Happy Self-Care Awareness Month! In an effort to help you practice self-care as a daily routine, I’ve crafted this blog post to talk about how to make a daily self-care checklist that you can use to make sure you get in your daily dose of taking care of yourself.
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What is Self-Care?
So what exactly is self-care? According to the Oxford Dictionary self-care is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”. I do love this definition, but I’d like to modify it to include intentionality. Being intentional about your self-care involves increasing your awareness about WHAT self-care means to you and HOW it fits into your daily life.
Since you’re here, I’m guessing self-care is a priority for you OR you want to make it a priority. If that sounds like you, the Self-Care Mini Bundle is perfect! Learn more about this bundle of self-care resources that will leave you feeling healthier and happier.
Why Is Self-Care Important?
So what is self-care important? Self-Care is important because it is how you refill yourself so that you can thrive in every area of your life. If you’re frustrated, tired, and burned-out, all areas of your life will suffer for it.
Practicing self-care also makes you a better role model for the people that look up to you. If you’re a mom, practicing self-care is one way that you can be a better mom by showing your children how to be intentional about taking care of themselves. If you’re a manager, practicing self-care by taking a vacation, encourages your employees to not be afraid to use their own vacation days.
Benefits of Self-Care
There are many benefits of having an intentional self-care practice including:
- Better Physical Health: Having a solid self-care practice improves your physical health, not only because you engage in physical self-care but because of the connection between all areas of wellness and your physical health.
- Better Mental Health: Practicing self-care can improve your mental health because you are learning more about yourself, expressing and engaging in emotional work, and connecting with others.
- Become A Role Model: As I stated above, engaging in your own self-care shows that others are allowed to practice self-care themselves. Remember, many of us (especially children and teens) learn from watching others.
- Increased Productivity: Understanding your needs as well as your limitations, will increase your productivity because you will know when you need to say “No” and when you can say “Yes”.
- Refill Your Cup: When you practice self-care, you fill up your metaphorical cup, so that you can be more present and giving to others.
- Self-Knowledge: Practicing self-care can help you understand yourself better on many different dimensions (see below!).
8 Dimensions of Self-Care
When I think about self-care, I think about it through the 8 dimensions of wellness, which I will now dub the 8 dimensions of self-care. If you’re going to create your own checklist, I’d recommend having a few self-care ideas for each dimension. BUT, this is totally up to you and you know yourself best. You can always reevaluate your checklist and add or delete things that make the most sense to you.
Physical self-care is generally anything that has to do with keeping up with your physical health or using your senses to explore and indulge in the world around you.
Examples of Physical Self-Care
- Take a walk around your neighborhood
- Get a massage a spa (or do it yourself with this massager)
- Get 8 hours of sleep a night
- Pamper yourself with a face mask
- Move your body in a way that feels good to you (dance, do yoga, swim, etc)
- Get your hair done at a fancy salon
- Drink water BEFORE you get thirsty
- Get a manicure or a pedicure
- Eat something that makes you feel good physically
- Wrap yourself up in a blanket
Environmental self-care is creating an inviting and comfortable environment for you to flourish in. This environment can include your actual physical environment or the spaces that you’re a part of.
Examples of environmental self-care
- Declutter a room in your home
- Learn how to garden
- Take 15 minutes to clean an area of your home
- Spend time out in nature (at a park, beach, mountains, etc)
- Create a sacred space in your home
- Go somewhere that you’ve never been before
- Add some plants to your indoor spaces
- Take a different route to work or school
- Rearrange your furniture
- Now, this is a big one……Move out of the place you’re living in
Social or relational self-care is all about your establishing and strengthening connections with other human beings. You are never truly alone. There are people out there who want to connect to and learn more about you.
Examples of Social Self-Care
- Call a friend or family member and let them know how much you love them
- Find a place to volunteer and meet someone new (and help others in the process! Try using VolunteerMatch to find opportunities)
- Make a routine lunch date with a loved one
- Figure out your favorite way to say “NO”
- Ask a loved one for something that you need from them
- Use an app like MeetUp to find new people with similar interests
- Forgive someone for something that they did that hurt you
- Write an email to someone who lives far away
- Better yet…send that person a letter or package
- Spend the day with a loved one
Intellectual self-care is all about learning and engaging in activities that increase your knowledge. Whatever you are into (space, crystals, how to make movies, etc) there is something out there to help you learn more about what you love. OR take a chance and learn about something that you have no knowledge of.
