Develop Your Self-care Plan | Great Health Guide
Develop Your Self-care Plan

Develop Your Self-care Plan

Written by Mellita Bate Counsellor

As we slowly emerge from isolations, lockdowns, strictly working from home models, and move back to offices, school schedules, and socialising, it can take some prioritising and planning to get back into a healthy rhythm. Our attention becomes taken up with the logistics of school drop-offs and pick-ups, who can check up on our pets and how will they manage now that we’re not adorning them with love and kindness 24/7? Getting the washing done, meal preparation, homework, the continuing list of things to do, and of course self-care! With all of these activities, is there time for our self-care?

During COVID restrictions, working from home has created small spaces to do these little chores, and in some ways has made focusing time on ourselves and our loved ones, more accessible with limited access to other distractions. Now as we return to a more hybrid model of working from home and the office, our approach to self-care and planning is also in need of some rebalancing. It is a pivotal point that provides us with a unique opportunity to prioritise ourselves whilst achieving our goals and supporting our families and communities.

“When we care for ourselves,

we feel better, think better & make better choices.”

Why do you need a self-care plan?

Many people don’t often consider self-care in their daily lives. In fact less than 10% of clients I come across in therapeutic group work, have ever really considered and planned self-care for themselves. It’s something we tend to do intuitively, which is why, if we don’t leave time for it, self-care can fall to the bottom of the ‘to do list’ or the ‘priority pile’.

By developing a self-care plan, we are continually looking after ourselves. When we care for ourselves, we feel better, we think better and we make better choices. We can be the person we want to be, rather than the person who is just holding it all together.

Where can you start?

A self-care plan is as individual as you are. We each have different needs, wants, and ways of reinvigorating ourselves. Here are just some of the ways that might work for you:

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1.  Exercise – If you are someone who gets a boost from exercise, your self-care plan might be heavily focused on exercise, fitness classes and other fun activities that include exercise.

2. Socialising – If you feel refreshed from connecting with others, then you might plan to include various ways of connecting with people and community. Whether it is making a ritual to have coffee with a friend or a neighbour, going for a walk with others or in a group, or volunteering – these are all great ways to fill your cup with activities that energise you.

3. Nature –  For some, connecting with nature is at the top of their list. Going for a daily walk, eating your lunch outside, or making time to be outside on the weekend can ensure you get your nature fix and maintain a healthy balance.

4. Spirituality – If you find that connecting with a larger purpose, making time to contemplate, listen, or give back are ways that you feel energised, then making intentional time for spiritual practice or contemplation are important to include.

If we do not give time and space to recharging in ways that sustain and energise us, we become depleted and lack energy and resilience.

Putting it all together.

A good starting point for developing a self-care plan is considering a holistic view of what you need to revitalise yourself. Knowing the main ways that work for you are key to getting started, and understanding what else will help balance this, will keep the cycle going.

Dan Siegel’s ‘Healthy Mind Platter‘ is a good guide. The Interrelate Wellbeing Wheel, depicted here, is another excellent tool to support with your planning. Take a moment to consider each section and ask yourself; How am I looking after myself in this section? For example, physical wellbeing can be broken down into diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation. Mental wellbeing might be relaxation, gratitude exercises and positive self-talk. Spiritual wellbeing might be connecting with nature, communicating with your God, or meditation.

How to keep it going.

Your first attempt at creating your plan might be very revealing, you could have included most of these factors into your life already, or you might find that you have been ignoring many of these areas. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to start everything at once. In fact, if you find that you have been lacking in the self-care area, then slowly adding in sections will support a longer-term achievement.

What we know is that when you feel good from self-care, that affirmation creates a dopamine release which helps in continuing the self-care cycle. If you find it difficult to keep going, just focus on one small goal to improve in one area. When you complete this, you will receive a dopamine boost for nurturing yourself, and you will be on your way to develop a self-care plan to become a happier, and healthier version of you.

Author of this article:

Mellita Bate holds degrees in B.A.Soc.Sc. & Master of Counselling & Psychotherapy. She has worked for 25 years with couples to improve relationships. More recently she has focused on supporting people through their separation journey as the Regional Manager for Interrelate, in Greater Sydney. Interrelate is a state-wide not for profit organization that offers education, counselling, and separation support to individuals and families in person and online.

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