Pedicures, face masks, and massages may come to mind when you first envision a self-care checklist. While physical pampering certainly has a place in any self-care practice, there are much deeper, basic human needs requiring fulfillment in order to become our truly, best selves.
What Is Self-Care?
The World Health Organization defines self-care as, “…the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.” Fairly straightforward, and when you think about it, caring for one’s self is about as basic a need as it gets. Think of the oxygen masks on airplanes…you don’t have much to offer anyone else until you’ve taken care of yourself first.
What Is a Self-Care Checklist?
There are many different ways to categorize self-care. From physical, emotional, and mental, to social, spiritual, and professional, the options are endless and the bottom-line is pretty much the same. There really is no wrong way to take care of oneself. Any act of self-care is in the right direction, checklist or not included. But if you’re looking for some direction or a starting point, we can look to the mental health professionals.
Abraham Maslow was a 20th century psychologist mostly famous for creating a five level pyramid of human needs, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He separated our basic needs into two categories: D-level needs, or deficiency-based needs, and B-level needs, or being/growth-based needs. He broke out these two categories into five levels and stated that in order to satisfy each level and reach the top of the pyramid, we must fulfill the deficient level below first.
Maslow’s pyramid of needs provides a useful approach to understanding self-care. However, it’s important to note that this theory is simply that. A theory. And it was largely devised from Maslow’s own personal observations, over 70 years ago and remains contested in academic circles.
According to Maslow’s pyramid of needs, our basic human needs, ranging from keeping a roof over our heads to finding purpose in life, must all be met, fulfilled, and potentially built upon in order for us to thrive.
Following is a self-care checklist broken out by Maslow’s pyramid of needs:
30 Tips For Your Self-Care Checklist
Physiological Self-Care Needs
Physical health needs are imperative for our survival:
- Exercise. Be active and move. Whether it’s a CrossFit class, neighborhood walk, lap in the pool, or just opting to take the stairs.
- Sleep. Try to get those elusive 7-9 hours. Create a bedtime routine that helps you doze off. Shut off the screens and make it a ritual.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water gives us life! Use a tracking app or just keep a tally on a post-it note to ensure you are getting enough H20.
- Balanced diet. Nourishing your body nourishes yourself. Consuming high-quality proteins, fruits and vegetables can do wonders for your body and physical health.
- Get outside. Spend some time in nature and soak up natural sunlight, Vitamin D, and fresh air. Get grounded and feel the earth and grass between your toes.
Safety Self-Care Needs
Physical and emotional safety is a basic need we must feel sufficient in:
- There is safety in routine. Keep a daily wake/sleep schedule. Establish a morning routine. Devote some time on Sunday for meal prepping. Make a routine and stick to it.
- See your doctor for annual checkups. Stay ontop of scheduling your healthcare checkups.
- Find a trusted accountant and financial advisor. Financial security is the ultimate security.
- Find a trusted mental health professional or therapist. Someone to talk to with no judgment offers the utmost security.
Love and Belonging Self-Care Needs
Connection and security is a primal need of every living being:
- Keep a social calendar and stick to it. Make time for your friends.
- Limit screen time. Social media offers a false sense of connection.
- Volunteer for causes you believe in. Help others and help yourself.
- Schedule phone calls with long-distance loved ones.
- Caring for a pet or a plant can do wonders for love and belonging.
- Carve out quality time with your partner and loved ones.
Esteem Self-Care Needs
Esteem for one’s self and from others is a necessity for emotional wellbeing:
- Be proud of your work. Finding work you are invested in and can build esteem from is important.
- Feel accomplished and competent. Keep a daily to-do list and cross off completed tasks.
- Never stop learning. Knowledge is growth and power.
- Find and maintain hobbies that keep you growing and engaged.
- Goal setting, and achieving is important. Going after what you want and reaching those goals is invaluable to your self-esteem.
- Celebrate the wins. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. We often focus on the losses and forget to praise our wins.
Self-Actualization Self-Care Needs
Lastly, knowing one’s full-potential and reaching it is the ultimate test of self-care:
- Passion. Find something you are passionate about and pursue it. Whether your source of income or just a side hobby, passion is invigorating.
- Positive self talk. How you take to yourself is all that matters. Keep it positive and loving.
- Sense of purpose and agency. We need purpose in life. Find what keeps you going and stick to it.
- Eliminate bad habits. Habits are tricky—if they’re positive, like brushing your teeth, you want to keep them. If they’re not-so-positive, like 8 cups of coffee a day, you want to amend them. Focus on the beneficial ones and try to tame those that are less than helpful.
- Engage in insight and self-reflection. What are we if not in touch with out inner worlds? Whether a faith-based practice or simple self-journaling, digging into your self is the ultimate path to self-care.
- Mediation. On that same note, setting aside just ten minutes to meditate on your own breath or with an app is greatly beneficial.
- Creative outlet. Creativity is a boost to your mental health. Whether you knit a sellable sweater or practice sketching stick figures, there is no wrong or right way to engage in creativity.
- Push your comfort zone. Comfort zones are not meant to hang out in. Growth is scary but ultimately hugely beneficial. The best conduit for growing? Scare yourself.
- Gratitude journal. Being grateful is the ultimate form of self-love. Try to physically or mentally “jot” down or make note of things you are grateful for everyday.
A self-care checklist starts with the basics. While often easier said than done, taking small steps toward building healthy habits can make a world of difference. Having a myPrimalCoach by your side as you build your self-care routine, will help solidify your new habits into long-term sustainable lifestyle change. Get started with a coach now to create your unique self-care checklist.