by James A. Osborne
A self-care plan can help you enhance your health and wellbeing, manage your stress, and maintain professionalism as a worker with young people. Learn to identify activities and practices that support your wellbeing as a professional and help you to sustain positive self-care in the long-term.
This will help you to:
• understand self-care
• develop your self-care plan
• put your self-care plan into action
Aspects of self-care
Self-care is a personal matter. Everyone’s approach will be different. It relates to what you do at work and outside of work to look after your holistic wellbeing so that you can meet your personal and professional commitments (find out more). Below are the different aspects to self-care and example strategies that other people have found useful:
• Workplace or professional
NOTE: The activities and suggestions below are a guide only and it is important to choose activities that are meaningful to yourself and your own goals.
After discovering the different aspects of self-care, complete the self-care plan activity below.
Workplace or professional self-care
This involves activities that help you to work consistently at the professional level expected of you. For example:
• engage in regular supervision or consulting with a more experienced colleague
• set up a peer-support group
• be strict with boundaries between clients/students and staff
• read professional journals
• attend professional development programs.
Activities that help you to stay fit and healthy, and with enough energy to get through your work and personal commitments.
• Develop a regular sleep routine.
• Aim for a healthy diet.
• Take lunch breaks.
• Go for a walk at lunchtime.
• Take your dog for a walk after work.
• Use your sick leave.
• Get some exercise before/after work regularly.
Activities that help you to feel clear-headed and able to intellectually engage with the professional challenges that are found in your work and personal life.
• Keep a reflective journal.
• Seek and engage in external supervision or regularly consult with a more experienced colleague.
• Engage with a non-work hobby.
• Turn off your email and work phone outside of work hours.
• Make time for relaxation.
• Make time to engage with positive friends and family.
Allowing yourself to safely experience your full range of emotions.
• Develop friendships that are supportive.
• Write three good things that you did each day.
• Play a sport and have a coffee together after training.
• Go to the movies or do something else you enjoy.
• Keep meeting with your parents’ group or other social group.
• Talk to you friend about how you are coping with work and life demands.
This involves having a sense of perspective beyond the day-to-day of life.
• Engage in reflective practices like meditation.
• Go on bush walks.
• Go to church/mosque/temple.
• Do yoga.
• Reflect with a close friend for support.
• Download the 1 Giant Mind app and learn mindfulness.
This is about maintaining healthy, supportive relationships, and ensuring you have diversity in your relationships so that you are not only connected to work people.
• Prioritise close relationships in your life e.g. with partners, family and children.
• Attend the special events of your family and friends.
• Arrive to work and leave on time every day.
Create your own self-care plan
For each category above, select at least one strategy or activity that you can undertake. You might notice areas of overlap between these categories. It is important to develop a self-care plan that is holistic and individual to you.
•Download the self-care plan template or create your own.
•Fill your self-care plan with activities that you enjoy and that support your wellbeing. Here are some suggestions.
•Keep this in a place where you can see it every day. Keeping it visible will help you to think about and commit to the strategies in your plan. You can also share it with your supervisor, colleagues friends and family so they can support you in your actions.
•Stick to your plan and practice the activities regularly. Just like an athlete doesn’t become fit by merely ‘thinking’ about fitness, as a worker you can’t expect to perform effectively without putting into practice a holistic plan for your wellbeing.
•Re-assess how you are going at the end of one month and then three months. Plans can take over a month to become habits, so check-in and be realistic about your own self-care plan. After a while, come back and complete the self-care assessment again to find out how you are going with your new habits.
A word of caution:
Once you have created a self-care plan it is important to ask yourself, “what might get in the way?” What can you do to remove these barriers? If you can’t remove them you might want to adjust your strategies. Think honestly about whether any of your strategies are negative and how you can adjust your plan to avoid or minimise their impact.
It can be challenging if your workplace is not supportive of self-care activities, but you can still do things outside of work to help yourself. It is import that your plan resonates for you and that you put it in to action starting now.
Useful professional resources
• Discuss your self-care plan with your supervisor/mentor and close friends and family.
• Review your plan after some time to check if the activities continue to suit your needs.