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Self care is not only beneficial, it’s essential for maintaining your health and wellbeing. There are many benefits to having a daily self care routine, especially during stressful times. However, self care is usually not intuitive. It requires motivation, reflection, a set of goals, and a self care checklist plan.

What Is Self Care?

Self care is defined by the International Self-Care Foundation as, “what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health and to prevent and deal with illness.” Self care is a broad term, but it’s often used to help promote optimal health. More commonly, it may also be used to balance your own physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, ideally leading to greater overall health and longevity.1

You shouldn’t view self help as a luxury – spa visits, retreats, and expensive juicing cleanses – available to a select few based on income or privilege. Rather, self care is the birthright of every human being on the planet. Self care can be done with small, incremental steps to help enhance your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

When you feel physically and emotionally well, you can more easily navigate life stressors in healthy and productive ways.

Fortunately, there are many types of self care practices available. Making a daily self-care checklist can simplify the process.

The Basic Elements Of A Self-Care Plan

Think About Your Time

Whether you’re a busy mom or an overscheduled office worker, you might think that you don’t have time for a daily self care routine. In reality, you can schedule a self care routine around 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour.

self care routine | Unify HealthChart Out The Basics

The basics of self care include activities that enable you to have a clearer mind and attain focus. These include writing in a journal, practicing your hobbies, and carving out time for relaxation. It also involves tweaking or adding rituals to existing habits, such as your shower, breakfast or lunchtime routines, meditating, listening to music, and taking a brisk walk outdoors.2

Establish A Realistic Routine

The key to consistent self care is to establish a routine that is realistic. Begin with establishing regular bedtime and wake-up times, getting enough sleep, eating better, moving around and exercising, finding creative time, and making time for yourself.3

Conduct Regular Check-Ins With Yourself

Once you establish your self care tasks, you will also want to check in with yourself: Take stock of your mental and physical self-care needs, your habits and routines, and any issues or problems that may have arisen since your last check-in session. To really make an impact, a daily check-in is optimal.4

Categories Of Self Care

Self care should not be seen as a monolithic, impenetrable concept. It can be broken down into several key components, each of which may be addressed in their own way:

  • Physical health
  • Social health
  • Mental and emotional health
  • Spiritual health

Physical Health

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you may feel irritable or have a low mood, or become prone to losing your balance.5

Do You Eat A Nutritious, Well-Balanced Diet?

One of the goals of self-care should be to eat better. There are numerous health benefits associated with eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet. These include participating in more self-care actions, feeling happier, and making additional healthy lifestyle choices.6

healthy diet | Unify HealthIdeas for a well-balanced diet might include:

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Proteins
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy fats
  • At least eight 8-oz glasses of water or fluid per day7

Do You Exercise Daily?

A proactive self care plan is not complete without exercise. Exercising on a daily basis has been shown to help support mood, increase energy, promote better sleep, and maintain a healthy weight.8 Exercise at least 30 minutes, three times per week.9

Social Health

Your health and well-being are not only limited to your physical health.

Face-To-Face Interactions Are Better Than Digital

Person-to-person contact has been associated with better health. This is not surprising, since humans are social creatures. Unfortunately, social time over the Internet has not been found to be a substitute for face-to-face time with family and friends.10

Nurture Your Relationships

If face-to-face interactions are vital to being human, then nurturing those relationships is the glue that holds them together long-term. With technology and the time constraints of everyday living, it is imperative for families and friends to connect with one another. This includes expressing gratitude for each other, taking on rituals together, and learning to forgive.11

Community Involvement Goes A Long Way

It’s simple enough to do self-care by yourself. But in real life, self-care in isolation isn’t enough to help promote wellness. Community care may be practiced as well. This spreads the responsibility of compassionate care across the entire community.12

Mental And Emotional Health

Limit Time Spent On Social Media

social media usage | Unify Health

Email, social media, and other digital tools can gobble up a huge amount of time, leading to feelings of loneliness. Keeping your daily usage to about 30 minutes per day has been shown to help increase overall feelings of happiness.13

Be Careful Using Technology

Consider how you’ll deal with late night email requests, phone calls, texts, and social media chats. You may need to schedule specific time with friends and family so that they don’t encroach on your well-being time.14

Make Time For The Outdoors

This might be self-evident, but spending time in nature is good for your health. The outdoors provides mental health benefits, in addition to the physical upsides. You don’t even need to have a destination in mind for this to be successful. Here are just a few beneficial reasons to spend time in nature:

