May 28, 2020
When stress is at its worst, hobbies, relationships, and free time are neglected. As a result, stress worsens. This creates a cycle where self-care is neglected, and stress grows.
“Self-care” refers to your favorite activities that help you relax, have fun, or feel energized. These could include talking with a friend, going for a walk, reading, listening to music, or whatever else you enjoy. The important part of self-care is not so much what you do—it’s just that you do it.
To start, the Self-Care Assessment can be used to explore current self-care habits while giving ideas of where self-care can be improved:
Self-Care Assessment worksheet (Ctrl and click on link to get worksheet)
- Self-care means taking time to do things you enjoy. Usually, self-care involves everyday activities that you find relaxing, fun, or energizing. These activities could be as simple as reading a book, or as big as taking a vacation.
- Self-care also means taking care of yourself. This means eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, caring for personal hygiene, and anything else that maintains good health.
- Make self-care a priority. There will always be other things to do, but don’t let these interrupt the time you set aside for self-care. Self-care should be given the same importance as other responsibilities.
- Set specific self-care goals. It’s difficult to follow through with vague goals, such as “I will take more time for self-care”. Instead, set specific goals, such as “I will walk for 30 minutes every evening after dinner” (8).
- Make self-care a habit. Just like eating one apple doesn’t eliminate health problems, using self-care just once won’t have much effect on reducing stress. Choose activities that you can do often, and that you will stick with.
- Set boundaries to protect your self-care. You don’t need a major obligation to say “no” to others—your self-care is reason enough. Remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else’s.
- A few minutes of self-care is better than no self-care. Set an alarm reminding you to take regular breaks, even if it’s just a walk around the block, or an uninterrupted snack. Oftentimes, stepping away will energize you to work more efficiently when you return.
- Unhealthy activities don’t count as self-care. Substance use, over-eating, and other unhealthy behaviors might hide stress temporarily, but they cause more problems in the long run.
- Keep up with self-care, even when you’re feeling good. Doing so will keep you in a healthy routine. Plus, self-care might be part of the reason why you’re feeling good!
(Ctrl and click on Download Worksheet link to get self care worksheet)
Not sure what to do? Use the Activity List worksheet to get some ideas.
Activity List worksheet (Ctrl and click on link to get worksheet)