Self Care Tools

What it is

Self care is a word that is thrown around quite a bit nowadays, but it’s not as easy as it sounds, and it does take skill on learning when to use them. Self-care are things that we can do that connects us to ourselves. They are actions that help us to fill our emotional fuel tank from empty to full. And the type of activities that help fill us up are actions based on values as well as actions to fill human basic needs. We must not forget to pay homage to ourselves.

How it works

Finding the activities that are truly caring for ourselves can be difficult, and it’s not just about taking a break. It’s important to know what self care is for us personally. Self care skills or activities are usually needed when we are burned out. Emotional challenges and stress can arise when we are putting all our energy into one area of our lives and we start to neglect other important areas. This neglect of important needs and values can make use feel unbalanced and can make us feel unaligned with our true selves. Self care skills work because they align us again with our true self and get us back on track with who we are. This allows us to feel more fulfilled in our life and gives us energy for those other arenas that can be difficult.

When to use

The time to use self care skills and activities is consistently, this is what causes us to keep up the pace with daily life. But when they should be used as a lifeline while in crisis, is when we are feeling emotionally drained, burned out, overwhelmed or feel like we have nothing else to give. The big goal is to avoid getting to that point, but if we find ourselves there already, try thinking of something small you can do each day that helps you to connect again to yourself. It could be doing a hobby that you haven’t done in awhile, or going to a location in nature where you feel at peace, it can be something as small as treating yourself to lunch, or doing something that helps you connect spiritually. Self care is one of those things that need to be done regularly in order to get out of and avoid burnout. Often the smaller daily and weekly consistent self care skills will go farther in fulfilling your emotional fuel tank, than the big once every 3 months to a year self care activities will. The big self care items are important as well, but as far as purposes of getting out of being emotionally empty and staying fueled up smaller consistent actions are needed. And remember that it is the action and the doing that helps fill us, not the thinking about it.

Specific Tools

  • Identifying fulfilling values and acting on them.

  • Identifying times that you have felt peace, and what actions had caused peace.

  • Reconnecting too or finding a spiritual practice.

  • Doing something healthy that satisfies a need for achievement.

  • Doing something healthy that satisfies a need for relationships.

  • Doing something healthy that satisfies a need for freedom.

  • Doing something healthy that satisfies a need for fun or relaxation.

  • Basic Needs Circle

  • Narrowing values

Identifying and Acting on Values

Identifying and acting on values is an important way to practice self-care. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify what values are. One way of identifying values is by thinking about times where we felt at peace. Peace is a unique feeling because it is different then what most people would refer to as joy or euphoria. It is a calmer feeling that might touch a deeper part of us. When we are having feelings of peace it tells us that we are feeling connected to a certain value. Examples of this might be when we are caring towards a loved one, being honest in a difficult situation, adventuring and braving a new experience or life change that may be scary, or forgiving someone else or ourselves for a past wrong.

For this activity think of a moment (whether it be recently or a time in your past) where you had experienced peace. Imagine yourself back in that situation.

  • What were some of the events that were happening during that experience, as well as events that happened right before it?

  • What were some of the action steps that you had made before that led you to that moment in time when you had felt peace?

  • Can you identify any values that you were either acting on or connecting to that helped you get to that moment of peace?

After doing this write down some of the values that you identified. Think of ways in which you can act on them again in the near future. The important thing to note is that the peace comes after we act on the value.

This is an activity based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Basic Needs Circle

This activity is a way to identify ways in which you are trying to meet your basic needs of Love and Belonging, Power and Achievement, Freedom, and Fun and Relaxation.

This is an activity which is based on Reality Therapy.

  • Step 1: Draw a circle with a cross going through the middle in order to make 4 different sections. Label each section with one of the different needs, (like the image to the left).

  • Step 2: Write inside the circle different things which you are currently doing to fulfill that need.

  • Step 3: Write outside of the circle different things which you are currently not doing, but could start doing to help fulfill that need. (Remember one activity can fulfill multiple needs), example: going on a hike can fulfill a need for fun, freedom, and accomplishment.

  • Step 4: Plan a time within the next week where you are able to do one of the activities on the outside of the circle.

  • Step 5: Do the activity

  • Step 6: After doing the activity Reflect on ways in which it was helpful for you. Determine what needs are important to you that you can continue doing. Continue planning and doing the activities on the circle.

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