When life is stressful and resources are dwindling, it’s all too easy to justify ditching self-care in order to whittle down your to-do list.
But what about your self-care list?
If you don’t have one, I can pretend to be shocked, but I probably won’t pull it off convincingly.
Most of us cheat a little (or a lot) on self-care when we’re stressed.
But, ironically, that’s when you need it most.
No matter how busy your life gets, you need a daily self-care checklist to stay on the right track without sacrificing your health and well-being.
Use our ultimate self-care checklist to create one that fits your life and makes it better.
The Ultimate Self-Care Checklist of 101 Actions
According to a study in 2011, only 6.6% of Americans age 25 and older engage in daily health-related self-care.
Self-care statistics may have improved in recent years, thanks to all the books and blog posts encouraging people to spend more time and money on it.
But most of us are still all too ready to sacrifice self-care at the altar of getting things done.
When you make self-care part of your daily routine, you can still get important things done without sacrificing the attention you need for these responsibilities.
As you practice the items on the lists below, ask yourself the following questions:
The following lists are about reminding you of your legitimate personal needs and the importance of honoring those.
But along with the lists, you’ll need a mindset shift to see the value of consistently meeting those needs, even when they conflict (or seem to conflict) with urgent business.
Personal Care Checklist
These are probably the easiest to set aside when you’re feeling the pressure to get things done, especially when money is tight. But that’s when it’s even more important to honor your personal care needs. And that’s when you most feel the benefit of attending to them.
Enjoy a quiet morning self-care ritual to jumpstart your day.
Create a bathtime (or shower time) ritual.
Moisturize every day.
Groom your hair in a way that makes you feel attractive.
Get a flattering haircut and go in for trims as needed.
Get a massage or facial.
Shave or groom facial hair.
Make time for at-home spa treatments with scents you enjoy.
Pluck or wax and shape your eyebrows.
Create and keep a daily skincare routine.
Make room for cookies (or another favorite treat).
Get a manicure or pedicure (or both).
Enjoy your favorite essential oils.
Make time for mindless entertainment.
Develop a relaxing evening or nighttime ritual.
Self-help is about more than reading self-help books and talking to a therapist, though both of those can be an important part of your self-help plan.
Add any of the following self-care activities to your personal checklist to help you continue learning and growing.
Read books that make you a better person (and that you enjoy).
Write to articulate your thoughts and feelings and to declutter your mind.
Talk to someone — a counselor, mentor, or close friend.
Create a vision board for something you’re passionate about.
Post meaningful quotes where you’ll see them every day.
Share your experiences with others (in speech or writing).
Speak up to make your words and actions fit your values.
Learn a new hobby or skill.
Open your mind to new perspectives to challenge assumptions.
Risk embarrassment by doing something that scares you.
Develop your own self-care plan and routines.
Join a support group to help you deal with a particular personal challenge.
Take “should” out of your personal vocabulary.
Mental Health Self-Care Checklist
Neglecting your mental health in order to get more things done is like neglecting sleep in order to practice running for an upcoming track meet or to study for a major exam. It won’t be long before burnout catches up and sabotages your best efforts.
Talk to yourself — and listen to understand (not just to validate).
Challenge your negative thinking.
Journal to unburden, express, and energize yourself.
Challenge your brain with puzzles, etc.
Take a different route to a familiar destination.
Make small changes to your routine to spark new connections.
Declutter your physical space.
Declutter your electronic devices and your digital space.
Embrace imperfection (let go of perfection).
Buy an adult coloring book and some coloring pencils for some creative therapy.
Listen to a podcast that interests you and is new to you.
Take a stand for something you believe in.
Relax with a cup of something soothing.
Do a regular digital detox.
Make time for a hobby that relaxes and recharges you.
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Physical Health Self-Care Checklist
Speaking of ditching sleep, this list has to do with the care your body needs in order to keep going and maintain a functional degree of health. Cheat on any of these, and the effects are hard not to see — or feel. Treat yourself better, and everything benefits.
Get adequate sleep.
Hydrate throughout the day.
Take vitamins and minerals.
Take probiotics and prioritize gut-friendly foods.
Eat healthy foods at least 90% of the time.
Get regular physical examinations.
Brush your teeth every day.
See a dentist regularly.
Take daily walks.
Take naps to recharge.
Wear shoes that are kind to your feet and spinal column.
Try yoga and find the type that fits you best.
Spiritual Self-Care Checklist
Your mind and body aren’t the only parts of you that need daily self-care. Who you are and how you live has everything to do with your spiritual well-being. Let the following list of spiritual self-care habits help you grow in a better direction.
Make time for daily meditation.
Cultivate a daily mindfulness practice.
Forgive yourself your mistakes, failures and errors in judgment.
Forgive others their mistakes, failures, and offenses against you.
Ask more questions and be more open to answers you don’t expect.
Keep learning and reflect on what you learn.
Express gratitude every day for the good in your life.
Define your core values and beliefs.
Question those beliefs and articulate your reasons for them.
Create a personal mission statement.
Be open to exploring new spiritual practices (yoga, tarot, etc.)
Self-Care Checklist for Relationships
Self-care is as critical for your relationships with others as it is for your relationship with yourself. Use the following to cultivate socially healthy habits that will strengthen both.
Learn and speak each other’s love languages.
Listen to understand (not to reply or invalidate the other).
Be honest with yourself about your feelings and motives.
Give thanks to those who help you.
Ask for help when you need it.
Spend social time with your loved ones (playing games, talking, etc.).
Schedule regular chats and/or date nights with your partner/spouse.
Set aside regular alone time to recharge, think, or enjoy solo activities.
Spend time in nature — alone or with company.
Reach out to those who are hurting.
Heal old wounds in relationships that matter to you.
Avoid toxic people and protect those you love from them.
Take action to improve lives in your family and community.
Self-Care List for Your Personal Space
Your personal space reflects your priorities and your beliefs about yourself. Let it reflect a person who not only makes time for your own self-care but who encourages others to do the same, even without saying a word.
Set reasonable boundaries for your personal space.
Make it clear to others what those boundaries are.
Respect others’ property and personal space.
Be prepared to defend your personal space.
Declutter and clean your space.
Set aside personal time and ask others to respect it.
Give yourself time to process new experiences and emotions.
Keep visible the things that matter most.
Make room for things that make you smile.
Make room for things that challenge you.
Get rid of things that weigh you down.
Financial Health Self-Care Checklist
Self-care is as much about long-term well-being as it is addressing short-term concerns, and financial well-being affects everything. The healthier your financial habits, the easier it is to justify spending time and money on things you need for regular self-care.
Set aside some savings.
Invest in your continuing education.
Avoid debt or manage it responsibly.
Make room in your budget for fun.
Make regular, thoughtful donations to charities of your choosing.
Cook at home to save money and cultivate an essential skill.
Make your own gifts using a skill you have or are willing to learn.
Keep your space organized so you know where everything is.
Purge your home of items you don’t need, use, or love and donate them.
Grocery shop with the week’s menu in mind.
Create a personal style you love and shop responsibly for it.
It’s time to prioritize your self-care.
Now that you’ve looked through our self-care checklist for adults, some of the items on the list probably reminded you of things you’ve put on the back burner too many times.
We all do it. Don’t beat yourself up. That’s not on the self-care list.
You know what self-care actions do you the most good, so prioritize those at first. And as you build them into daily habits, add more in a way that fits your life.
Soon, you’ll create a new normal that you can maintain even when (especially when) your life gets extra stressful. This is not fair-weather stuff or “when I have time” stuff.
This is daily, keep yourself sane, healthy, and looking good stuff. And it matters. Always.
Because you do.