Mental Health · Physical Health
Self-care mastery: 7 day challenge (DIY)
For most of us, we have too much on our plate right now to master self-care.
We’re feeling overwhelmed, overstressed, and overburdened. On top of all of our normal stressors, we’ve got new COVID policies coming in, stress about our own health and loved ones, and many of us are adapting to working from home (or back to the office) and all the challenges that brings. As if things couldn’t get worse, now we’re expected to take responsibility for our own “self-care”. Where exactly is that time supposed to come from? If you’re feeling that way too, you’re not alone. In this article, we’re going to show you how to master your self-care anyway, without adding to the overwhelm, in 5 minutes or less per day.
What’s expected of you?
Firstly, a 2 minute read.
Secondly, 5 minutes per day for 7 days.
One step per day.
What are you going to get?
By day 7 (at the latest) you’ll have an improved self-care practice that consistently decreases stress, and improves productivity.
For those of you thinking “I don’t even have 5 minutes” hear me out. If you’re overwhelmed, approaching burnout, or already there… you’re not working at maximum efficiency. Not even close.
Research has shown on many occasions that too much stress hurts problem solving, creative thinking, and energy levels. If you can feel even 5% better with these 5 minutes, it will pay for itself in clear thinking, happiness, and even productivity.
By the end of these 7 days, you will not only have an actionable plan in place, you will be automatically (without even thinking about it!) more likely to engage in self-care to boost your energy and mood.
1st day of self-care (today)
Take 5 minutes and write down 5 things you enjoy doing or you KNOW make you feel good.
More often than not, people over-complicate things, especially the “A”-type. I fall into this category. Rather then looking at the research to find “the best” self-care, just choose something that you know makes you feel good. Research on stress recovery has shown that positive mood (feeling good) is strongly correlated (and may even cause) decreased stress.
That’s it for Day 1, just make sure you actually write them down.
2nd day of self-care
Pick one from your list that you think would be relatively easy to do daily.
No need to do any more than this. Simply be re-reading the list of things that make you feel good, you’re priming your brain and reminding it that these things make you feel good, increasing the likelihood of you doing it automatically, and also getting you ready for Day 3.
3rd day of self-care
Take the activity you chose and brainstorm a way to make it take less than 5 minutes. Bonus points if it’s 2 minutes or less and really easy. A growing body of research shows that taking intentional action is one of the most important aspects of resilience. (Hint: the last 3 days have all been intentional activities to reduce your stress!)
4th day of self-care
Plug it into your schedule (starting on Day 6)
This is where attention to detail will be important. Get really specific about WHEN you will do this self-care activity. Best case would be to plan it immediately after something else that you already do regularly. E.g. immediately after closing my work computer at the end of the day I will doodle for 2 minutes.
5th day of self-care
Plan how you’ll measure it.
One of the most important aspects of intentional action is recognizing that you’re doing it. Without a specific plan as to “what counts” hyper self-criticism can easily take over and convince you that you didn’t make any progress. This will take less than 5 minutes, just write down some simple criteria for what counts and then determine how you will measure it. I like to use pen/pencil and paper with checkmarks. You may prefer a spreadsheet, gold stars, whatever works for you!
6th day of self-care
Do the self-care activity!
Try out the new plan you’ve built and make sure to measure it, and acknowledge your success (even if your internal critic is telling you it’s too small to celebrate). As a result, you’ll be on the way to building a new, lasting self-care habit that continually decreases your stress and helps you stay more resilient!
7th day of self-care
Keep it up. Remember to keep it small (ideally 2 minutes or less). Stepping outside to get a breath of fresh air, for instance. If you decide that somedays you’re having fun and want to do more, great! Go for it! That breath of fresh air could turn into a 5, 10, 15 minute or more walk! Just remember the minimum amount required to count it.
Self-care doesn’t need to be complicated. What’s more important than how many self-care actions we take is that we’re deliberate about them, and recognize our successes. Additionally, that we chose self-care activities that we like! Too many of us try and make this difficult on ourselves- it doesn’t have to be.
Self-care is for YOU. It’s not something you have to do, something that you enjoy doing that fills your cup. If you’re not enjoying your self-care, or if it’s stressing you out, take another look at it and see if you can make it easier/more fun!
If you’d like to learn more about self-care, and other strategies to improve mental health and manage stress, check out our corporate workshops HERE. We highly suggest checking the self care workshops.
About the author
Josh Froc specializes in behaviour change. He runs his own coaching business where he helps leaders and small business owners manage their own self-care to optimize productivity and feeling good. He is also a consultant and facilitator at Work to Wellness where he applies his coaching background in behaviour change to help workshop participants make lasting behaviour changes so they too can feel better and optimize their performance.