3 Steps to Create a Self-Care Plan

Written by Dr. Eric Perry
Image Credit: Pixabay

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~Oscar Wilde

In one way or another, we are all caretakers. Caretaking can be found in all aspects of life. Some of us are caretakers in a professional capacity. We may work in mental health, the medical field, or other professions that require us to take care of others. Others assume the role of a caretaker in their daily lives as parents or in other familial relationships. I believe that taking care of a loved one when it is not your profession is one of the most rewarding as well as one of the most difficult roles a person can have.

In my work as a mental health professional, I come across many caretakers who forget the golden rule of self-care, “Be as kind to yourself as you are to a friend.” As caretakers, we all need to understand the importance of caring for ourselves. It is not a selfish indulgence, it is a necessity in order for us to recharge and be well. It is essential for all of us. We all need self-care to fill our souls and minds with the necessary fuel in order to be strong enough to care for those around us and most importantly to care for ourselves. Self-care is highly personal and will differ from person to person in relation to one’s life and duties, but there is one core element that must be present and this is self-love.

I would like to inspire you to get addicted to self-care. Make self-care a habit and part of your life. In a recent study from 2009, researchers found that on average it takes 66 days for a habit to become ingrained. Some habits may take a shorter amount of time and others may take much longer. The key to adopting new behaviors is to make them a routine and not go back to old behaviors. I want to challenge you to start a ritual of self-care behaviors so that they become part of your everyday life. Remember, you are worth every single moment you spend on yourself!

Here are 3 steps to create a self-care plan:

1. YOU are number one
The first thing you must realize is that you are the most important person in your life. You must be your number one. It is imperative that you take care of yourself mentally and physically as well or better than you take care of anyone else. Imagine yourself in the driver’s seat of a very large car. In the car is everyone you care for in one way or another. In order to take care of everyone in this car, it is vital that you first take care of yourself. The journey of life is long and there will be many passengers accompanying you. You cannot fall asleep at the wheel. You need to be healthy and alert for any unexpected turns and events that may appear on the route. You need to ask yourself what habits do you need to implement to perform at your optimum level and make the appropriate changes.

2. Take an inventory of your physical health
Have an honest reflection about your overall physical health. When was the last time you had a physical? A yearly physical checkup should be a big part of your self-care. A doctors visit will assure you that everything is running correctly and that you are on the right path. Implement changes one at a time and if you happen to miss a day don’t give up! Remember it took a lifetime to create some of your behaviors so give yourself a break if you happen to stumble.

Here are some ways to take care of your physical health. You may want to include some of your own.

a) Have a regular sleep routine

b) Eat a balanced diet as often as you can

c) Continue or start an exercise program

d) Take your lunch breaks

e) Use your sick and vacation days from work
Work will survive without you and I promise it will be there when you get back!

3. Mental health
A balanced mind and body are essential to good health. Many times we are so focused on our physical health that we forget to check in on our mental health. It is important for self-care that we do not neglect how we are feeling.

Here are some ways to check in with yourself:

a) Be mindful of your stress-level
On a scale of one to ten, how do you feel? Some of us may have a higher tolerance than others and be able to tolerate more stress. Respect how you feel and do not wait until you are at level 10 to take a step back. Decide beforehand at what level it is time to take a break and give yourself permission to disengage from whatever you are doing.

b) Talk
As a mental health professional, I believe in the therapeutic benefits of talking. Whether you choose a professional or a close friend it is important to talk. This is a great way to make sense of what is manifesting in your life and to help you determine if professional help is needed.

c) Practice relaxation techniques
Whether its something as simple as a walk or something more complicated like playing an instrument. Do something that relaxes you.

d) Stay connected with family and friends

e) Spend some quality time with yourself
It is imperative that you set aside time for yourself. You can decide how much time and how often. Remember, if you do not replenish yourself you will not be able to take care of yourself much less anyone else.

I would love to know in what capacity you serve as a caretaker and how do you take care of yourself?

The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a professional relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a medical professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.

