• Elizabeth Jenkins

How Good Are You at Self-Care? Use the Following Checklist to Find Out!

The Jenkins Self-Care Checklist

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Your mind and body are connected. The following self-care checklist can help you identify areas for improvement in your life. Engaging in these activities not only increases mental well-being and decreases the likelihood of depression or anxiety, but it also supports improved physical and interpersonal health. As you review the list, note the activities that you are already doing well. Then you may want to mark the areas that you would like to devote more time and attention to as you move forward. You may also decide to add additional items to this list.

Physical Nourishment

Sleep. Good sleep leads to good memory and good health. To determine how much sleep you need per night, note the amount that helps you to feel your best during the day. For some, this is 8 hours, and for others, it may be more or less.

Healthy Eating. A healthy plate includes ¼ carbs, ¼ protein, and ½ vegetables and fruit. Three meals per day with 1-2 healthy snacks maintain stable blood sugar and give you the energy you need to get through the day.

Drinking plenty of water. We are made up of 50-75% water. Life depends on us keeping it that way. The minimum amount of water a person should try to drink per day is 9-13 cups. Caffeine and alcohol work against your goal of being well-hydrated. When you fail to drink enough water, you are likely to have less energy and feel easily fatigued.

Physical Activity. Physical activity includes exercise and movement. Regularly engaging in movement is important for good health. Monitoring physical activity levels with a watch or smartphone can often help you to stay on track.

Preventive Health Care. Preventive health care includes scheduling your annual visits to your primary care provider, staying up to date with preventive vaccines, regular dental care, and engaging in positive health behaviors such as hand washing, good sleep hygiene, physical activity, healthy eating, smoking cessation, and limiting alcohol consumption.

Unplug. We have heard it a million times. Take time to unplug from the tv, the phone, and the computer.

Grooming. Taking care of your body reminds you that you are a valuable individual. Stay clean. Keep your nails manicured. Get regular haircuts. Shave.

Temperature. Keeping your surroundings at a comfortable temperature can improve mental alertness and mood during the day and quality of sleep at night.

Physical Touch. Physical touch is essential to good health. Hug your kids. Love your furry friends. Get a massage.

Comfortable clothing. Wear the clothes you like. Choose soft fabrics and comfortable shoes. Avoid tight-fitting clothes.

Relaxation. Yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and tai chi are three of many physical activities that can lead to physical relaxation and a mental sense of calm and acceptance.

Create your space. Find your space and make it your own. It doesn’t need to be a large space. Keep the space inviting, safe, and comfortable. Remember that your surroundings often represent your insides; chaos outside reflects chaos on the inside. Organizing your space will increase your sense of control. Having a comfortable living space reduces anxiety and stress.

Emotional Nourishment

Have fun. Seek out activities that you enjoy. Schedule them into your day. Refill.

Seek creativity and learning. Find something new to learn or do. Finding a creative activity that you enjoy doing can help you find flow, a state of being highly focused and “in the zone.” Flow is related to increased happiness.

Practice gratitude. Notice and appreciate the big and small things in your daily life. At the end of each day, you may choose to recall three new things you are grateful for. This simple exercise has been shown to increase happiness.

Finding meaning and purpose. Examine and prioritize your values and create goals that reflect who you are and who you would like to be. Complete a values identification exercise. There are many available for free online, for example,

Set limits. Practice assertive communication versus aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive communication. Describe the problem, ask about and listen to the other person’s experience or behavior, assert your needs, and negotiate a win-win solution. Practice saying “no” to things you don’t want to do.

Practice mindfulness. Practice paying attention to something, on purpose, without judgment. Making this activity a regular habit comes with all sorts of health benefits.

Notice inner experiences. Take time each morning and evening to take your “emotional pulse” and tune in to what you are feeling. Consider and challenge your thoughts, beliefs, judgments, and assumptions.

Appreciate nature. Take a walk outside. Pay attention to the world around you: the sounds, smells, and sights. It doesn’t cost a thing!

Affirm your own value. Notice what you are doing well and how you might do things even better yet. This subtle shift from looking backward to looking forward can do wonders for your outlook.

Social Support

Stay connected. Appreciate your family supports. Make time for friends. Ask for and accept help. Give support to others.

Groups. Make time for group interactions such as sports, creative activities, and spiritual activities.

Community. Connect with others through community action, spiritual activities, volunteer work, school activities, or neighborhood associations.

Volunteer to help others. Giving back brings a sense of value and purpose.

Add Your Own Ideas for Self-Care

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