Current events have given us an opportunity, and sometimes even a necessity, to rethink our well-being approaches. But developing a self-care plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you use a familiar method like the American Nurses Association’s nursing process.

How to Practice

Perform a self-assessment: The first step to building a valuable care plan is assessment. Self-assessment should include more than physical considerations but also spiritual, emotional, financial, psychological, and social. Think about whether you have any shortfalls in those areas of your life. What are your priorities and are you spending time on things that are important to you? What brings joy to your life? Are you currently practicing self-care? Are your current strategies helpful?

Diagnose your areas for improvement: Determine the areas you would like to focus on for growth. Try to identify the underlying issue knowing that other problems can manifest, hoping to identify the root of the issue versus the symptom. Write down the areas that you have identified for improvement.

Develop interventions: Create a plan for each of your areas for improvement. Set measurable and attainable short- and long-term goals for yourself. Short-term goals allow you to celebrate small victories to keep you motivated. Offer yourself a variety of different approaches and activities that take differing amounts of effort and time, such as:

  • Physical: annual physicals, cancer screenings, healthy eating, sleep, exercise, or stretching
  • Emotional: imagery or relaxation techniques, positive internal thoughts and dialogue, mindfulness, socialization, or books and activities that promote joy
  • Spiritual: nature, random acts of kindness, prayer, religious community, meditation or yoga, or positive mantras
  • Social: journaling, boundaries between work and home life, time with loved ones, time for relaxation, or community groups
  • Financial: living fiscally responsibly, preparing for emergencies, budgeting, or borrowing or buying second hand instead of new
  • Psychological: coloring or making something, play and playfulness, or activities that bring you joy and stimulate your mind

Implement your plan: Start small and remember to always be kind to yourself. Schedule self-care activities on your calendar. Involve friends to keep yourself accountable. Just like our patients need a support system through their cancer journey, we need support on our self-care journey.

Evaluate the results: Before, during, and after an activity, think about how it makes you feel. Is it helping you reach your goal? Would it be better if you did the activity at a different time? Maybe a variation of the activity would work better?

Self-care is personal. It takes time and practice. You will find that activities that work well for others might not work well for you. You will even sometimes fail to follow through. Do not let that discourage you. Be kind to yourself. You are worth it!