Do you know how to take care of yourself?
Do you know how to calm yourself? Soothe yourself?
Do you even know why you should?
The best way to take care of yourself in the healthiest and most beneficial way is to create your own self-care toolbox. Otherwise, it’s natural to absent-mindedly choose some less healthy ways. We all know the airplane oxygen mask analogy. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary! It’s up to you to know what works and then choose a healthy one.
In each category below, pick which ones appeal to you. Try them all out and see which works best! You may be surprised. Then, when you’re feeling depleted, anxious, or any other negative energy or emotion, pull out your toolbox and take care of yourself. Keep it handy. This will increase your threshold of stability and tolerance over time.
- Listen to music, a podcast, or relaxing sounds
- Draw, paint, color, or doodle
- Have a bath
- Write or journal
- Read a book
- Mindfulness in nature
- Watch a Ted Talk or learn about something you’re interested in
- Practice deep breathing
- Watch the sunset or sunrise
- Take a nap, rest
- Do a puzzle
- Call a trusted friend or family member
- Organize a meal
- Meet someone for coffee
- Host a dinner party
- Leave a note for someone, even a stranger
- Plan a getaway with someone
- Write a letter to someone
- Help someone
- Smile at a stranger
- Try a class like art, cooking, or dancing
- Pick a hobby you enjoyed as a kid
- Learn to bake or make your favorite meal
- Join a community or small group
- Find a volunteer opportunity you are passionate about
- Meal plan and prep
- Organize healthy snacks
- Drink lots of water
- Visit a farmer’s market or other local market
- Have a picnic outside
- Treat yourself to your favorite dessert or food
- Practice forgiveness– yourself or others
- Set goals
- Practice gratitude
- Make a vision board
- Notice your thoughts and feelings
- Practice self-acceptance
- Write a letter to yourself
- Yell or scream, cry, laugh
- Ponder what advice you’d give yourself
Move It Time:
- Go for a walk or run
- Play a sport
- Workout with a friend
- Pull up a dance online (YouTube, Tik Tok, etc)
- Lift weights
- Tense and relax each muscle
- Ride a bike or scooter
- Try yoga, pilates, or stretching
- Clean up
- Walk a dog
- Read the Bible or spiritual book
- Notice the connectedness of life
- Find and memorize a great affirmation for yourself, repeat as needed
- Learn grounding techniques: walking barefoot, squeezing clay, notice all your senses
- Buy a new book
- Book a massage, facial, manicure/pedicure
- Have an at-home face mask
- Buy yourself some flowers or a candle
- Get ready or even dress up
- Light a candle
- Get a shower
- Wear cozy, comfortable clothing
- Use a hot or cold pack, or wrap yourself in a blanket
Now use the items that you checked (or come up with some new ones on your own) and put them into these categories. Use them as you need them!
What Comes Next?
You’ve read the blogs, tips, and posts with catchy ideas. You’re taking the steps and making progress, but you crave more. You want answers about why habits have formed in your life and how you can take steps to ensure they don’t take hold again.
I feel happy when:
I feel rested when:
I feel joyful when:
I feel calm when:
Realize when you are outside your window of tolerance, this often can feel like your plate is full. As your emotions move up or down outside your window of tolerance, use your toolbox to help you. Remember that stress and trauma can cause your window of tolerance to shrink, but using your toolbox will help to expand it.
Hyperarousal: Feeling of increased responsiveness, anxious, agitated, angry, out of control, wanting to fight/attack or run away
Window of Tolerance: Feeling of balance, calm state of mind, relaxed, in control, function effectively, can handle challenges
Hypoarousal: Feeling of decreased responsiveness, emotional numbness, exhaustion, depression, losing track of time, wanting to shut down or freeze
Kristi Schwegman is a psychotherapist specializing in helping couples develop healthy relationships, whether dating, engaged, or married. She also draws from her Christian-based approach to lead individuals in becoming aware of the limiting beliefs that can get them stuck.
We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!