Don’t get me wrong. I love a night of face masks, murder mysteries, and black nail polish. Nights like that feel so good in the moment.
But honestly, afterwards, I feel like my stress just returns right back to where it was beforehand, though I at least have better nails. One of the things I have realized while working with my clients is that self care is really a bespoke act, and that it is not always doing relaxing things!
First things first, let's evaluate what we are doing for self care, and see why we are doing it! Here are some examples:
Okay, solid, all those things sound nice. Let’s take the first one real quick, and ask ourselves why we are reading a romance novel during lunch.
I like to use the prompt “Reading gives me…”
Now let’s take a look and ask… is it working?
What else can we do if we are not able to read a thirsty book at lunch? Let’s say a meeting runs late, or you finished your book and are in the pool of despair between books?
Looking at this question gives us a chance to expand our self care in meaningful ways, and provides some more tools for our self care and mad coping skills toolbox.
Alright, alright, Krissi, this is great, you may say, but wasn’t this about finding better self care?
You’re totally right.
To help us provide more meaningful self care, let’s talk stress and break some ish down. Below are some questions I like to consider. To help, I also put some answers!
Definitely include positive and negative stress! This is a good place to also set some goals that you’re hoping to work on!
I like to use a 1 - 10 scale and list out things that the stress is impacting, but feel free to use whatever works best for you!
What is the path of least resistance; the things that will either be the fastest, take the least amount of spoons, or are the simplest to solve?
Which are the things that are putting the most stress and strain on you?
I like this question because there’s some things we can’t change, like care taking, chronic illness, recovery, or dysphoria, that we gotta work on coping with.
Buttso and his co-conspirator planning their attack on the basil.
Alright. From here, I like to create an action plan!
There are a ton of ways to organize your action plan. You can use Notion, Google Calendar tasks, sticky notes that you can remove once you accomplish them, a hanging calendar of phallic formations at national parks, or a cute bullet journal, just to name a few options!
Using the examples above, here’s how I would organize my action plan!
One of the reasons I like action plans is that you can see that you’re taking actionable steps on all of the stressors that you are experiencing. If, for example, I suddenly get freaked out by the paper that’s due next week, I can look and say, “well, I’m going to work on it tomorrow, so I’ll think about it tomorrow. Right now, it’s time to water my plants.”
Another thing I like is that we’re able to choose when to and when not to do something. There are times where things aren’t going to get done, and it can really help alleviate some of the pressure when you’re choosing what isn’t going to get done, and have a reason.
Lastly, I LOVE a to-do list that includes all the things I’m looking forward to, and not just the chores or tasks that I’m using to validate my self-worth (oh, wait, that’s another article ;) Stay tuned).
Does your action plan need to look like this? Of course not. But I definitely want to encourage you to try a few different ways of organizing it! If this way isn’t working for you, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just not the right strategy at the moment. See what’s getting in the way of it working, and either move that, or try something else where it won’t get in the way!
The last thing I want to leave you with is that self care isn’t ever a done thing. It, like habits, is ish we will always work on. We’re going to mess up sometimes, and sometimes we’re going to be perfect at it. It’s okay, there’s no guilt or shame, just an opportunity to grow :)
If any of this speaks to you, or you’d like to see more pictures of Buttso, feel free to reach out for a free consultation!
Krissi Franzen (she / her / hers) is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern who utilizes an existential, person-centered approach to counseling. With empathy, curiosity, and a little bit of spice, Krissi uses tools from IFS to work with clients to create an affirming and holistic environment where they can pursue their goals. Krissi values viewing ourselves as more than just our symptoms, and helps clients take steps towards expressing their true, authentic selves on their terms. Her experiences within the LGBTQ+ community focus on providing gender-affirming care, feeling comfortable in one’s self, discovering one's sexuality and gender later in life, and addressing internalized shame, guilt, and anxiety. Krissi also supports clients in the kink and poly communities. To learn more about Krissi, visit cadenzacounseling.org.