Dr. Perry

Copy of Dr. Eric Perry

“I help ambitious and high achieving individuals manifest a life of success and fulfillment in order to achieve the life they truly desire.”

Dr. Eric Perry | drericperry.com

The materials and content contained in this website are for general information only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users of this website should not rely on the information provided for their own health needs. All specific questions should be presented to your own health care provider.

In consideration for your use of and access to this website, you agree that in no event will Dr. Eric Perry be liable to you in any manner whatsoever for any decision made or action or non-action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this website.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.


74 responses to 3 Steps to Create a Self-Care Plan

  1. A wonderful reminder beautifully put. Self Care is truly a difficult practice to sustain. For me, music is my medicine whether it be singing (not sure I really can carry a tune), drumming, humming or playing the guitar. Recently, I’ve been focusing on tuning my heart.

    Another fabulous article Eric. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoyed reading this; confirmation. As the Executive Secretary for three divisions, mom of two adult children, and a household to take care all on my own, my days are quite full to say the least. After a 9-hr day job, I really have to find some time for self care; unwinding. Some of the ways are a hot bath/shower (depends on the day) with a relaxing lavender bath substance. Reading, journaling or writing my next story is another favorite. On weekends I make time for at least one movie at home, maybe reach out to friends via phone call or get together for coffee or a meal. And of course, there’s always that ever-relaxing pedicure! Ahhhhhh. 🙂 Sometimes it’s just spending quiet time; listen to what the soul has to say.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Maya Northen says:

    These (above) are all critical to my self-care plan. I also try to make sure I get enough alone time. As an introvert with social anxiety, I need it to refresh – I work at a front desk where I’m literally in front of people all day. Finding quiet time – weather it’s taking my lunch break to eat in our work garden by myself while at work, writing in my journal or doing yoga or meditating at home, or just spending some time on my own, the “alone time” where my body and brain can refresh a bit is so important to my self care.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Clara says:

    Seriously, I take a bath at any moment. I used to think it took a lot of planning and you had to find the candles, get everything in the house clean first, find the perfect candles, exact music, books-perfect, Etc and snacks. Then I found it is best sometime to just drop everything and as long as clean go away into different world- bath. at any moment.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. nshami14 says:

    I schedule regular monthly wellness days off and either go to the spa or spend time in nature on that day. I have done it pretty consistently for two years now and it seems to be my way of taking care of myself in a rather dysfunctional workplace. Also, yoga, meditation, acupuncture and water aerobics keep me sane and happy too!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. angharadeyre says:

    I’m really bad at setting aside time for myself or doing anything really fulfilling with the time when I get it. Possibly the best thing I’ve started doing for myself is taking 10 mins to meditate in the morning, and once a week going to a coffee shop before work to journal, blog and write. These comments have given me some great ideas for more things to try though!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like the idea of self care. I think for some people the concept of self-love is too hard to access because they don’t have very high self esteem but self care is something that might be easier to grasp. I just interviewed a coach yesterday who found self-love hard to access on her journey. I was thinking to myself maybe calling it “self care” might have made it easier and then I saw your post. Thanks for this. some good tips in here.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ink 'em Down says:

    Great article! As always, your posts are great to read, Eric, and so relevant and helpful!
    Two things in particular stood out for me: one, where you gave an example of ourselves being the driver in a huge car and we must take care of ourselves first in order to take care of the passengers (the people around us). And two, where you explained the importance of talking about our feelings. It really does help. I especially liked how you put it: ‘Give your words and emotions flight. Don’t swallow your words to later choke on them..’ Very true that!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Lorena says:

    Great reminder Eric thank you! I have a morning chanting practice that is like my reset button on my thoughts and emotions. It took over a year to make it as habitual as brushing my teeth, but once it was, it paid off exponentially. My ability to think more clearly and recenter when upset became much stronger. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was really something I needed to read and be reminded of right now. Thank you for sharing this in a language that was encouraging and simple but also very practical and easy to consider and put into place. When feeling so overwhelmed, self car feels very hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ana P. Rose says:

