How to Create a Self-Care Strategy That Actually Works
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.
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:
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.
I’ve paid and committed to a weekly yoga class for 6 weeks.
That hike I went on when I was 16 where I just sat for 30 minutes looking over the valley – I felt so connected.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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?
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!
*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!