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Develop your own Individualized Self-Care Plan for the woman you are and who you’re becoming by following these three essential steps.

Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of deal. Just as each woman is unique, self-care plans should be individualized as well. When pursuing a plan for self-care, it’s necessary to analyze your current lifestyle, decide what you’re most interested in and passionate about, answer a few important questions, and make some important decisions.

Below, you’ll find a four-step process for identifying which area or areas of self-care are needed, some suggestions on self-care techniques that you can customize to help get you started, and how to implement your individualized plan and stick with it.

Step 1 – Know Your “Why”

The first step in developing your individualized self-care plan is to know why you want to do this in the first place. What do you want to repair, restore, or rejuvenate?

Self-care isn’t a self-indulgent activity; it’s about self-preservation and restoration and honoring as many aspects of who you authentically ARE as possible.

If you’re a woman who owns a personal vehicle, periodically, you must schedule and invest in routine maintenance, such as oil changes and rotating tires, for safety and to ensure it continues to run properly.

Your human body is no different – you need routine (and not-so-routine) maintenance periodically as well.

Consider the amount of work we put our bodies through on a daily basis. Self-care is you taking the initiative to take care of you, inside and out, and deliberately, intentionally taking an adequate amount of time to do so.

If you aren’t clear on your why, your self-care routine won’t remain important in the long run. Get up close and personal with yourself and decide your main reason for implementing a self-care regimen.

Step 2 – Choose Self-Care Strategies that Fit

There are five basic areas where self-care applies: Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Physical and Social. In step 2, you’ll decide which area(s) of your life need an overhaul or rejuvenation and then choose a self-care technique to employ.

You are a multi-passionate, multi-faceted woman – all five of the areas will need attention at different points in your life. Perform a self-analysis to determine which of the areas listed below needs your attention and resources first, and then move forward.

Perhaps you choose a low-cost, low-time-requirement step to get started – as with a home renovation, starting small can encourage and motivate you to keep going. If you have the time and resources to take on a major change, do so, but don’t feel that it’s required for your efforts to be of any benefit.

Below, you’ll find a few ideas in each category to help you get an idea.

  • Psychological
    • Music
    • Aromatherapy; candles, essential oils, etc.
    • Counseling
  • Emotional
    • Talk to a trusted friend, coach, or counselor
    • Journaling
    • Read/listen to self-help books or programs
  • Spiritual
    • Meditation
    • Positive affirmations
    • Religious / Spiritual services or activities
    • Spend time in nature
  • Physical
    • Group fitness classes
    • Yoga, Pilates, stretching
    • Walk, run, jog
    • Hike
    • Swim
  • Social
    • Book club – online or in-person
    • Support group – online or in-person
    • A meal with friends
    • Volunteer at a school or non-profit

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, there are at least a few suggestions in each aspect where self-care might be needed. Chances are there is more than one area of your multi-passionate life that could use some self-care assistance; don’t limit yourself.

3 – Schedule It!

Here’s the tricky part: many of us are quick to come up with the “I don’t have time” excuse when attempting to implement a self-care plan. The fact of the matter is if you don’t make time for yourself, eventually your time for others will diminish because you’ll be forced to take time by an urgent or emergency situation when it’s really NOT convenient.

There will simply be less and less of yourself to offer if you aren’t refilling your self-care tank on a regular basis. Many self-care techniques take only a few minutes, while others might involve several hours.

It’s entirely up to you and your schedule, but don’t make the grave mistake of denying yourself altogether.

Meditation can take as few as 5 or 10 minutes once you get the hang of it. A 10-minute walk? Surely there are TEN minutes in a day you can spare. Let’s put it into perspective and really examine how often and how easily we cheat ourselves out of self-care with weak excuses.

How often do you pick up your smartphone to check social media or email? If you don’t know how much time you spend on your phone with mindless activities, there are apps to track it. You might be shocked at the results.

How much time do you spend in front of the TV? On a smoke break? Driving? You can incorporate self-care techniques in ALL of these time slots you’ve made available for other activities.

Step 4: Follow Up and Reassess

And the final step? After you’ve started your self-care plan, implement it for 7 days straight and then re-evaluate. Many recommend a month, but that’s a lot of days to carry on with something that might not be working or might be forgotten altogether.

What are you looking for in your follow-up? Pay special attention – and break out your journal – to document how you feel after you engage in a self-care activity. Does the scheduling need to be adjusted? Or does the activity itself need to be switched out for something else?

If you aren’t really getting the vibe you expected from weekly pedicures, switch it out for a 30-minute audiobook session at your favorite park. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try it.

Give yourself the flexibility and permission to try several options – what doesn’t light your spark after one session may land differently after 3 – 5 sessions, or you may decide it’s not worth continuing with that particular option and switch to something else.

The key here is to keep an open mind and be aware of whether your self-care plan is providing the benefits you expect and deserve.

It’s okay – even preferable for some women – to switch things up. If you aren’t a creature of habit and don’t want the exact same routine every time, you don’t have to do that. On the other hand, if settling into a consistent routine is what soothes and restores you, do that.

Do what works for you and your lifestyle!

Self-care isn’t meant to be difficult. It’s supposed to be satisfying and a means to refuel and recharge. The important thing is that it benefits you, that you are taking care of you inside and out!

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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