Why you need a self-care plan and how to create one
No matter what industry you work in, 2023 is going to be another busy year, and one of the first things to go out the window is taking care of yourself. Self-care is important, not just for your physical health, but also for your mental well-being.
At enrichHR, we know first-hand the consequences when people don’t take the time to properly take care of themselves. Fortunately, as a business owner, you have the capacity to help instil good habits to help relieve stress during busy periods. You can also put some practices into place such as mandating lunch breaks, having a time-out area when staff need to get their thoughts together or even providing access to healthy snacks. Together as a team, you can put together a self-care plan and brainstorm some ideas to help your employees recognise before they start spiralling downwards and what to do about it before they implode.
What does self-care really mean?
When we talk about self-care, we are referring to the decisions you make on a regular basis to make sure you feel healthy and happy. This can include activities such as time for yourself where there are no interruptions from the kids or the outside world—just you, a coffee and a good book, taking a walk, retail therapy, soaking in the bath, meditation or spending time with friends who make you laugh. When you take the time and effort to incorporate these regular practices into your weekly routine, they are a sure-fire way to improve productivity and reduce stress and anxiety. Think about ways you can apply this to your work environment.
How do you cope with challenges, change or stress?
Everyone reacts differently to stress, change and challenges. Some of us just want to forget adulting and crawl back into bed, while others may display bad habits such as nail biting. You may find you crave food or alcohol and want to drown your sorrows, frantically pace up and down, yell or even shut yourself off from friends and family. It’s important to be honest with yourself when evaluating the signs that you’re struggling with your mental health. Talk to a work colleague, or your boss and if you’re not comfortable reaching out, find a professional or utilise your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
While self-care may seem rather indulgent, it is crucial to your physical and mental well-being. How can you possibly be expected to take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself?
How to create a self-care plan
It’s important to undertake this activity when you have the mental capacity to think clearly. Jot down workmates/friends who you find support in and are in a position to lend you a hand to complete tasks if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Make a list of the activities that made you feel more at peace the last time you experienced feeling extreme amounts of stress. It could be as simple as taking the time to walk barefoot on the grass or at the beach listening to a favourite playlist or cuddling a support puppy.
Display your plan in a place where you can easily see it as a reminder. You could use a dot journal or even use post-it notes around the house.
There are 4 simple steps to creating your own self-care plan
- Know the signs of when you’re about to spiral into being overly anxious, depressed or stressed.
- Understand the things you need to do on a daily basis to care for your physical and mental wellbeing
- Take time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not, and if you don’t enjoy something, or it’s too hard to organise, change it.
- If you are struggling, get professional help.
The Black Dog Institute, an independent, not-for-profit medical research centre specialising in mental health, teach the acronym of SETTLES as a way of managing your self-care plan.
- is for staying focused. Focus on the present, taking one day at a time. Don’t worry about what hasn’t come to fruition.
- is for engagement and making sure you stay engaged with other people and connected with your family, friends and support networks.
- is for thoughts. Recognise that thoughts are not facts. Don’t give negative thoughts space in your brain.
- is also for treating people with kindness. When you treat other people kindly, you will feel better about yourself and be less tempted to reflect on your stresses and challenges.
- is for limits. Limit the time you spend exposing yourself to things that make you anxious.
- is also for exercise. When you work out, you’ll feel better about yourself and sleep better.
- is for seeking help if you are depressed, stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious. There’s no shame in putting your hand up and asking for help. Talk to a friend, a GP, or even someone from the Black Dog Institute.
The information in this document is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.