NOURISHING SELF CARE FOR THERAPISTS AND TEACHERS
by Christina Pandolfo, MS, OTR/L (School-Based Occupational Therapist, Ascend Rehab Services, Inc.)
Part 4: Creating Your Own Self-Care Plan
This is the last of our 4-Part Series on Self-Care where we get started on creating our own individualized self-care plan. If you have already embarked on this journey, you may find some additional tips and reinforcements here to help keep you going:
Practice Gratitude Daily
Practice Time Management
Meal Plan for the Week
Establish a Support System: Reaching out and establishing healthy connections with your friends and family help to reduce stress.
Balance Your Time: Saying ‘NO’ to certain people or invitations can be an important and powerful part of self-care. Are you feeling overextended or overwhelmed with invites and activities? It is OK to politely refuse any invites or activities if deciding to go will create more stress for you. If you force yourself to go, you may just end up feeling overwhelmed and resentful!
Here are some more ideas besides saying “NO” to help you balance your time:
Schedule your self-care into your day. It is easy to get wrapped up in projects and other people and ignore your own needs!
Creating a workable ‘To-Do’ list can give you more of a sense of control over your time and things that need to get done. After creating a to-do list, just pick 1-3 items that need to get done that day, so you will not overwhelm yourself. A favorite workable ‘to-do’ list of mine is called a ‘Brain Dump’ – list everything that is on your mind that you need to do, then separate the items into three categories, ‘Top Three’, ‘Easy Three’, and ‘Next Three’. It is very helpful for my brain to organize my to-do list in this format, and helps to organize and prioritize what needs to be completed.
Leave in plenty of time for your work commute or wherever you may be going, to avoid rushing, which can contribute to feeling overwhelmed
Play & laugh as often as possible!
Pick one or two items to work on, so you don’t overwhelm yourself when trying to decrease your stress – that would defeat the purpose! Know you are building your stress tool kit and remember to be gentle with yourself during times of stress and when you are overwhelmed. Your body needs self-love and compassion more than ever!
Creating Your Own Self-Care Plan
In part I of this series, we reflected on where we stand with our own self-care. In part 2, we reviewed the effects of chronic stress on the body, and how we can begin to repair the effects of stress. Creating a daily self-care plan or routine helps to set the tone for the day and allows you some time to focus on yourself and your health. If possible, you can try to wake up a bit earlier than normal (like 15-20 minutes) to carve out some space to begin a nourishing routine.
Is there anything that you have read that resonated with you and feels like something you would like to try? Here are questions to help create your own template for a personalized self-care plan.
GET STARTED WITH CREATING YOUR PERSONALIZED SELF-CARE PLAN
Take the time today to get a notebook or journal and start writing these down:
My Morning Routine Upon Waking:
Nourishing Nutrition to help support my body under stress:
Breathing Exercises to try when I experience stress:
Daily/Weekly Movement I can commit to (including simple stretching):
My Evening Rituals Before Bedtime:
Something I love to do that makes me happy:
Thank you for going on this self-care journey with me! This blog series is based on my previous work as ‘The Therapeutic Foodie,’ conducting self-care workshops and caregiver stress reduction education as an Occupational Therapist and certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant.
Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions on this series or for additional resources.