Woman taking notes representing How to Keep Calm With a Self-Care Plan

Feeling Stressed Out?

Everyone experiences stress in life, and as a therapist and life coach, many of my clients come to me wondering how to better manage it. We actually need stress in order to thrive and continue to actualize as human beings. We also need to be okay with getting out of our own comfort zone so we can learn to thrive in a forever changing world. The problem with stress is that we can often get stuck in a chronic state of stress that doesn’t allow us to thrive. 

When we are under too much stress for too long we are living in a state of survival that is headed down a path of self-destruction. When we can manage the stress in our lives on a regular daily basis, we learn to reset our nervous system back to a healthy baseline of rest and relaxation. Rest and relaxation is part of our natural state of being, without it we go into overdrive and lose touch with caring for ourselves, those we love, and the planet.

A self-care checklist is an excellent first step in bringing awareness to how you manage the stress in your life. Notice the areas of your life that need extra attention and begin to develop your own self-care plan.

Physical Needs

A happy body is a happy mind. Taking proper care of your physical health will lead to positive changes in your mental and emotional health, too. If you’ve been neglecting your physical needs – it could take some practice to get up and running in this department but I promise you: once you start taking care of yourself with proper sleep, food, water, and exercise, you’ll immediately start to experience the benefits.

I encourage you to start with one thing at a time. If you take on too much change at once, you may experience overwhelm or burnout. Think of this as a journey, you’re setting yourself up for the long haul. Sprinting into a new lifestyle will only cause you to sprint right back out of it. Getting comfortable with the slow-build will help you to keep up your new habits long-term (and they’ll come easier to you, too!).

Take a look at the list below, is there anything you’re already accomplishing that you can check off today? If so, start there and narrow your list down. If not, pick something that you can implement into your current lifestyle and routine today (and stick with it!).

If you’re not sure where to start, water is an excellent and easy task to accomplish. I use a large mason jar and fill it up about 4 times a day. I have no trouble drinking water when it’s in my designated water jug! It’s become a natural habit for me. Water will also aid you in successfully accomplishing the other physical needs on your list – it’s a great gateway habit to a healthier lifestyle!

_I get adequate sleep every night

_I eat healthy meals regularly

_I drink lots of water throughout the day

_I walk or exercise at least 3 times per week

Healthy Relationships

It’s important for us to manage emotions in a healthy and reasonable manner. Make commitments to others but keep commitments to yourself, too. Be open with your communication, but set boundaries–you don’t want to get overwhelmed!

Healthy relationships don’t happen overnight. I know this, you know this, your partner/best friend/family probably knows this. Similarly to your physical needs, building healthy relationships takes time and commitment. So, it can feel like a lot to begin on this journey. 

In my work with clients (whether couples, friends, families, or individuals) around relationships, it’s never too early to get started on building strong, foundational skills: boundaries, communication, respect, empathy, listening, etc. But it can feel messy, too. Especially if you’re in a toxic relationship or struggling to build better friendships. Where do you start?

If you’re looking at the list below and thinking, “umm…this feels like too much,” don’t worry – we’ve all been there! When it comes to building any habit, it’s always best to have a support team. Whether that’s a mentor you trust, a support group with similar goals as you, or a life coach or therapist, having someone to help encourage you, brainstorm new ideas, and guide you through this process is extremely helpful.

So, if you are wanting to begin on a journey to healthier relationships, below are some areas you can focus on growing in. Remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or “messy” throughout this phase, reach out for help. 

_I keep focused on how I can be more loving and kind with people in my life

_I share appreciation with those I love – friends and family throughout the day

_I am open to resolving conflict in a healthy loving way

_I am able to speak my truth and set loving boundaries with others

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Fun and Relaxation

There are few better ways to calm anxiety than simply having fun. Like all things, you may need to check and make sure you’re proportioning it appropriately. Losing yourself in something fun can help you become acquainted with your best self.

You might be reading this article because you’re in the muck and mire of everyday stress. Work feels never ending, your relationships feel exhausted, your physical and emotional care is neglected – and fun is the last thing on your mind. I get it: when you’re caught up in stress and anxiety it’s really hard to see beyond the state you’re in. In this place, so many people can turn to temporary relief systems that not only cause more stress on their mind and body – but do not create a lasting state of relief. I don’t want you to feel this way. You deserve rest and relaxation. 

