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Committing to a self-care plan

Committing to a self-care plan
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Self-care has never been more important. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to stick with a self-care regimen.

Between job responsibilities, family obligations, and life’s ups and downs, we often don’t have enough time to build – much less maintain – a self-care regime.

But now might be the time to start getting a little more serious about committing to a self-care plan.

Why practice self-care?

Why practice self-care?
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A recent survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society found lower levels of wellbeing and higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety symptoms in the population with the majority of Australians feeling that stress impacts their physical health (72 per cent) and mental health (64 per cent).

Add to this the Covid-19 pandemic which has changed the way we live and it can be harder to keep on top of how we’re feeling. Now more than ever, it’s important to make self-care a priority.

Tips for building a self-care plan

Tips for building a self-care plan
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To prioritise self-care in your life, here are some tips on how to successfully build your own customised self-care plan.

Check out these short rituals you can do every day to boost your mental health.

Make up your own rules

Make up your own rules
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“People have a preconceived notion of self-care and think that they have to engage in specific tasks,” says counsellor, Candice Williams. “But self-care is what you make it. I always tell my clients that they can make their own rules.”

You can opt to build a daily, weekly, quarterly, or annual self-care regimen that includes 15-minute meditations and/or nightly journaling. Add in an eight-hour sleep routine or commit to quarterly mini vacations.

The main goal of self-care includes engaging “in meaningful activities that reduce stress, while promoting optimal health and well-being,” says clinical psychologist, Barbara Ford Shabazz. “Creating a plan is a highly individualised endeavour.”

Be realistic

Be realistic
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Williams recommends creating a realistic self-care regimen that considers your daily responsibilities and obligations. “Often people are overly ambitious and create a self-care plan that they are not able to maintain,” she says.

“Self-care should not be stressful,” adds Shabazz. “Be realistic about cost and time investment. Do what you can with what you have. Don’t be afraid to scale back or adjust as needed.”

Don’t miss these silent signs you’re not taking care of yourself.

Balance intentionality with flexibility

Balance intentionality with flexibility
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When building a self-care regimen, it’s important to be intentional about including activities that are relaxing and calming. But keep in mind that you might have to make changes to your regimen as needed. Williams also recommends being organised to feel more grounded and settled.

Check out the daily morning habits of highly organised people.

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Maintain your boundaries and recognise your barriers

Maintain your boundaries and recognise your barriers
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Williams stresses the importance of establishing and maintaining boundaries with your responsibilities, such as work, and with the people in your life. Maintaining boundaries can also help you identify barriers that may prevent you from maintaining a self-care regimen. “Removing something that you feel is an unhealthy distraction is an act of self-care in and of itself,” says Williams.

Boundaries are also important to maintain if you’re working from home due to the pandemic. Williams recommends making sure to carve out at least 30 minutes a day to eat lunch away from your workspace and to identify a specific cut-off time for answering emails and doing any work-related tasks.

Read on for the things COVID-19 has made people change about their home lives.

Make a ‘You’ list

Make a ‘You’ list
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While building your self-care regimen consider creating a ‘you’ list. This does not include various work-related deadlines or activities for other people. “Write self-care activities on small pieces of paper or popsicle sticks and place them in a jar,” suggests Williams. “Each time you want to engage in a self-care activity, pull from your ‘you list’ jar.”

Shabazz recommends that you plan your self-regimen in a way that honours your full self. “It’s imperative that your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, financial, social, and professional needs are given separate space and attention,” she says. “Identify ways you’d like to take care of yourself in each domain. Develop a master list, keep it handy, and refer to it often.”

Learn more about emotional isolation and self regulation here.

Be in the moment by unplugging

Be in the moment by unplugging
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When engaging in any self-care activity, it’s important to be in the moment.

“An important part of self-care is being present in the moment and being mindful about how our body and mind are responding to daily responsibilities and how that impacts our productivity,” says Willams. “This allows us to take a step back and take inventory of where we are overextending ourselves. Remember, anything that you can’t take a step away from, you’re a slave to.”

Here is what can happen when you start meditating every day.

Commit to consistency

Commit to consistency
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Most things are ineffective if they are not done consistently. “It won’t work for you unless you work it,” Shabazz says. Consistency is key.

Make the little things work. “When it comes to self-care, it’s the little things that add up and make a big difference in your life,” says psychologist, Akilah Reynolds.

Make the most of your limited free time. “Take just two minutes out of your day to do something for yourself,” she suggests. “Light a candle, listen to music, take a walk, sit still, dance, stretch. Starting small can have a domino effect.”

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