A Self Care Checklist to Take Care of You
I’m sure you’ve heard the airline phrase, “Before assisting others with their oxygen mask, please first secure your own.” It’s a trite metaphor, but it’s true: you can help others more effectively if you take care to secure yourself first.
I may not be a flight attendant, but I am a Denver therapist and online therapist, who sees these sorts of topics arise every day. I bet that you are meeting the needs of everyone. You are always thinking about the needs of your kids, partner, job, or other important people and aspects of your busy, hectic life. But what do YOU need?
Self Care is Not Selfish
You may balk at the idea of taking the time to engage in self-care due to the care of others, your career, and the general busyness of your life. It might feel selfish or self-indulgent to focus your time and energy on just yourself. The trouble is that you will become depleted if you do not first take care of yourself. You’ll start to experience the common symptoms of burnout that the lack of self-care creates.
Lack of Self Care
When strong, competent people like yourself focus their energy on other people for weeks, months, or years at a time without considering what THEY need… it’s not pretty. What commonly happens is that eventually, there is a “break down” that may reveal itself in:
- Feeling angry and resentful towards the ones you love
- Unidentifiable “depression“
- Stress-related insomnia
- Apathy (feeling like you just don’t care), and
- Flu-like symptoms (yes, chronic stress and lack of mental, emotional and physical restoration can impact your immune system in very real ways).
Deep, Radical Self Care
As a life coach and therapist who has worked with individuals struggling to care for themselves, I see the pattern: Hustle – Burnout – Anxiety – Repeat.
This often feels like a perpetual cycle of stress and martyrdom, struggling to stay above the throngs of demands and needs of others that you lose sight of what you need – self-care and self-love.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, I’ve heard this before.” If you’re anything like my other clients, you’ve read the self-care blogs, and listened to the podcasts. You might have even adapted your diet and exercise to a “stress-free” plan of some sort.
But superficially skimming over self-care is not enough. To give yourself the kind of rest and restoration you require (notice I just used the word require), taking care of yourself needs to be a priority. Perhaps as much of a priority as taking care of everyone else.
I’d like you to consider the possibility that taking care of yourself may even be MORE essential than immediately meeting the needs of everyone else.
Radical, I know. This may make more sense to you if you understand what I see in my role as a therapist and life coach about the importance of self-care and why you need it to survive.
The Benefits of Self Care
To feel balanced and to be the best version of you, (whether you’re a parent, partner, friend, employee, boss, etc.) you must stop neglecting yourself.
Self-care has many benefits both for you AND the people who depend on you:
- Refreshes you
- Increases your ability to feel empathy for others
- Makes you more patient
- Helps you be more focused
- Helps you work harder
- Helps you offer kindness and support to others from a position of strength
Especially with my millennial life coaching clients, I often hear: “These are my hustle years, I’ll eventually have time for self-care and relaxing, but now is not the time.”
I see you: you are working so hard to do everything, be everything, in the hopes that life will eventually smooth itself out. However, this way of living is harmful to your health, goals, and relationships.
What’s the point of “making it” if, by the time you arrive, you’re a bitter, exhausted, physically and emotionally unwell person with no meaningful relationships? Yikes!
Quick, One-Question Self-Care Quiz: Do you ever feel like you are working so vigorously yet not moving forward in any capacity?
If your answer is “yes” this is a crucial sign that you are neglecting self-care.
Successful careers, lasting relationships, and personal happiness all hinge on your ability to properly take care of yourself and your needs (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually).
You are worth the effort to take care of your mind, body, and soul. You are wonderful, unique, and filled with so much potential that you owe it to yourself to look out for your body, to protect your mind, and to nurture your emotions. Yes, “emotional self-care” is just as important as any other type of self-care, sometimes more so!
A Self-Care Checklist For the Overwhelmed and Overworked
There is no one right way to practice self-care. Self-care looks and feels different from person to person. For some, getting away for an entire day of self-focus and pampering is a great way to reset and refocus. However, if this is not realistic for you, I get it. Self-care is not necessarily about going above and beyond to “treat-yo-self” but to incorporate a lifestyle of self-care that is sustainable.
Self-care can look like:
- Eating balanced meals
- Getting enough sleep
- Taking care of personal hygiene
- Living mindfully
- Drinking enough water
- Being self-aware (and then listening to your inner wisdom)
- Standing up for yourself
- Cultivating interests and friendships that energize you
- Understanding the difference between “the hustle” and “chronic stress”
- Moving on from toxic relationships
- Creating healthy boundaries
- Giving yourself permission to “not do” things that make you feel depleted
- Being honest about your emotions
- Decluttering your life
- Asking for help
- Spending time alone
- Cultivating inner peace and calm from the inside out
Your Self-Care is All About YOU
There is no standard recipe for self-care, as everyone’s needs are different. But you can use the self-care checklist I outlined above as a daily reminder of what you can incorporate into your life to take care of you.
Having a daily self-care checklist does not need to (nor should it) add more things that feel burdensome or tiring. The point is to look for things that help you feel rested, lighter, and cared for.
Here’s a self-care challenge for you: commit to practicing self-care, in some form or fashion, every day. This can mean just spending a few extra minutes in the morning doing a breathing technique or trying out a new recipe at dinner time, or even saying “no” (gracefully) and building new boundaries where needed.
Whatever your self-care routine may look like, stick to it. You’re worth it!
Meet Josephine: a warm, kind, and affirming therapist and couples counselor who specializes in communication, compassion, and connection. Her effective blend of emotionally focused therapy and positive coaching techniques can help you heal and grow, and create positive change in yourself and your relationships.