Examples of Intellectual Self-Care
- Try brainteasing games like crossword puzzles or sudoku
- Take a course and learn something new (I recommend Skillshare – you’ll get a free trial using that link)
- Go to a free talk at your local library
- Watch a YouTube video about something new (I recommend these channels)
- Read a book about something that you’ve always wanted to learn about
- Go to a museum in your town or a nearby city
- Watch a documentary
- Find a podcast to listen to that helps you learn something new or deepen your knowledge about your favorite subject
- Share your knowledge with someone else (create a course, host a webinar, or tell someone something cool)
- Try brainteasing games, but video game style
Mental or emotional self-care has to do with engaging in and with your emotions and mental states. Remember, emotions are not good or bad. They just ARE. You are allowed to feel all of your feels without judgment.
Examples of Mental Self-Care
- Make a list of your positive qualities
- Reach out to Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) if you’re in crisis
- Find a therapist and make an appointment
- Practice using mindfulness (these websites might help)
- Find a support group in your area or online
- Start your day with positive affirmations
- Start a journaling habit (How to start a journal or mental health journaling prompts)
- Watch a funny video on YouTube
- Go on a digital detox for a few hours
- Forgive yourself for something that you did that hurt yourself or someone else
Spiritual self-care is all about connecting with something higher than yourself. Whether that something higher is an organized religion, your connection with nature, or your connection with other people, it is all beautiful.
Examples of Spiritual Self-Care
- Read the sacred texts of your religion (or of another religion)
- Attend a religious or spiritual service that resonates with you
- Prepare and drink a cup of tea
- Journal about your thoughts on spirituality
- Learn about manifesting with crystals
- Read poetry that resonates with you
- Watch documentaries on various spiritual concepts
- Go on a pilgrimage
If you’re interested in getting some in-depth and personalized help with starting or leveling up your self-care practice, check out my For The Love of Self-Care coaching packages here.
Financial self-care is making sure that your finances are working in a way that is beneficial for you and that does not cause you additional stress.
Examples of Financial Self-Care
- If you don’t have one, open a checking and/or savings account
- Check your bank accounts regularly
- Check your credit report and scores
- Ask for a raise (or if you own your own business, raise your prices)
- Listen to a podcast to learn more about personal finances
- Sell (or donate) things that you are no longer using
- Figure out a way to make an extra $100 a month
- Journal about your thoughts on money
- Track your spending for a week
- Learn how to invest your money
Occupational or career self-care is making sure that you are progressing in your career or job in ways that make sense and are fulfilling for you. Everyone has their own career trajectory and practicing this form of self-care can help you understand and get to where you want to be.
Examples of Occupational Self-Care
- Go to a networking event in your industry
- Take a personal day or vacation
- Invest in a professional development course (if you can get your employer to pay for it…even better!)
- Find a career counselor or coach
- Update your resume with that awesome project you accomplished
- Update your Linkedin profile (here’s mine!)
- Ask your manager for constructive feedback
- Talk to your co-workers about their workflow
- Help out on a project that will grow your knowledge or skills
- Create goals for your career
Things To Consider When Making Your Daily Self-Care Checklist
I don’t expect you (and you shouldn’t expect yourself) to do everything on your checklist every single day. It is okay to work up to checking things off or to only check off the things that are super important to you at this point in your life. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish everything that you set out to do.
Time goes hand in hand with being realistic. There are only 24 hours in a day, no matter how much time you think you can squeeze into it. Relax. Breathe. Try again tomorrow.
One thing that might help you in checking things off your list is to make it into a routine or add it to your existing routine. For example, in the morning, your routine may be to check social media while you’re having your coffee. Instead of checking social media, check your bank balances. Financial self-care √.
Remember the Basics
All of the above ideas are great but sometimes we really just need to stick to the basics of self-care, which are those instinctual needs that we all have that help us to survive: eating, drinking, sleeping, basic hygiene, and some social interaction (even just scrolling on social media). If all you can do is get these things in, you’ve done your job for the day.
Increase the Intersections
What does this mean exactly? Increasing the intersections just means understanding how you can incorporate the different dimensions of self-care together. For example, I’ve been looking into bettering my physical self-care. As someone who lives with chronic pain, my physical health could always use a boost (and is honestly not something that I always intentionally focus on).
So I decided to look into getting a physical trainer. My partner suggested looking into a gym that has small group, fitness classes. So I did and found one close to my house. So this means physical self-care (from working out) + social self-care (from working out with a group). How can you put a few dimensions of self-care together?
An Example Daily Self-Care Checklist
Below is an example of a checklist that I created. If you’d like to use this one sign up for my newsletter!
Have you ever created a self-care checklist? What things would you add to yours? Let me know in the comments.
Briana Hollis is a licensed social worker and self-care coach. She earned her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 and her Master of Education from Tiffin University in 2019. She has spent the last 5 years working in crisis intervention. Her passion for serving others is the heart of this site. She started Learning To Be Free to assist others in bringing freedom to their lives.
Briana is also the author of The Self-Care Journal for Young Adults.