This post is the second installment of our blog series on self-care for beginners. The series is designed to answer your initial questions, give you tips on how to get started and show you how you can learn to live with a self-caring approach. Find the first part here and the final part here. BONUS: A method suitable for coaches and therapists.
Self-care is one of the most important activities that you can do in your daily life to maintain your health and well-being. Taking care of yourself is fundamental to helping others, doing a good day’s work, or living a healthy and happy life. Self-care is also essential for self-love. You probably have been doing self-care activities without knowing that you could name them ‘self-care’. If you are new to the concept and would like to know more, a good starting point is to ask, “Where do I start with my self-care?”
Identifying your needs
Before you can enact a self-care checklist, the first thing you need to do is to identify your needs. Ask yourself, “What are my needs at the moment?” Understanding your needs requires taking a moment to listen to yourself.
Take a moment to listen to your body
What are the physical sensations you’re feeling right now? Where in your body are you tensed or in pain? Where in your body are you feeling relaxed and loose? Are you hungry, sleepy, nervous, tired? Seeing or hearing something that gives you a good feeling? Perhaps you’re craving for the crunchiness of a salad or the taste of your favorite fruit?
Take a moment to listen to your emotions
What is your current mood? What is your heart saying? Are you lonely and missing your loved ones? Is today making you feel grateful to be alive? Are you sad, angry, frustrated about the state of the world? Are you feeling sunshiny and happy for no reason at all?
Take a moment to listen to your mind and your spirit
What is on your mind right now? Is there something that’s keeping you awake with worry? Are you preoccupied with a difficult goal or task? What is the quality of your focus? How motivated are you at the moment? Do you feel inspired to do something creative today? Are you in awe of the possibilities of life?
The metaFox deep questions ‘Me Time’ card deck offers self-care questions for you to enhance awareness of your needs as well as to practice attending to them. These questions have two levels of intensity to guide you, at a glance, which ones you can answer without generating a lot of emotional reaction and which ones require deeper reflection.
Now that you’ve checked-in with yourself, you’ve gained knowledge and understanding of your present needs. The next step is to plan how you can meet those needs and follow through with actions that are possible within your circumstances. Ideally, you plan for what you can do to meet your needs and take all appropriate actions. Realistically, you may not be able to meet all of your needs at once, so you plan and execute as many self-care activities as you can – this is self-care for the real world. Of course, you are in the best position to judge which of your needs take precedence and has priority over the others.
As you check-in and listen to yourself on a more regular basis, you will be able to understand your needs better as well as your capacities to satisfy them. This awareness can guide you in mapping out a plan on how self-care can reduce the common sources of stress and strains in your life and in coming up with strategies on how you can maintain and enhance your overall well-being.
As you formulate your short-term self-care routine and long-term self-care plan, you might notice that you have various needs in different areas of your life. Committing to act and meet your needs in all domains of your life is one of the self-care essentials. Ultimately, self-care is about finding balance in attending to the needs of your body, your emotions, your mind, your spirit, your work and your relationships.
There really is no one-way path to achieve balance in life through self-care. Since everyone’s circumstances, life experiences, inner worlds are unique, we all get our own say on what balance means for us. And this is a great thing because you get to decide, but this could also be a daunting thing if you’re lost and confused.
A good way to be guided is to ask meaningful questions. The metaFox deep questions ‘Me Time’ are carefully crafted self-care questions in three insightful categories.
Your life experience
The questions in this category encourage you to reflect on your past experiences. From this introspection, you can draw knowledge and insights which you can use in your present and future life.
- When was the last time you did absolutely nothing and didn’t feel guilty about it?
- In which situations do you allow yourself to be vulnerable?
Your inner world
Here you’ll find questions for exploring your values, attitudes and beliefs to help you better understand your inner landscape.
- What motivates you these days to get out of bed every morning?
- What are you afraid of? How does it affect your life?
Engaging & action
In this category, you’ll answer questions that examine the ways you engage or how you’d like to engage with yourself, others and the world around you.
- When do you usually feel like you need a break?
- What or who would you like to let go off?
Taking good care of yourself on a daily basis and with a long-term view in mind will help you achieve a balanced and happy life. We hope these self-care ideas and self-care resources are helpful as guides in creating a roadmap of your self-care plan.
Butler, L. D., & McClain-Meeder, K. (2015). Self-Care Starter Kit. Located at http://www.socialwork.buffalo.edu/students/self-care/index.asp