    Great post. It seems I’m on the right track for a few things. Only until recently though. I was too overwhelmed with a couple of things in life, such as family, friends, politics, career choice, financial troubles, but I finally decided to work on my mind and physical health. It’s work in progress, but I feel better. 👍 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ana P. Rose says:

    I forgot to mention, I am not a professional. So I am glad to read your post because it reaffirmed a couple of things, like working on the self, that I was wondering about. Plus, I learned something new overall. Thank you. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Suzanne says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been caring for my eighty-seven-year-old mother with multiple health problems and Dementia, and you provided some great points and tips. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I am a nurturer by birth .Born and bred to love .At the same time this has been my tragic downfall.I feel it’s easier to treat a loved one with more kindness than one would treat oneself .It is more natural for me to show love another than to cope with the lack thereof I have for myself.
    I am 19; second year Varsity student ,aspiring to be a clinical psychologist. My attempt as self care involves many of the things mentioned in this post .I believe in the balance between mind ,body and spirit .Meditation ,exercise ,trying to maintain a constant eating plan ,getting enough rest ect is all well and good .However disruptions in our daily lives is part of life and I often find myself lead astray from any kind of path to invest in self .It is much easier to invest in others .
    Your perspectives is enlightening .An instruction guide on how to love self is a must because there are people like me ;who find it less than natural to love themself.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Good advice! I was Mom’s memory, helper, and caretaker until she died. Even if loved ones are living in assisted living, where they get a great deal of care, children may also have to look over many aspects of their care and daily needs. I put myself second, which only created problems. I also put my job in too important a role. Now my biggest project is myself so that I can nurture well being and good health so as to be able to love better ultimately. I found I was battling depression when neglecting myself. Thank you for your articles!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. winknbees says:

    Writing and reading, remembering to eat and you sleep… still a work in progress. I at least can recognize when I am becoming slack now. Thank you for the reminder

    Liked by 2 people

  17. neakris29 says:

    Thank you. It makes me feel I little bit embarrassed, like I am not “normal”, but who is? With my ex I gave all the care I could, from cooking, cleaning, doing some of his errands and soothing him when he had a bad mood without much in return. There was no “me”. Only “we”. I don’t really complain at that time, but now he left, so I am completely empty and lost. I am good on a scale of physical care of myself, but mental need so much work to do, because stress level is overwhelming. Thank you for the information. I need to try harder

    Liked by 4 people

  18. I was a caregiver for a number of years and everything in the article is true, you can not be effective until you care of yourself. I made that a priority and I was able to care for my mother for over 10 years because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jackie says:

    Love the car analogy. I’ve always heard you need to put your oxygen mask on first before you help others but the car analogy hit home for me even more. Definitely something I need a lot of work on right now. Thanks for a great article!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. suesuzzz says:

    Needed to hear this or shall I say read it again… maybe it will stick lol…
    I am disabled and take care of my dad to the point I had to leave my home and live with him the last 7 years… very lil “me” time but I am getting a lot better at having my time as well…
    Thanks for this great information that I will put to use…Like now lol this is my time…lol

    Liked by 1 person

  21. gaillovesgod says:

    This is a very good post. The scenario of being the driver of a car with passengers was a perfect example. I and my 3 passengers, of which 2 I was caretaker of, found out the hard and scary way a few years back.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. The F Word says:

    I love this post 🙂 you can’t look after others without looking after yourself first, something I learnt to well as a midwife, mother, fibro sufferer and care giver to a family member who needed palliative care. Have firmly learnt my lesson!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. turning20web says:

    The post is very insightful… I do take care of myself.. And keep myself motivated.. No matter what happens.. I listen read about how to control our thoughts as they affect our health as well….

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Always a great reminder. I take care of my mom by bringing her to her appointments, shopping, and if she is unwell. I have three siblings, but my job is flexible so it works most of the time.

