Self-Care for the New Year (Part 1 of 3)
The new year provides a great opportunity to reflect on the past and make commitments for the future. In this spirit I am posting a series of step-by-step activities developed by the University of Buffalo School of Social Work to aid in developing your own individualized “Maintenance Self-Care Plan.” Feel free to join along here and post comments below, or jump ahead by visiting the UB website yourself. Be sure to click on the BOLDED links to download PDFs. (All material below is quoted)
PART 1: ASSESSMENT
A “maintenance self care plan” refers to the activities that you have identified as important to your well-being and that you have committed to engage in on a regular basis to take care of yourself. As we mentioned before, there is no “one-size-fits-all” self-care plan. There are, though, some general principles: take care of your physical health, manage your stress and reduce it where possible, honor your emotional and spiritual needs, nurture your relationships, and find balance in your school and work life. In other words, to take care of yourself you need to make a commitment to attend to all the domains of your life: body, mind, emotions, spirit, relationships, and school/work. However, because we each live unique lives with unique demands, each of us need to figure out what that means for us and how to apply it in our lives.
There are some straightforward steps to guide us in this process.
1. How do you cope now? Identify what you do now to manage stress in your life and assess how well suited these strategies are to your long term health and well-being by completing the Lifestyle Behaviors (“Is your life causing you stress?”) assessment. This can help you determine whether the coping strategies you presently use when you are stressed are, on balance, good for you or perhaps not so good. Consider how you could reduce your tendency (if you have one) to turn to coping strategies on the “negative” side of this ledger and employ those on the “positive” side instead. In fact, decreasing or eliminating at least one “negative” coping strategy can be one of the goals of your Maintenance Self-Care plan.
2. What would you like to do? Complete the Self-Care Assessment. Filling out this checklist should highlight the good things you are already doing for yourself and whether there is an imbalance in the areas in which you practice self-care. It can also give you some ideas for other things you can do in the future to help prevent stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue and also to maintain and enhance your well-being. Make a note of the items that you would like to add (or add more of) to your self-care repertoire. In considering this, try to be sure that each domain of self-care is well represented. If you think of things that are not included in this list just add them at the end.
(Prepared by Lisa D. Butler, PhD, based in part on materials provided by Sandra A. Lopez, LCSW, ACSW, University of Houston, Graduate School of Social Work)