  • You may raise your vitamin D levels15
  • You’ll get more exercise, which produces endorphins16
  • You may help elevate your mood
  • Your focus may improve17

Set An Intention For An Emotional Outlet

All too often, people ignore or dismiss their feelings. This may lead to negative outcomes. A valuable component of a daily self care checklist is learning how to “sit” with your feelings. Sitting with your feelings does not mean letting them control you. It simply means that you don’t judge yourself for having them.18

Spiritual Health

Practice Meditation Or Healing Prayer

Meditation has numerous potential physical and mental health benefits, including supporting a calmer mood. While it’s just one of many factors influencing our health and well-being, it can transform how we see ourselves and how we make sense of the world around us. Meditation is available to everybody. It’s free. It’s easily customizable to a variety of time constraints. And it’s the perfect foil for our fast-paced, tech-driven culture.19

earthing | Unify HealthThe most optimal times to practice meditation are in the morning after you wake up or at night before you go to bed. About 20 minutes of quiet time per day has been found to provide significant benefits.20

Go “Earthing”

Earthing, also known as grounding, describes the benefits that result from walking barefoot outside. It refers to the way your body transfers electrons from the ground into the body.

This may result in better sleep, reduced tension and stress, decreased morning fatigue, and a boost in overall energy.21

The best places to walk are on dirt, grass, or sand. A good frequency to aim for is about 20-30 minutes a day. This time in nature allows your body ample time to absorb the energy to benefit from its effects.22

Incorporate Non-Toxic Cleansers

Having a clean living space has a positive effect on your mind. Your body is impacted by the chemicals that you put on it and those that exist in your home environment. One way to mitigate this is to make (or purchase) household cleaners with non-toxic substances, like baking soda and vinegar. And you get to do double duty: Using homemade natural cleaners instead of harsh chemicals helps to keep the planet clean, too.23,24

31-Day Self Care Routine

If you are really feeling adventurous and confident, you can commit to a 31-Day Self-Care Challenge. The purpose of this simple self care challenge is to focus on doing one self-care activity each day that makes you feel good. From meditation, to cooking your favorite meal, to experimenting with a new workout, these daily activities are a fabulous way to help maintain a healthy mind and foster a meaningful life.25

Learn More:
What Is Self Care And Why Is It Important?
Self Care at Home: How To Create A Meditation Space To Help Calm Your Mind
Age And Nutrition: How Do Your Nutritional Needs Change As You Age?

Sources
1 https://isfglobal.org/what-is-self-care/
2 https://www.uabmedicine.org/-/scheduling-in-self-care-how-much-time-do-you-have-today-
3 http://www.mdcoalition.org/blog/six-realistic-self-care-practices-for-right-now
4 https://thethirty.whowhatwear.com/how-to-check-in-with-yourself/slide16
5 https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-sleep
6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475602/
7 https://www.lls.org/sites/default/files/National/USA/Pdf/Publications/Caregiver_Worksheet_20_SelfCarePlan.pdf
8 https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/health-safety-wellness/counseling/self_care/exercise
9 https://www.lls.org/sites/default/files/National/USA/Pdf/Publications/Caregiver_Worksheet_20_SelfCarePlan.pdf
10 https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/11/20/mental-health-may-benefit-from-face-to-face-social-contact-but-not-online#4
11 https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/nurture-your-relationships
12 https://mashable.com/article/community-care-versus-self-care/
13 https://www.thedouglasreview.com/7-ways-to-manage-self-care-in-the-age-of-social-media
14 https://theblissfulmind.com/habits-for-self-care/
15 https://www.southuniversity.edu/news-and-blogs/2016/08/spending-time-in-nature-for-your-health-how-outdoor-activities-improve-wellbeing-102984
16 https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/mental-health-benefits-outdoors/
17 https://www.sharp.com/health-news/5-ways-being-outdoors-can-make-you-healthier-and-happier.cfm
18 https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-sit-with-painful-emotions#1
19 https://www.psycom.net/10-minutes-that-can-change-your-life
20 https://mindworks.org/blog/how-long-should-i-meditate/
21 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/
22 https://3sources.com/earthing-for-health-the-practice-of-grounding-your-feet-each-day/
23 https://bangordailynews.com/2020/06/22/bangor-metro/15-ways-to-practice-self-care-with-a-lower-carbon-footprint/
24 https://bangordailynews.com/2020/06/22/bangor-metro/15-ways-to-practice-self-care-with-a-lower-carbon-footprint/
25 https://www.coffeewithsummer.com/self-care/31-day-self-care-challenge/