    I also run a foundation in memory of my son who passed away from cancer. I feel like the caretaker of this organization to help as many kids as possible. I have to admit I fall behind in the self care department during September when we have our big race. Race was a success, but my body broke down with a nasty sinus infection. My question is how to keep consistent with self care. I do great for a while, but when big events and stressors show up, I don’t take care of myself.
    Each day I begin again!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. khayceelyn says:

    a reminder for self, good thing that I found this article.. feeling down today but after I read this am better now. a lot of people need this

    Liked by 1 person

  26. This is some great advice! Me, as a workaholic, I think I sometimes exaggerate at work and forget to take breaks. I love what I do, but that should not be an excuse. I’m planning to change my work routine next week so I can have more breaks and do more exercise/stretching. This post only made more aware of how important that is. Thanks! =)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. timholman says:

    Reading this felt like I was in the same room with you. Thank you for your kind and wise advice. I feel bad for taking days off. Last year I had two weeks left of vacation and all of my sick days. Thanks for the reminder that it will all be there when I get back!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. kemibon says:

    I am so glad I saw this post. I am reading this at a point in my life when I have come to the realization that I am good at taking care of everyone else except myself. So I told myself that this year would be different. The insights here are very useful and I will be doing more self care so I can be at my optimum to give to others. Thanks Doc.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Having just started Talking Therapy I am learning about self-care but boy is it hard. I cannot help myself at times. I give, give, give and very rarely take. Taking time for myself cause me as much stress as everything else as I do see it as being selfish. I lead a busy somewhat hectic life and try so very hard to ensure every single moment gets 100% doesn’t leave much for me. I have a long way to go before I can heal myself after years of abuse, not only physical and mental but from always putting other things and people first.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. violakaroly says:

    I think self-love is the most important aspect of self-care, and in many cases, the most challenging. This blog post is a gem. Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  31. thelittlegirlsmove says:

    I do not love me… But after reading this I think am starting my journey towards self care

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Man, I really like this article. I particularly like the statement, “eat a balanced diet as often as you can” 😁. The philosophy of incrementalism is something I’ve recently started applying to my daily routine. Massive, all or nothing changes simply do not work for me, or most people I suspect.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Ms. L says:

    I love this post so much! I found out how important it was to love oneself, the hard way. So of course now, I preach this all the time 🙂
    I go on special solo dates, twice a week. I celebrate the entire month of my birth. I check in with myself a few times during the day. And if something is bothering me, I stop what I’m doing and figure out a. what’s wrong b. what do I need to do to help myself feel better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Hello Ms. L, thank you so much for sharing your insight. I love the idea of celebrating the entire month of your birth. I may do the same!✨

      Liked by 2 people

  34. LovingSummer says:

    I’m a carer in terms of mother of two young boys and battle daily with MS symptoms that can be hard to manage. I’m also in therapy so just beginning to think about this strange concept called ‘self care’ and something stirred a little inside me when I read your article. So I think I’ll give it a bit more thought 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  35. doubledacres says:

    Wow! Love your post. I am in the full time self care mode. I am a loner by choice but happy with life and loving it. At 65 I have done my share of taking care of people and badly neglected myself. I helped my mom care for my grandmother. It was heart breaking watching my grandmother lose her memory.
    I concentrate on myself now. I have friends and family I visit. There is a lot of freedom in being a loner and finally doing what you want to do. Mentally I feel better than I have ever felt. No drama or negativity. I even got rid of the tv and rediscovered Thoreau , Emerson and Muir. Is it selfish of me? Maybe but I am happy and content. What you think doctor. Love your posts!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Queenie says:

    Thank you for this post…. self care is definitely something i have been practicing recently and it has amazing effects on my mood and resilience, which then affects my actions.
    love to you all x

    Liked by 3 people

  37. jojobateman says:

    It is important when you are busy to make an appointment with yourself in your diary it is easy to over commit to work but you never feel guilty if you simply say “i actually have an appointment that day’ (with me, myself, I). That is my personal tip for self care for all you busy people out there xx

    Liked by 3 people

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