In a previous article I emphasized how ongoing stress can cause negative physical and mental effects on the body and how practicing self-care or stress management techniques can reduce or maybe prevent those negative effects from happening. Many strategies were suggested, but how do we make the time to do them? There are many ways to stay on track and help you stay accountable.
- Create a self-care plan. This is essentially a self-inventory to make sure you are practicing self-care in all the areas of wellness and well-being. Include not just physical and emotional, but also social, intellectual, environmental and spiritual areas of wellness. How will you show your creativity? Is your physical space welcoming? What can you do to find meaning and joy in your day? Who are your social supports?
- Set reminders to do your self-care practices. That may be in the form of setting an alarm on your phone, including it in your daily schedule, participating in a social media group designed to be supportive and help with accountability, or recruit an accountability partner who can help with reminders.
- PennState Extension suggests making a personal safety plan or action plan. Write down three to five actions that might help you feel calmer when feeling stressed or anxious. You may also list some of your stress reduction techniques that you plan to either try or continue to practice and how often you plan to do them. Keep this up on the fridge, next to your desk, bed, or car where you can always be reminded of them.
Another important strategy for self-care and to protect your time to practice self-care is being able to say “no” and honoring your boundaries. Cancelling those breaks, vacations, special events, and self-care practices is not healthy. The truth is that there are limits in how much you can do in a day and over-commitment can cause stress and fatigue. Saying no allows you to honor existing obligations and dedicate quality time to those commitments.