How to Create a Self-Care Strategy That Actually Works

 

Self Care Strategy & Printable

Hello Wonderful, Creative You:

Today I’d like to change the way you think about self-care. Chances are that when you hear “self-care,” what comes to mind might be a series of activities – getting enough sleep, meditation, taking vacations, exercising, etc. These are obviously important habits. But I would suggest that more important than what you do to take care of yourself, is how you feel and think about yourself, your needs, and your feelings.

Could you honestly say that you love and care for yourself as much or as well as you do your best friend? Your spouse? Your child? That’s what I think self-care is all about. It’s a journey to self-respect, and self-love; it’s about being as good to you as you are to everyone else.

Self-Care Myths:

We get some pretty mixed messages in our society about self-care. On the one hand, we give lip service to the importance of self-care, but on the other, there’s a societal bias towards working too much, being “busy,” and a negative attitude toward doing “nothing,” or relaxing.  In my experience, most of the myths about self-care in our culture boil down to these 4 beliefs:

  • Self-care is selfish.
  • Self-care is expensive.
  • Self-care is time consuming.
  • I don’t deserve self-care.

These beliefs make committing to care for yourself difficult. I want to counter these messages. Here’s some of what I want you to know:

  • It is okay to take care of your needs and feelings. (If you don’t, who will take care of you?)
  • You can take care of yourself without being “selfish” or neglecting others. (There is room for everyone’s needs and feelings.)
  • Self-care doesn’t have to cost money or a lot of time. (Self-care is an attitude, not a trip to the Caribbean.)

It may be indeed be helpful for you to create a plan or a list of self-care activities now, or at some point, but I’m suggesting that your first self-care practice should be considering your own needs when you make decisions in all areas of your life. Instead of overwhelming yourself with an intense set of changes, why not get curious about how to act more like you love and respect yourself?

Anyone can use art to de-stress. Click  here for more information on how!

Positive Self-Care Habits

Here’s some things you might keep in mind as you adopt a self-care attitude:

Positive Self Care Habits

I think approaching self-care in a mindful way is helpful. For example, this week I got to my yoga class a few minutes late because I was trying to squeeze in too many things instead of pacing myself. The instructor started us in a supported, reclined pose.  When I got myself propped into it and closed my eyes, my body immediately released and said, YES! I knew I needed to slow down and focus on relaxing, but I was surprised at how hungry my body seemed for nurturing. It was a wake up call to start paying more attention.

Good self-care is not about always getting it right, or doing it “perfectly,” it’s a trial and error process. I get it wrong all the time. Sometimes you will get it right, and other times not, and so like many things in life, you keep trying.

I also believe that your intentions in self-care really matter. If you go to the gym because you are afraid that others will think you are fat, or join yoga because your friend dragged you, or never speak up to family about where you want to go on vacation, your “self-care” activities may not feed your soul in the way you need them to.

I know it might sound corny, or stuck up, because it’s not something we usually talk about, but good self-care is born of true self-love. Self-love takes practice, and an intention to learn to love yourself and do good for yourself. Those are the most important aspects of a good self-care practice.

 

Your “Self-Care Resume”

When I am focusing on something, like self-care, I find it’s helpful to focus on what I am already doing well. What would it be like if you focused on the positive self-care you have already done? This is an idea I adapted from Ariane de Bonvoison’s book, The First 30 Days. She suggests making a “change resume -” where you list all of the changes that you have weathered successfully.  I love this idea. What if we shift it slightly and apply it to self-care instead?

What are the ways you have prioritized yourself or taken care of your needs and feelings? I’ve created a printable PDF sheet so that you can create a “self-care resume.” For some this might be a challenging exercise. You might need to look at the examples for ideas, or write down small things. I invite you to remember that we all struggle with self-care sometimes, but we also do it well, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Dig deep and try to come up with at least 1 thing for each category.

Here’s a sample of some things that might appear in each self-care category:

  • Emotional / Relational:

I don’t talk to Melissa so much anymore, even though I care about her, she always makes me feel bad about myself.

  • Physical:

I’ve paid and committed to a weekly yoga class for 6 weeks.

  • Spiritual

That hike I went on when I was 16 where I just sat for 30 minutes looking over the valley – I felt so connected.

  • Creative

I doodled at work yesterday when I was stressed instead of checking my phone.

  • What I’d like to focus on now:

I’d like more places where I feel I belong. I wonder if I could try a meet up? The local artists’ association?

 

PRINTABLE SELF-CARE WORKSHEET. Click to download and print:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 8.53.49 AM

Self-Care Resume

 

Make a Self-Care Statement:

Hopefully, once you have done the Self-Care Resume exercise, you will have some sense of your self-care strengths, and perhaps also some areas for improvement. My second invitation to you is to create a “Self-Care Statement.” The statement is a reminder, tailored specifically to you, about how to focus on your self-care needs.

Decorate a notecard, write your statement and hang it somewhere visible so you read it everyday.

Here’s mine:

Self Care Statement

If you’d like to do some art journaling like the kind I show in this post, you might check out my video course on intuitive art journaling, or my e-book on how to get started in an art journal. Also, people frequently ask where to find the tan paged journal I often use in my posts, you can find it here.*

How to Turn a Self-Care Attitude into Action

When you truly consider your own needs and feelings in decision making, it shifts your choices.  When you tune into your feelings and your body, some of your unmet needs will likely be more clear. Sometimes part of the key in doing self-care is quieting the body and mind enough to actually listen to yourself. Much like what happened to me in yoga class.

