On Formalized Self-Care Plans


It's a thing, people--the formalized, self-care plan. I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell anyone how much life has changed in the past few weeks, but I do have to spread the word that a self-care plan is SUPER important for all of us.


In the event you're not aware of some of the benefits, let's review!

1. You know it's true--when you develop a habit of writing things down, you not only create an accountability system, but you're able to discern patterns. If you ever want to drink less alcohol, write down every drink you have and every penny you spend on alcohol. Oh wait, that was me . . .


2. We all need to be our best for ourselves and each other, and a formal self-care plan is a way to do our best in the situation we're in. Your plan is about the things your unique self needs to function as well as it can. It lightens your mental load by providing you with a bespoke routine that programs a bunch of your decisions. It's preventative, in that it puts your personal challenges right in your face and asks: Whatcha gonna do about this today?


Me, for instance? Glad you asked. I need a ton of sleep. And I have to stretch. Plus, I have these neck and back exercises that I don't love doing and if I don't check off doing them each day I promise you I will "forget" to do them. And that doesn't end well for me or anyone in the vicinity of my aching right arm. Mindfulness? If I don't do it, I can be snippy. Very. Snippy.


As soon as I get up, I'm all about checking things off of the list that I know are fantastic for me and make me a better person, inside and out. Or at least they maintain whatever relative goodness I ended the previous day with.


3. You are better positioned to figure out what you need to do to course-correct. Let's say you've got your plan and you're doing well and then you're not, but you're still following the plan. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? Well, chances are, there's something that needs to be added to your plan. Maybe there's a non-essential relationship in your life that is very taxing or otherwise negative. Maybe there's an essential relationship in your life like that. Perhaps you need to create a mini-self-care plan just for negotiating that.


My plan is ridiculously simple--at least for me. It's actually an excel spreadsheet, which is dreadfully boring of me, but I'm the least frilly person around so it's appropriate. I also have a journal entry per day that includes my mood and tidbits like: "I ate my body weight in salt today" or "Had a lovely conversation with my neighbor, Jenny!" The following day I will likely see shifts in mood.


PRO TIP: Good sleep hygiene includes regularly speaking with wonderful people!


Finally, get yourself a self-care buddy! Create a self-care community! We are all in this together, and we might not be able to visit each other's homes the way we used to, but we can FaceTime and Zoom and, I don't know, maybe . . . use the phone as an actual phone and talk to each other.


And if you'd like to check out what 10 minutes of self-care sounds like, here's a guided meditation.


Thanks for reading, and Don't touch your face!



© 2020 by Mary Martin, Ph.D. 

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Jupiter, FL