I’ve never actually said, “Self-care is for sissies.”
But for years, my attitude projected this message loud and clear. My outward actions exhibited bravado — as if I was “above” self-care. I proudly said things like, “I don’t have time to be sick!” and “I’ll rest when I’m dead!”
However, all my bravado was merely a mask, covering how I really felt about myself.
You see, during the decades before I learned about being a Highly Sensitive Person, I thought there was something very wrong with me. Back then, I believed I was so defective that I didn’t deserve self-care.
Now I know that self-care is key to being the person God created me to be.
What is “Self Care”?
I used to think that self-care was synonymous with bubble bath or spa day (both of which I’ve tried … neither of which I liked).
But self-care encompasses so much more than “pampering”:
Self-care isn’t always chocolate cake and trips to the spa. Sometimes, it’s meal planning, going to bed early or letting go of a bad friend. It’s forgiving yourself for not meeting your own impossible standards, and understanding that you are worthy. Always. Self-care isn’t just luxuries, but a means for survival. @WholeSelfHealth/FB
I used to think self-care was merely self-indulgence in a fancy disguise.
Now I recognize self-care as a form of utmost self-respect.
And I know it looks different for each one of us.
Why You Need Your Own Self Care Plan
I posed this question to the members of the Sensitive and Strong Sisters Facebook group:
What kind of self-care DOES and does NOT work for you?
Here, in no particular order, are their ideas. Think of this as a build-your-own self care plan menu from which you can pick and choose:
50 Ideas for Your Self Care Plan
- making my time alone in the Bible reading and prayer a priority first thing in morning … and then prayer and memorizing a verse as I head to sleep.
- getting adequate sleep
- forgiving myself for making mistakes
- anything that gets me out of my head
- journaling or writing
- reading, especially something uplifting
- a favorite magazine
- listening to audio books
- alone time in a favorite coffee shop listening to an encouraging podcast
- a special playlist of my favorite music
- listening to Christian music and choosing to believe the songs that say how much God loves me.
- painting or drawing or coloring
- spending time scrapbooking or working on another craft
- making time for a few minutes of a hobby I enjoy each day
- watching a good show
- snuggling with someone special
- making time for friends (which usually takes some effort)
- talking with my best friend
- spending time with very close friends
- fellowship with question asking/listening friends
- breath control
- keeping my blood sugar even
- “nothing” time
- cooking good healthy food
- eating lots of fruits and veggies
- sipping my favorite coffee / tea
- taking a walk, especially in a quiet neighborhood
- fresh air
- time in nature
- trees, hills, mountains
- relaxing on the couch or a hammock
- bathing with Epsom salts and lavender essential oils
- a massage
- a face mask
- decompressing every day after work for at least 30 minutes as soon as I get home
- the beach
- limiting screen time
- water: drinking it, being near it, taking a hot bath or shower
- getting a haircut
- having my house cleaned so I am less critical of myself (“how could you have missed that spot?”)
- wearing soft, comfortable clothing
- reading my Bible everyday so I am reminded and grounded in the strength of a God who protects me.
Self-Care vs. Self-Sabotage
Most answers to “What does NOT work” boiled down to one core truth:
Too much of even a good thing turns self-care into self-sabotage.
One small scoop of ice cream in a bowl can be self-care. But reaching for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a spoon is a recipe for regret.
A little “retail therapy” can be a real reward: a pack of gum, a favorite pen, those boots that are finally on sale. But a splurge that means a trip back to the store for returns? Ugh.
5 minutes on Instagram or Facebook can be real connection with people you care about. But you’ve gotta stop long you find yourself scrolling aimlessly, hating your life more and more with each passing perfect picture.
How to Make Your Own Self Care Plan
Here’s how I suggest you use the “50 Ideas for Self-Care” List:
Then, print the Word doc and go through it with two pens: a Sharpie and a highlighter. Use the Sharpie to cross out any ideas that absolutely do not appeal to you. Use the highlighter to spotlight those that really do.
Next, use the “Save As” command to save a new version of the Word doc; name it My Self Care Plan. Revise it so the Sharpied items are deleted and the highlighted items are bolded. Move all the bolded items to the beginning of the list.
Finally, print several copies of your self care plan. Post them on your mirrors and in your frig; slip a copy in your Bible and your purse. Share with trusted friends and family who understand this truth:
“Real self-care does not mean that you care only for yourself. Self-care means that because you care for yourself, you can truly care for others, too.”