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Self-care checklist

Your ultimate guide to taking care of yourself when it all just feels a bit overwhelming.

By Faith Richardson

Whilst there’s no right or wrong way to practice self-care, sometimes it can help to have a little cheat sheet to refer to for the days when you feel a bit lost, overwhelmed or just need a helping hand to make it through the day.

The Basics

For the days where everything feels like too much. These are some very small things you can do that will help you feel better with absolutely minimal effort required.

Brush your teeth – even if you crawl out of bed into the bathroom, brush them, and return to bed. Sometimes something as small as brushing your teeth can feel like too much. Make this the one thing you do today, even if the rest of your day is spent back under the duvet – and we bet once you’ve moved it’ll be easier to keep going.

Turn off your phone notifications – give yourself permission to not have to be at the constant beck and call of anyone and everyone who wants to get in touch today. E-mails, texts, phone calls, even social media. This isn’t to say you can’t check them – but take away the sense of urgency and responsibility they create. You can check your messages when you feel ready to, not because you feel obligated to respond.

Get some fresh air – something as simple as opening your window and standing next to it can boost your mood dramatically. If going for a walk feels like too much, take 5 minutes to just stand at your back door or by an open window and just enjoy the feeling of fresh air with no distractions. This 5-minutes can make a huge difference to your mood.

Boost your surroundings

Our homes are an extension of ourselves, and more often than not when we’re struggling with mental health, or even just feeling a bit overwhelmed by life, it starts to manifest around you. Dishes pile up, washing goes undone and mess can start to accumulate. Just a couple of jobs around the house can make you feel more in control and ready to tackle the other stuff.

Wash your clothes

Laundry is the ultimate pay off household task with minimal effort required. Grab the pile off your chair/bed/floor and get them washed. Hanging them out to dry on a washing line also means you probably won’t need to worry about ironing afterwards. Putting on freshly washed clothes, even if they’re just your pjs, helps you feel more in control, and once you’ve got one small job done, the bigger ones feel easier to manage.

Sort something out

It can be as big as the loft, or as small as that drawer we all have that becomes a dumping ground for takeaway menus, batteries and random cables that you haven’t used in years. Whatever you feel up to tackling, doing some sorting helps you feel like you’re taking control again with an obvious accomplishment at the end. Work through your underwear drawer or the pile of mismatched socks in the washing bin. Throw out the old/broken/don’t even know what it is or when you acquired it and put the rest back tidily. Job done.

Make your bed

Making your bed when you get up in the morning takes seconds, but it feels so much nicer to get into at night. If you want to go all out, put some fresh bedding on and fold your favourite pyjamas up ready for the evening. Getting into a clean, made bed is a treat for yourself that helps you go to sleep in a better mood, and start your day feeling more refreshed.

Some you time

If there’s one thing we should all make a priority, it’s taking some time just for you. Even if you have to physically schedule it into your day, make sure you set aside a little bit of time that’s all yours.

Have a bath

Self-care often gets distilled down to a fancy bath bomb and a glass of wine when it’s so much more than that. However, we firmly believe a good bath has some sort of magical healing power – it might be the combination of warmth and nice smells, it might just be that you get to lock the door and leave your phone alone for an hour. Whatever it is, a good bath can help boost your mood in no time. Check out our article on how to have a boujie bathtime, here. 

Watch a feel-good film

Sometimes no matter how down you might be feeling, a good comedy can lift your mood and make you laugh even no matter how much you don’t want to. Pick your favourite feel-good film – it can be a comedy, rom-com, even a horror if you love them, and get totally lost in it. Put your phone in another room, get a snack and just enjoy your own private cinema experience.

Get a hobby

Or continue on with one that you love. Hobbies are so important to a healthy work-life balance, as they give you time that’s dedicated purely to yourself and something you love. It can be as simple as trying your hand at cross stitch or signing up for a sport that you used to love doing. Not only do hobbies force us to block out some time to do them, but they’re something that can be as light-hearted or serious as you want. It’s also been proven that improving at something gives you a mood and confidence boost – the perfect pick me up.

Long term

Whilst it’s good to have day-to-day practices that help make each day easier, working in long term goals is key to ongoing better mental health. Here are some of the best ways to ensure continuous improvements.

Learn something

Commit to learning something – online classes, cooking lessons, pottery workshops – whatever it is that you enjoy, make time to learn about it. Whether you’re a seasoned pro in the kitchen but your business skills need some fine-tuning, or you’ve always fancied learning about criminology, learning something makes us feel accomplished. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming – YouTube videos are great to help teach yourself – why not try learning sign language or DIY? You can also sign up for one-off classes in anything from silversmithing to sausage making.

Improve your health

Physical and mental health go hand in hand, so improving your lifestyle habits is a great long-term goal to keep in mind. Try learning how to cook nutritious meals, particularly ones that can be done in under 30minutes for days when you really can’t be bothered – you’ll feel amazing being able to whip up something fresh and tasty at the end of a busy day. Similarly, finding exercise that you LOVE is far more important than finding one that’s going to give you the most dramatic results. Whether it’s dancing or boxing, mountain biking or skiing, weightlifting or yoga – or a combination of them all – find what you love and you’ll never have to force yourself to work out again.

Therapy

We saved the best for last here – we believe everyone should have a great therapist. Even if you think you’re the most well-rounded, easy-going person in the world, having someone impartial to talk to, to discuss fears or stresses with and to help you improve communication is beneficial on so many levels. Therapy doesn’t have to be frequent or expensive, either. Your GP can refer you through the NHS for free counselling and therapy sessions, or if you go private there are plenty of amazing options around the North East. You can see your therapist every week, once a month, or just every few months to help you keep moving forwards and improving.

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