5 Tips To Help You Develop A Solid Self-Care Plan

Photo: getty
5 Tips To Help You Develop A Solid Self-Care Plan

You hear a lot about self-care these days. Most people misunderstand what it means, because feel they feel that they don't have enough time for an effective self-care plan.

Self-care is something you need to practice daily. It's taking care of your mind, body, and soul.

A lot of people feel self-care is about making themselves better. But that's not necessarily the case.

RELATED: What Is Self-Care? 7 Ideas For How To Take Care Of Yourself Every Single Day

Self-care is about nurturing yourself.

Setting aside time just for you is one of the best things you can do for yourself, even if it's only 10 minutes. You're allowing yourself to have a nurturing experience.

This doesn't mean you aren't being productive or that you're being selfish. Unfortunately, society has taught you that.

When you have an effective self-care plan, you'll feel better — both emotionally and physically.

Stress is the number-one killer. People are busier than ever, and this busy-ness will eventually be apparent on your health. It puts you at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and heart disease, just to name a few.

The good news is that you can start your self-care plan today. It won't take a lot of time, and it's easy to start.

Here are 5 tips to help you develop a solid self-care plan.

1. Pay attention to your mental health.

Are you able to express your feelings in healthy ways? When you don't express your feelings, you end up feeling stuck.

It's important to stay in touch with how you're feeling. This means it's alright to talk about your problems with friends and family. You can also journal.

What type of fun hobbies or activities do you have? Does work eat up most of your time? Work can keep you away from having fun, which will eventually bring you down.

Make sure you schedule mental self-care days, go on vacation, and make time to learn new things. Watch a funny video or movie — laughing is great for the soul. All the better, if you're laughing with friends and family.

2. Take care of your physical health.

Make sure you're getting plenty of rest — seven to nine hours of sleep per night is the recommendation.

Eat plenty of healthy foods — fresh foods are the best. Make sure you have plenty of fruits and vegetables. They are good with a meal or as a snack.

Have lean protein and some carbs, as well. You also want to have some healthy fats, which good for your brain and will help give you energy.

Schedule time for exercise. You can go for a walk with a friend, or take a virtual yoga class. Make sure your exercise plan includes activities you enjoy.

Take care of personal hygiene, too. When you bathe regularly, you feel better.

3. Socialize.

Spend plenty of time with friends and family who you like. Being around positive people is good for you.

Keep in touch with friends and family who don't live near you. This will help you feel connected.

Have stimulating conversations. This starts with asking questions and being a good listener.

Make sure you ask for help when you need it. If you have a romantic partner, how much quality time do you spend together?

RELATED: Why Self-Care Is So Much More Than Nap Time & Bubble Baths

4. Feed your spirituality.

Spiritual practice is something you need to engage in daily — it's good for your heart and mind.

Spend time in meditation and prayer. Prayer doesn't always mean asking for something. 

It's about being, rather than doing. Spend time in nature alone or with friends and family. Stop and look at your surroundings. Notice how the trees protect you from the harsh sun.

What gives meaning to you in your life? Write a list and see what you come up with.

Appreciate the powerful impact art has on you and the world. Participate in a cause that is important to you. Don't get caught up on the outcome; it's the process that counts.

Make sure you set aside plenty of time for thought and reflection.

5. Improve your professional skills.

How much time do you set aside to improve your professional skills? You could read a book or go to a workshop. Set limits at work. Say "no" to extra projects that will weigh down your workload.

Take on projects that are stimulating and rewarding. Make time to build relationships with colleagues.

Take breaks during the day. This will help clear your mind and make you more productive. Keep your personal and professional life balanced.

Make sure your workspace is comfortable and organized. Advocate for fair pay and other needs in the workplace.

Self-care tips aren't one size fits all. You can customize it to fit your needs. Start with small steps. Meaning, allow 10 minutes a day for your self-care plan. You will feel better almost immediately.

Start by accessing your self-care plan.

Are you a busy mom? You may want to start with physical self-care — not that you aren't moving around all the time taking care of the family. But you may enjoy yoga away from the family to help you feel energized.

Are you retired? You may want to start with social self-care. It's important to safely stay connected to others. 

You don't have to tackle everything at once. Allow yourself time and go easy on yourself. If you don't, you are putting your mental and physical health at risk.

RELATED: 4 Tips To Help You Succeed At This Whole 'Adulting' Thing

Lianne Avila is a marriage and family therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on Lessons for Love to learn more about her services and expertise.

This article was originally published at Lessons For Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.