5 steps to self-care
It's important to show compassion and kindness for others, but how often do we treat ourselves with that same level of compassion or kindness? That inner voice will probably be the most important voice you will ever hear, and it needs to be nice!
For some people, adding self-care into a daily regimen can seem inconvenient or time-consuming. You may say “I don’t have time for that”, or “I have too many other things to do”, but repeatedly putting the needs of others before our own can lead to a lack of “me time”, which can, in turn, create stress and resentment and prevent us from being our best selves.
Research has shown that adding self-care into one’s daily routine reduces stress, decreases the chance of mental and physical ailment, increases productivity, and inspires feelings of happiness. By giving ourselves a daily dose of compassion and kindness, we’re able to approach our work and relationships with a clear, happy mind, thus allowing the cycle of positivity to continue.
But how do you do that when it feels alien to do so? Where do you start?
Here are a few steps to help you on your way, and remember, like any new skill, it takes regular practice to create a new habit.
Step 1: Understand what self-care is
If you don’t understand what self-care is, then there’s no way for you to develop a new habit. Self-care is any activity that is done with the sole intention to take care of our own mental, emotional and physical health. Self-care is a way of giving back to ourselves in the form of doing activities that fuel us and that are just for us and not for anybody else.
Step 2: Assess what your self-care already is
Now it’s time to evaluate your self-care at the current moment, you can use my Coaching Wheel to assist you. Create a self-care assessment to highlight the positive things that you are already doing for yourself, along with any areas where you may be lacking. Start by choosing two of the eight dimensions of well-being, then as you become more competent you can look further into these: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual.
Step 3: Find where you could do better and create a self-care plan
After evaluating your current self-care, did you notice any aspects where you could do better? Maybe you are doing great when it comes to your occupational well-being — your career is great, and maybe the financial sides of things too, e.g. paying your bills on time, etc. — but you seem to be forgoing your physical well-being.
Create your self-care plan by setting goals to improve in these areas.
Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely that we can accomplish.
Step 4: Hold yourself accountable to these goals
Once you’ve set your plan in motion, the next step is to hold yourself accountable by measuring your success. For example, you can buy a physical calendar and give yourself a gold star every night you manage to sleep seven hours, or set yourself a goal to meditate/exercise for a set duration per day/week.
Then, pick a date in the future and say, “I’m going to sleep seven hours a day until X date”. Try it out for 7 days, 30 days, 60 days, or whatever you think is achievable for yourself.
Step 5: Decide a follow up date at a future point and stick to it
When that date arrives, it’s time to revisit your goal. This is the most important step in your self-care plan because this is where you can see whether you have achieved what you set out to do, or if you need to make some adjustments. It’s a time for reflection.
Ask yourself “How am I doing?”. If your goal of sleeping seven hours each night has become a habit, you can set a new plan in place to reach a different goal.
Maybe you saw a need for improvement in your social well-being dimension when you took your self-care assessment, and you want to now focus on setting up a coffee date with a friend every week.
The idea is that your self-care plan is always evolving; it’s ever changing, and sometimes we try a self-care plan and it doesn’t work for us — and that’s OK — but we find something else that does. If your plan hasn’t gone accordingly then ask what has got in the way and make the necessary adjustments. There is no such thing as failure - only feedback.