self care definition, self care checklist

The Ultimate Self Care Checklist

Your self care routine is what makes the difference in good or bad mental health.

You can do all the spa days you want, but if it’s not what relaxes you, it’s not going to help.  You have to set the intention that you are only going to practice a self care routine that is specific to you.

For instance, for me, a night out with the gals is not a restorative activity.  It is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not what my soul needs to heal itself.

What does your soul really need to feel complete? Think about that before you continue reading. It is a question you will never regret asking.

Having trouble answering it? That’s the problem with the internet: there is information everywhere you look.  A lot of times, that is a great thing.  But in this case, there is such a thing as conflicting advice. 

I wanted to clear up a lot of poor self care advice I see and remind you what self care really is.  Keep reading to find out!

In this post, I’m going to share the perfect self care definition, a checklist you are going to swear by, and some other useful information to change the way you think about your mental health.

Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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The perfect self care definition

I’ve searched long and hard for the self care routine that would work for me.  I’ve lived with depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue for as long as I can remember.  On top of that, I am a massive introvert.  Who is a stay at home mom.

So, yeah.  Lots of touching and noise and chatter.  It really wears me down!

Is that something that resonates with you? Are you buried in kiddos, and diapers, and dirty coffee mugs, and looking for a solution?

To begin to feel better, I had to really dig deep and start to explore what it was that I actually needed to feel better.  Yeah, I could sit there and paint my nails and do a face mask, but that was that was my soul was craving?

To figure that out I needed to redefine what self care really meant.

So, what is it exactly?

It’s not really hard to describe what self care is.  It’s actually very simple!  Self care is:

Any activity that is designed to restore peace to a person, and aid them in caring for themselves.  It must be duplicatable, affordable, restorative, and not involving toxic people or situations.

Let’s call this the DARN model.

self care checklist
Download this free PDF here

Using myself as an example again, the perfect self care activity for me is spending time alone watching a show I like.  Why is that perfect for me?

D- It is duplicatable.  Meaning, if it works, I am easily able to do it on a regular basis.

A- It is affordable.  It does not cost a lot of money.

R- It is restorative.  It’s not just enjoyable, but it actually soothes me and benefits my emotional health.

N- It doesn’t involve any toxic people in my life, and does not take place in a toxic home.

What self care activity would fit this model for you?  Let me know in the comments!

The ultimate self care checklist

I made you the ultimate checklist for daily self care that you can print out and use every single day.  None of the activities are expensive, and can be done with things you have lying around the house.  

self care routine
Download your free PDF here

Let’s break this checklist down a little, shall we?

Morning routine

  1. As soon as you wake up, 8 ounces of water.  Hydration is super important and has a lot of benefits.  For one, it helps your muscles and joints move a little easier.  It also cleanses your body, inside and out.  If it helps, set a glass of water next to your bed the night before.
  2. Then, exercise for 20 minutes.  This could be as simple as walking around the block, or you could do an intense cardio and weights routine.  Whatever suits the level you are at.  No matter what you select, moving your body is important.
  3. Next, shower and wash your face.  You don’t have to take a long shower.  Even 5 minutes will do.  As long as you cleanse your body and face with soap.
  4. Brush your teeth.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like myself until I brush my teeth.  This is a really simple thing you can do to feel a little better.
  5. Eat a healthy breakfast. The way you eat can really influence the way you feel mentally and physically.  Skip the sugary donut, and make a fruit smoothie instead!
  6. Set a positive intention for the day. It is important to start out the day declaring whatever mindset you hope to adopt.  Even saying something as simple as, “I’m going to have an awesome day.”  Look in the mirror and say it while smiling and displaying other positive bodily cues.

Evening routine

  1. Prepare a healthy dinner.  Again, you are going to feel a certain way depending on how you eat.  Fatty dinners with large sugary desserts taste good at the time, but how do you feel later?  Run down, with an unsettled digestive system.
  2. Spend some time relaxing. This is where you would pick an activity that speaks to you.  Whether it’s a relaxing walk, or reading a book, or enjoying a hot bath.  Pick a self care activity that fits the DARN model.
  3. Brush your teeth and wash your face.  Like I mentioned earlier, these simple hygiene rituals can sometimes be all it takes to make yourself feel a little better physically.  And if you can feel better physically, you might feel better emotionally.
  4. Write in a journal. I am a big advocate for writing in a journal when you’re struggling.  Just commit to 5 minutes each evening jotting down some things you’re grateful for, or something positive about your day.
  5. Drink more water. Keep that hydration going
  6. Unplug from social media.   I try to get off of Facebook, and Instagram, and everything else at least an hour before bed.  Sometimes, as a blogger, using social media is unavoidable.  But it’s important to set up emotional boundaries, and protect yourself from negative headlines before bed.
  7. Meditate for 5 minutes.  Admittedly, I’m not the best meditator, but millions of people swear by it.  Even if it’s not your jam, it’s at least worth it to close your eyes and attempt to clear your mind for a few minutes.
  8. Think about the following: What is something great that happened today?  It’s always great to focus on the positive.  Let it outweigh the bad by making it your focus at the end of the day.
Download your free PDF here

Build yourself a Self Care Kit

This is a really great technique for people who are completely homebound, or not as mobile.  It helps you to keep a lot of your self care items in one place.  Here are all the steps you need to build your own self care kit.

