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Developing a Self-Care Plan

posted on Thursday, September 17, 2020

In the current state our world is in, we believe self-care is not only just as important as your physical health, but it is more important than ever before. 

In a recent virtual staff meeting, Chris Sparks, Executive Director, shared tips on developing a self-care plan. Our staff have responded so well to these methods that we wanted to share them with you.  

1. Know who you are. Caregivers have a predisposition to helping and tend to lean in to a problem to support others. Cultivate self awareness of your own emotional state. Do not suppress your own needs. Recognize and prioritize your needs. Listen to yourself and trusted others.

2. Quiet your limbic system. Your limbic system is made up of nerves and networks concerned with instincts and mood. Recognize, process, and realize your irrational fears and ideas. Practice a technique called centering. Centering helps you calm your emotions, manage your breathing, and slow your mind so you can feel and think clearly. Take a moment to close your eyes, breathe in and out for 60 seconds and consider a focus word. 

3. Practice normalization and reassurance. When you are facing challenges it is helpful to see them as real and objectively stressful. Anyone going through what you’re going through would likely be stressed out. Your reaction is a typical reaction. 

4. Ask yourself the partialization question. Break the multi-system problem down into manageable parts. For example, how to eat an elephant... by taking one bite at a time.

5. Establish clear priorities. Sometimes you need to tackle the easiest thing versus the biggest thing to get traction. Choose things only in your circle of influence and your circle of control. Complicated systemic problems play out over long periods of time.

6. Take care of yourself. This makes all other habits possible. Eat well. After the pandemic, people will emerge from this lighter and healthier or sicker and heavier. Get sleep. Establish good sleep schedules. Exercise. Exercise is the most clinically effective treatment of depression and stress (more effective and quicker than medication). 

Sharpen the saw - Take care of yourself and manage what you can. Habit 7 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests renewing the four dimensions of your nature (physical, spiritual, mental/cognitive, and socio-emotional). Consider learning something new or journaling to document this historic time and potentially relieve some of the hold that the challenges have over you. Take time for yourself, your family, your friends, and do things that matter to you.

7. Conserve your emotional energy. Considerations: social media, people that are an undue burden, destructive habits, avoid things that take your energy versus replenish your energy. Don’t sit around and admire/fixate on the problem. If something hasn’t worked in the past, stop and try something different. Build out your response repertoire of options and build better habits.

8. Objectify, don’t catastrophize. Understand and focus on what is in your control. 

We hope these tips help you develop your own self-care plan because taking care of yourself makes all other habits possible.