Here’s how to create a self care checklist so you can start to incorporate more self care in to your life.
Before we get started, let’s get one thing straight.
Self care isn’t self-indulgence.
It’s not having a block of chocolate because you deserve it or binge-watching two seasons of You because you’ve had a tough day (it’s a really good show though. Just saying).
That kind of self “care” is a short term fix that only meets short term goals. And while doing it once in a while is fine, making it a part of your regular self care practice is not.
You may as well call it a self-sabotage practice if that’s the case.
So what is self care then?
Well, to me, it is literally taking care of yourself so you can function at your best.
And I believe that doing so involves hooking into a specific five areas of our lives and engaging in each one at least once every day.
By the way, these five areas are based on UK research.They’re not just something I made up because they sound good but they are a little different when it comes to traditional conceptions of self care.
- being active
- taking notice
In addition, there’s basic self care things connected with Maslow’s bottom tier of hierarchy of needs that are pretty fundamental to functioning well too.
So if you’re thinking about getting started with self care or are that next step into thinking of how you can develop a self care routine, go through these six areas and select the activities that speak to you.
You can then use them to create your very own self care checklist.
You might also like: Self Care Challenge for Teachers
This section covers the basics of what we need to survive – sleeping, eating, and hydrating.
- have 7-9 hours of sleep, depending on what your body needs
- start a bedtime routine
- wake up at the same time every day
- remove one processed food per week
- have X number of a whole foods (aim to build on your current amount. Start with one more than you currently have)
- eat one meatless meal per week
- try one wholegrain substitution per week
- drink 8 glasses of water a day
- drink X number less of soda drinks per day / week
- drink X number less of alcoholic drinks per day / week
Being active ideas
I don’t know about you, but when I read recommended guidelines for physical activity, I actually feel a little overwhelmed. This is funny because I probably DO them. However when you see them laid out in one go, it looks like a lot.
In case you are wondering, adults should aim for 150-200 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 75-150 vigorous intensity exercise per week. In addition, muscle strengthening activities are recommended twice a week (source).
Did you feel some of that overwhelm?
That’s okay, because ANY activity has health benefits over inactivity.
Before you start this section, think about how much activity you are currently getting, and add up your total minutes spent doing it.
Rather than going full noise into the suggested guidelines, aim instead to increase this amount by 10% a week until you reach your target.
Now read though these options and select which ones you could add to your day. Include how long you think you would do each activity for, aiming for that 10% and perhaps indicating those you would like to include later on.
Moderate intensity activity includes:
- washing your car
- raking leaves
- mowing the lawn
- washing windows
- pushing a stroller
- brisk walking for at least 10 minutes
- walking the dog
- slow cycling
- water aerobics
- sports like softball, baseball and volleyball
Vigorous physical activity includes:
- fast cycling including spin classes
- uphill hiking
- playing basketball, soccer or tennis (singles)
Other physical activity
- strength training (as mentioned above, each muscle group 2-3 times a week)
- stretching (You tube has so many great five minute stretches)
- yoga for flexibility (can be done every day but also has benefits in one session a week)
The word self care can make you think it’s all about yourself therefore things related to being alone.
However an important self care practice is to connect.
This can be challenging if you’re an introvert like me because you can quite happily go for days if not weeks only interacting with your immediate family and fur babies.
However feeling connected is a fundamental human need.
There are simple ways to connect which don’t involve throwing a party (though that’s perfectly okay if that’s your jam too).
Try these connection ideas for your self care checklist:
- pay someone a compliment
- smile at a stranger
- say, “Hello” as you walk past someone
- text a contact in your phone
- call your parents
- have dinner at the table (screen free)
- date your spouse
- go on a mother / son or mother/ daughter date
- attend a free community event
- attend a concert or sports game
- join a social sports team
- start a bookclub
Much like connecting, when we are in a less than ideal headspace, the thought of giving can seem like a cruel irony. Isn’t what you need someone to take care of you?
However the opposite can be the case. Giving lowers our blood pressure, depression and stress and increases or happiness (source).
It’s also a lot of fun.
Here are ways of giving you can add to your self care checklist:
- do a random act of kindness
- tell the stressed out mom in the checkout line that she’s doing a great job
- let a car in when driving
- give up a car park
- let someone ahead of you in line
- buy a colleague a coffee
- babysit your neighbor’s kids
- pay for someone’s groceries
- leave a large tip
- support a local fundraiser
- get your dog involved in dog assisted therapy programs
- volunteer your time or your skills
- donate blood
- donate to a well-researched charity
Humans have incredible brains and those brains were meant to be used. You know that because you’re a teacher.
But how many often do you focus on your own learning – not that of your students?
And I’m not taking about coming to grips with the latest educational theories either.
Learning doesn’t have to be as complicated as enrolling in a new college degree. There are many ways you can take care of your brain every day!
- cooking a new meal
- reading your favorite blogs for new ideas
- watching a TED talk
- learning a new hobby
- adding a word to your vocabulary
- teaching yourself how to DIY something using You tube
- learning a new language with Duolingo
- reading 10 pages of a personal development book
- enrolling in an online class on Udemy or Coursera (many of which you can get for free)
- listening to a podcast
- learning a new craft through You Tube
You might also like: How to Develop a Growth Mindset
Taking notice ideas
Taking notice might be the last item on this self care checklist but it is certainly not the least.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about how life has changed in the last 30 or so years, it’s how much our attention is pulled from one thing to another.
We don’t seem to be able to walk, garden or drive without listening to something.
Taking notice is one way of looking after ourselves . Here’s some lovely ways you can do so:
- watch a sunrise
- watch a sunset
- garden in silence
- focus on your breathing
- practice mindfulness
- practice mindful eating
- listen to the birds
- focus fully on a conversation
- look for the feeling behind the words and respond to that
- put your phone on airplane mode for increasing lengths of time
- do yoga
- close your eyes and listen to a favorite song from start to finish
- people watch
- smell the rain
- practice gratitude
Being your best self means taking care of yourself.
Use these suggestions based on both physiological needs and ways to wellbeing to create a daily self care checklist (or a weekly self care checklist if that works better for you!) that incorporates these aspects into your life.