  1. Grab a box.
  2. I think it would be a great idea if you have pretty wrapping paper lying around to decorate the box!
  3. Put any items you will need to relax inside: warm socks, body lotion, a healthy snack, bottles of water, a good book, earbuds, phone charger, a crossword puzzle book, coloring book and crayons…  The options are really endless.
  4. Keep the box in a place that is easily accessible on days where you might be really struggling.  If you spend a lot of time in bed, see if you can put it on the ground next to your side of the bed.

That’s really it!  Like I said, it is very customizable to your needs and preferences.  Just make sure everything you select fits the DARN model, which we discussed above.

Check out this handy workbook!

I recently created a Self Care Workbook with you in mind!  You are likely reading this because you are trying to get a better understanding of what self care is, and how you can put it into practice.

I packed all of my wisdom into this 12 page workbook.  It contains information about self care, dozens of easy to implement ideas, and 3 daily reusable PDFs for taking better care of yourself.

Download it, and comment below to let me know when you did.  I’m excited for you to try it out.  You can also share this image on Pinterest to help spread the word.

Snag your copy here

Taking care of you is important.

We are in really challenging times so you need to take extra care of ourselves. I totally get that life is chaotic sometimes. But it is no one else’s responsibility to make sure you are taken care of.

Sure, it’s important to ask for help when you’re overwhelmed but the change starts with you. It involves you taking that first step of deciding that you deserve better than the stress and bad sleep and low self esteem.

What is your favorite relaxation technique? How do you normally care for YOU? Let me know in the comments, and make sure you share this post with a burned out friend.

Use the checklist above to hone your self care routine, and sit back and enjoy the benefits!


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Related posts for self care:

Taking control of your health: Only YOU can take care of you

7 types of rest– Which one do you need to help you feel more emotionally well?

What self care REALLY is

How to get fit: 5 tips for exercise when it is the last thing on your mind

62 thoughts on “The Ultimate Self Care Checklist”

    1. I have improved recently, but I’m still a little bad at it. Glad you found the self care checklist helpful! Thanks for reading!

  1. This is a brilliant checklist. I love the tip on going off social media and news media at least an hour before bed. Negative news tends to play longer on our minds if we don’t find ways to shun them out.

    1. Definitely. I’ve felt very affected by the things going on. And while it’s good to stay updated, before bed isn’t the best time for it. Thanks for reading!

  2. This is such a wonderful post and very timely as everybody needs as of the moment. I love your ultimate self care list and will definitely start it as soon as possible.

  3. Self care is very important. I walked away from toxic people a few years ago and never looked back. And life has been so much happier. 🙂

    1. Those are great ones! And thanks, I made it up 🙂 (Too my knowledge…) Thank you for reading. Much appreciated.

    1. Hopefully it helps. As with anything, the first step is admitting you need to change something. Enjoy the self care checklist! Thanks for reading!

  4. Great post. Self care is really important and it’s so easy to brush it aside but we really suffer when we don’t take a moment to look after ourselves.

  5. What a thoughtful resource! Mental health awareness and proper self-care is critical right now and so, this is right on time! Thanks for sharing this very well documented guide!

  6. This is so helpful! One thing I definitely need to do more of is avoiding social media late at night. I tend to be on there until close to bed time and I know that’s not the best way to wind down.

    Thanks for sharing all of these tips!! x

  7. I love this post and sometimes all I need to relax is being alone! We all have heard that you cannot fill from an empty cup! So sometimes I just need to give time to myself away from everyone!

    1. Yes, that’s what my therapist always tells me. Being alone is so beneficial for me too. Thanks for reading 🙂

  8. Usually my workout is my self care, but I did do a face mask the other day with my hubby and it felt great.

    1. Those are both great things. And kind of a fun bonding thing with your husband. Go you! Thanks for reading 🙂

  9. I love this! So many people push the ‘best’ self-care ideas without recognizing that it’s a very personal thing. For me, there is nothing that helps me to relax and recenter more than spending time outdoors. That’s why we camp and hike as often as we do – that’s self-care time for me!

    1. That’s great! At least you know what works. For me, it’s inside in a quiet room, alone. Thanks for reading, as always 🙂

  10. These are such great tips! The hardest thing for me to do is disconnect from social media before bed. I find myself scrolling through apps WHILE I’m in bed and have really noticed negative effects on my sleep. It’s definitely worth keeping that in mind as part of your nightly routine!

  11. Girl! Yes!!! Great post. This really had some solid advise. I like the DARN Model 💚 That was great. Also, great work on your PDFs! Fabulous info.

  12. Thank you for reminding us all to take care of ourselves every now and then 🙂 These are some lovely tips. I am going through some stuff rn and I am wondering what works and what does not.

    1. I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. I hope it gets better soon, and you can get a better understanding of what self care activities will help. Thanks so much for reading!

  13. Excellent post, pet! Self-care is so important now and even after all of this. There are so many ways we can go about self-care now, it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it.

    1. Thank you! And absolutely, there is so much variety in it, everyone can find something that helps them. Thanks for reading, and commenting, pal!

  14. I never realized how important it was to start off the day with a positive intention. It’s something I have been working on.

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