Life is full of challenges, and major transitions - even if they are celebratory! - can add significant stress.
Wether you feel overwhelmed by a new job, a move, the loss of a relationship or adding to your family it's best to be honest about overwhelm or anxiety before it takes too big a toll on your mental or physical health.
It turns out that there are a few things we can create time for each day that allow us to experience more joy and less overwhelm. My hope is to help you create a self care checklist unique to you that can help you navigate challenges or transitions with less stress and more love.
Here's the thing, everyone's checklist will look different, because we all need different types and amounts of self caring activities. I'm going to toss a lot of options and ides out at you and you can feel free to add your own.
Print your self care checklist and write down the activities that speak to you, test them for the week and then reflect and course correct if needed.
Some questions to ask yourself as you begin:
Did I get enough sleep last night?
Have I eaten well today?
Have I moved my body or been outside recently?
Will this matter in a year?
Do I feel responsible for another persons happiness?
Am I setting unrealistic expectations for myself?
What feelings and connections do I want to experience in the coming days/weeks?
Am I saying yes to things to avoid judgement or to keep the peace?
Are there people who cause me worry, anger or even sleeplessness?
Which people surround me with support and non-judgement?
When I feel my best, and my needs are supported is it easier for me to give freely of my time, energy and money? (the holidays ask us to do more "giving" than we normally would, so this is key if you're feeling "tapped out" every day.
Give YOUrself a break.
Yes, that's right. YOU are the most important part of self-care. Extra obligations and expectations tend to uproot us from what keeps us feeling grounded and supported. You will never be able to hear your own needs if you can never seem to stop. Take a breath. And listen to what it is you truly desire. Or, perhaps in the stillness you'll hear what it is that's not working for you.
The following activities are suggestions that may help you re-connect with your inner strength and wisdom. If something resonates with you add it to your self-care checklist.
Harness your body's healing power
move your body
get adequate sleep
spend some time in nature
listen to what your body wants to eat, and enjoy preparing and consuming your mindful meal.
drink plenty of water
The limits we set on how we spend our time and who we spend it with helps to create sustainable relationships and habits. Boundaries are necessary for maintaining basic physical/emotional health.
Decide how you want to spend your time/energy and create space for that.
Identify unhealthy activities and make a plan to limit them. While drinking 3 glasses of wine each night, gaming, or binge watching The Good Place may be tempting, those behaviors may be a band-aid for pain that needs healing, not hiding.
Just Say No to things that exhaust you.
Planning/prepping/making complicated time consuming meals
Elaborate event planning
Driving long distances
Entertaining or hosting (especially if it also involves cleaning your house).
Work parties or activities after hours.
Decline invitations to events with friends, co-workers or family members that exhaust you, belittle you, judge, or guilt-trip you. If that sounds impossible try something like this, "I'm prioritizing rejuvenation and rest these days so I won't make it. Let's schedule a time to connect next week or next month. Thanks for supporting me."
Connect to You
We all need time in our day to connect meaningfully to who we are and what we enjoy.
Laugh out loud - try laugher yoga!
Create something - collage, write a haiku, paint.
Write in your journal
Turn on a song that makes you want to dance and do just that.
Gratitude Journal - I like pen and paper but there are over a dozen apps or communities designed to help you pause and connect to what makes you thankful every day.
Nurture Authentic Relationships
Healthy relationships in which you can be yourself, feel supported and maybe even connect to something bigger than you are vital for self-care.
Take a walk with a friend
Get coffee with a mentor or colleague who supports you
Write heartfelt letters or cards
Schedule a phone call with a confidant you've lost touch with
Take a yoga class
Learn a new skill or craft with a friend (and knock a few gifts off your list, too!)
Schedule an appointment with your therapist
Attend church or some other spiritual group
Join a hiking/biking/etc. group that meets regularly
Okay so now what?
Now that you've got your checklist full of healing activities to draw you
into deeper connection with yourself and what sustains you, it's time to
track what works and what doesn't.
Here are some things to remember:
1. Your self-care list should not be one more task that stresses you
out, hopefully it's a breath of fresh air to take time for you as you check
off several boxes each day.
2. You don't have to tick all the boxes every day - it's okay to develop a
new routine over time by consciously creating new connections in a slow
and sustainable way.
3. In fact, for serous type-A recovering perfectionists I would suggest
only putting 3-4 items on your checklist in the first week. You don't have
to do it all on day one!