The easiest way to talk yourself into relaxing (especially if you’re a type-A stress case), is to make relaxation fun. Below is a list of growth areas to help you get started loosening up and enjoying yourself. If you’re new to “fun” or it’s been awhile to say the least, start with giving yourself breaks. Take a break from your hectic work schedule and go for a walk. Take a break from your exhausted relationships and spend some quiet time alone. Take a break and take a nap! Enjoy yourself first, and then allow yourself to enjoy time with others as you see fit.

_I have fun on a regular basis

_I laugh freely and easily

_I take breaks for fun and relaxation – I don’t work non-stop

_I have things planned in the future that I look forward to

Healthy Environment

Whether it be at work or at home, ensuring you have a healthy environment can foster your self-esteem and help you to stay motivated. Think of your place of work as your command center and your home as your sanctuary. 

In your command center you have everything you need to be successful. You enter your office with confidence knowing that whatever you need you can easily find. Your mind is at ease and ready for work. You’ve set yourself up for success and you’re ready for whatever the day throws your way. 

In your sanctuary, you’ve created a place of rest. You’re not overwhelmed or burdened by “things.” In fact, everything has a place in your home and when those icky-stressful feelings start to rise, you know what to do: whether that’s clearing and cleaning, organizing and rearranging, or simplifying and decluttering – you’ve got this under control. 

Here is a list to get you started, but if you need a little help – there are some great professional organizers out there to help guide you through getting started!

_My home is well organized and clean

_I live in a home that I love

_My work environment is well organized and inspiring

_I love my lifestyle – the way I live my life

Emotional Health

Communicate with your emotions, rather than just dragging them along. Take a moment out of your day to reflect on the direction of your life, and allow yourself to be vulnerable when you need to.

This might mean allowing space to experience big emotions that you’ve been pushing back for awhile. It can be scary to allow yourself to work through the underlying emotions you’ve been holding onto but you don’t have to go about it alone. Working with a good therapist or coach to uncover your hidden obstacles, dark emotions, and lingering feelings that you’ve been stuffing away somewhere – will create a new space for you to start letting in the lighter, peaceful emotions that you’re probably craving.

If you’re looking at the list below and thinking, “yeah, I want that in my life.” Then there’s no better time than the present to get involved in some really good personal growth work. Soon, you’ll be checking off the below list and probably adding to it!

_I feel peaceful and happy in my life

_I am pursuing my dreams and living my purpose

_I know my own intrinsic worth and feel loved

_I feel my life has balance and I have plenty of time to do all that I want to do

Spiritual Growth

Don’t forget to keep in touch with the person within. Doing so can help you build clarity for yourself, and empathy for others. Take some time to meditate, or simply watch the clouds roll by.

Spiritual growth can mean something different to different people and the below list can help you figure out what it means to you. Understanding yourself, your wants, and your desires on a deeper level can bring peace and clarity to an otherwise stressful situation. So, whether you use this time to congregate with others, self-meditate, nap, journal, or explore – take time to quiet your busy-thoughts and listen to what your body and mind are asking for. 

_I know that I am a spiritual being living in a human body

_I feel a deep connection with my spiritual connection

_I have activities I do on a regular basis that nurture my spiritual life

_I have faith that my life is unfolding exactly as it should for my highest good

Learning how to manage stress in your life is an essential part of skillful living and life satisfaction. It takes practice to know what works best on a regular daily basis. A self-care plan also needs to have some flexibility and adaptability, as it will change throughout the different stages in life, as well as with the seasons of nature.

As you begin to create your personal self-care checklist and find areas that you’d like to improve in, find a support system that can help keep you on track and lift you up with your feeling a little low or overwhelm starts to creep in. 

What’s on your self-care checklist? Share with us below in the comments section.

Wishing you all the best,
Growing Self

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Therapy Questions, Answered.

Our expert therapists have generously created an entire library of articles, activities, and podcasts to support you on your journey of growth. Please visit our “Happiness Collections” to browse our content collections, and take advantage of all the free resources we have for you. Or, if you’d like to educate yourself about the process and logistics of therapy, please help yourself to our “therapy questions” knowledge base below. It’s all for you!

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