Once you listen to yourself, following through on meeting your needs is often the easy and enjoyable part. If making this shift in attitude alone or with the support of a friend feels overwhelming, you may want to partner with a therapist who can help you.

 

More Self-Care Ideas

This site is all about how to use art to express and explore your feelings, and de-stress. Whether or not you consider yourself an artist, art journaling is a practice that is accessible to everyone – an anything goes, write down what you feel, paint blob the colors of your mixed emotions, doodle, draw, collage, and get messy, let loose, and have fun. When you’re done, you’ll likely find you feel a lot lighter, and clear headed. When we are little, we all know how to make art to express and destress, sometimes we just forget that we know how. There are several ways you can learn to use art for stress relief:

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 7.00.04 PM

 

Join Creative Self-Care, our private FB group for ongoing support and ideas on ways to use art as a tool for healing and self-discovery.

Take one of my Online Classes for step by step techniques and guidance on using art for self-care and learning to let go! Or, check out my e-book on how to art journal.

Check out my Art Tutorials page, it’s free and fun!

Find out how to do self-care in 5 minutes.

 

Share Your Self-Care Wisdom and Your Questions!

What do you think is important for a good self-care attitude? Will you share it in the comments?

 

Self-care techniques, drawing for anxiety, anxiety drawing, self-care tips

Also, be sure to get your free Guide to Creative Self-Care: This is a six day guided course with a self-assessment, self-care myths, information on creating an art studio even in the smallest spaces, inspirational art journaling video, and artsy self-care tutorials. Grab your spot now!

Sign Me Up!

 

 

 

 

 

*This is an affiliate link, if you choose to click and purchase something, you will support the creative self-care work at Mindful Art Studio with a small commission for my referral at no added cost to you. Thank you!

12 Comments

  1. Sara Jacobovici

    Amy, thank you so much for helping me break out of my cycle of trying self-care and failing miserably. Reading your article has already started the shift and I look forward to looking into and following through with your suggestions.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Sara!

      Thank you so much for your comment and for reading. It’s so exciting to hear that it’s a helpful frame for you. Self-care can feel like a bit of a “job” sometimes, and I’m keen to help folks find ways to make it more effective and efficient, and mostly, to feel better! Please let us know what you discover is helpful, and any tips that you think might apply to some other folks who are reading.

      Cheers,

      Amy

      Reply
  2. Dorlee

    Hi Amy,

    I love your creative “self care” resume approach to embarking on an improved self care journey.

    It validates the efforts you’ve been making up until now while encouraging you to do more.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Dorlee!

      That’s a great way to put it! I feel like we so often get down on ourselves about so many things, I love the idea of building on what is already working, because usually, a lot is! What’s working for you, Dorlee?

      Cheers,

      Amy

      Reply
  3. Jan

    Thank You

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Jan!

      Welcome to Mindful Art Studio! I’m so glad that you found this post on self-care helpful. It’s an issue that I’ve been passionate about since grad school many years ago. I also feel strongly that I want to share any little tips and tricks that work for me with others in case it works for someone else too. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

      I hope you have found that your self-care resume is actually quite full between all the little, and big things you do for yourself ongoing.

      Cheers,

      Amy

      Reply
  4. Kiz Tullous

    This year I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Like most the name sounded familiar but I really knew nothing about it. It can be caused by prolonged stress amoung a couple other ways. Stress can trigger a flare after you think you have been doing every thing right to controll the pain and fatigue to be at a managable level. I dont work currently because of my unpredictable condition. Always when working my self care was that on pay day I would buy myself a new outfit or make up and on a more stressful day I motivated myself by going out to lunch at a great relaxing place. That was my extent of my self care. After being diagnosed I realize my self care has to be a main focus and your article may be what Ive needed to help me get this started… so I thank you.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Kiz:

      Welcome to Mindful Art Studio! I am guessing there are a lot of folks who can identify with your story. I’m heartened to hear that some of the information here will be helpful to you. It’s amazing how our bodies can pull us to a halt and make us pay attention isn’t it?

      What are you doing creatively, I wonder? Do you cook? Write? Draw? Paint? Crochet? You might also enjoy our Facebook group, Creative Self-Care. It’s a really wonderful group of supportive, creative folks all trying to create and take care of themselves well: https://www.facebook.com/groups/creativeselfcare/

      Cheers,
      Amy

      Reply
  5. John Drury

    Hi Amy
    Your article is one of the best I have seen in my research on self-care. Congratulations! You outline a model for self-care that is obviously real in your own life. And it is workable for anyone. Can I encourage you to keep thinking around this. You are a leader in this area, whether you know it or not.
    I am writing a book on Self-Leadership which includes a whole section on self-care.
    Your article and the attitudes behind it which obviously fuel your creativity are profound and need to be shared.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi John:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment here. Figuring out how to make self-care workable in each person’s life is such an individual process, and I find a lot of it is about the attitude we have about taking care of ourselves. I’m so glad you found this helpful. Good luck with your book and all your endeavors. Cheers! Amy

      Reply
  6. Kristen Elyse

    Your self-care printable is fantastic! Self-care is so important and it takes more people like you spreading that in the world for others to latch on! Self-care is not selfish. You can’t help others if you are not taken care of first.
    Thank you for writing this!

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Kristen!

      How awesome that you dropped by! I’m so glad that you find the printable helpful.
      Happy day to you!
      Amy

      Reply

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