Four Elements to Create a Self Care Plan
We all likely have a good idea of how we can take care of someone who is in need. Imagine that your best friend has gone through a tough time and they’re not feeling so great. You know something that cheers them up is a visit from a pal and their favourite sweet treat chocolate bar. Without hesitation, you show up, treat in hand, and comfort them.
What do we do, however, if it’s ourself who is in need of some care? It may not seem so simple because we are the person who simultaneously is in need of caring and who needs to provide the care. Perhaps you’ve read online that taking a bath is the ultimate way to show yourself some TLC but that didn’t seem to do the trick when you tried it.
“Different strokes for different folks.”
Just like this time old saying, the way we should care for ourselves will be dependent on what we see value in - which may be different than what we’ve heard works well for someone else. Developing a system that we feel cozy in can take some time and some trial and error as we find out what works just right.
There are a few key things to keep in mind while in the process of creating a self-care plan that fits you and serves its intended purpose.
First: keep a conscious mind. Be aware of what you do, why you’re doing it, how it feels, and what the outcome is from doing it. This is where you will learn what you value. It can be easy to slip into an autopilot state of mind where we unconsciously do things (some of which are good, others not so much) in an attempt to self-soothe. It’s important to pay close attention to ourselves in these moments. What are the things that bring you calmness or happiness? Why did it soothe you? What was the outcome overall from doing it? These activities will look different for everyone.
Second: once you know what you value (what makes you feel good), you need to actively plan to do it. When you actively plan to do your self care activity as opposed to simply letting it happen, it shows to yourself that it’s important and should be treated as such. For example, maybe you enjoy going for a walk and listening to music. You can plan to do that by including it in your schedule (daily, weekly, etc) instead of approaching it with the idea that ‘you’ll do it if you have time.’ Remember: you’re important and deserve to schedule in things that make you feel as such.
Third: be patient with the process. It may take time to find a rhythm and a routine that works for you. That’s perfectly okay.
Fourth: you don’t have to wait until you’re in an upset mood to do your self care activities. It’s important for you to take care of yourself always, not only on the bad days. Be sure to make time for yourself just because! In doing so, you show yourself respect and kindness, which will only benefit you.
Similar to how it takes time and effort to figure out how to show genuine care to someone you know, it also takes time and effort to learn how to care for yourself. Being purposeful in doing so, however, can help in the process of creating a self care plan that works well for you. Consciously tuning into activities or things that have that feel good quality and actively deciding to pursue them takes practice. Be patient with yourself on the journey. Self care is a ritual to partake in.