What is self-care?
Self-care means paying attention to and supporting your physical and mental health. As important as it is, it’s also one of the first things to fall by the wayside in times of stress (Harvard Health Blog, 2017). Although stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures, it can become unhealthy when it upsets one's daily functioning (American Psychological Association). During an infectious disease outbreak, stress may look like: fear and worry about one’s own health and the health of loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening chronic health problems, worsening mental health problems, and/or increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Still, there are helpful and healthy ways to deal with stress, make us feel better, and take care of ourselves. One way to deal with stress is to create a self-care plan.
Creating your own self-care plan
There are numerous templates and guides out there that you can use to help create your own self-care plan. Some are geared specifically for children, while others may be more appropriate for teens. Regardless of what your self-care plan looks like, creating one should involve reflecting on strategies you are currently using to cope with stress and evaluating whether they are helpful or not. This brief self-care assessment provides space for you to think about the things you are already doing to manage stress and maintain your physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health. You'll also want to consider your personal goals, additional practices that you may wish to incorporate into your routine, and potential obstacles to successfully using your self-care plan.
Following your self-care plan
Once you have your self-care plan, you may want to consider sharing it with friends and family, as they might be able to share additional ideas and strategies you hadn't thought of before or just be there as a source of support and encouragement for you. As you move forward, keep track of your progress by celebrating your successes and identifying any obstacles (University at Buffalo School of Social Work). Remember that taking care of yourself is an ongoing process: feel free to revise your self-care plan as your needs and goals change. Be kind and patient with yourself!