, but I will have to shorten it to make it doable. And so should you.
Self-Care Is Not Rocket Science
Self-care can be learned. But there are a few things you ought to remember.
If you are writing a self-care list, it means you want to do something new that is good for you. In this case, you probably will have to stop doing something else that doesn’t benefit your wellbeing, things you usually do out of habit. And changing habits takes time and determination. Below are a few tips on how to make your new habits stick.
First of all, choose activities that are as simple as possible.
Then, make sure that doing things from your list will bring you joy. 😃 Because we both know that you will never practice something you hate. So, ask yourself this question: Will I enjoy using this approach? Can I envision myself doing this?
Choose things that are easy to do and that can be done immediately.
Furthermore, check if you can financially sustain your plan. Because an expensive membership program, spa resort, or holidays in Japan (unless you live there) may put a strain on your budget and ruin your self-care plan by adding unnecessary stress. Make sure you can afford everything on your list.
Edit your plan, and be realistic about the time you will have to spend attending to your needs and the level of mental energy you have. Taking too many commitments may be the perfect way to burnout.
And the last thing is to make sure that your list of new self-care habits fits with your current schedule.
What is your list?
Feel free to share in the comments below or directly email them to Irina.
- A self-care plan means you want to start doing something new that is good for your mental, emotional, and physical heath.
- Self-care can be learned.
- Make sure you know your needs, and then make a self-care list.
- Remember to keep it doable and enjoyable.
- Check out your list with regard to time, money, physical capacity, mental energy, and the fit with your current schedule.