How to Start a Self-Care Plan

Self Care Plan

Getting healthy can be tricky. Then, once you feel that you have reached a desired health goal, sticking to that self care plan and sustaining healthy… boy that can often pose an even greater challenge!

I can speak to this from personal experience.

In 2010, I began a journey to enjoy holistic health and happiness. At the time, I was burned out from my nursing role, taking little to no care of myself, and feeling unhappy and unhealthy. I made a conscious choice to change my lifestyle and get things back in shape.

Well, fast forward almost a decade later and I find myself not at my “best”. That’s right! It has been my experience that every single person, no matter if they live in the holistic health world or not, can falter and need support from time-to-time.

Why do I tell you these things? To show you that making and sticking to a self care plan can be challenging. And, you do not have to nor should you do it alone.

Ways to Support Your Healthy Choices

I was a pretty active and healthy kid growing up. I played sports my entire life and took dance lessons for 13 years. I loved being outside, competing in games, and running around the yard.

So how come in 2010 I found myself in a place of utter despair? Well, I had lost my focus. It had shifted from me and the things that made me feel well and happy to work, work, and more work.

I started my nursing career in 2005. I wanted to be a nurse who others could count on. I said “yes” to projects and joined committees. I was active in precepting newer nurses and volunteered to work late or come in early for many of my shifts.

While I was doing my best to be the very good nurse that I thought I could be, I was forgetting about an important person in this whole equation- me!

I no longer exercised and my sleep was erratic. I ate terribly unhealthy and had no emotional coping skills. It was a matter of time before I burned and crashed! So, I needed a plan. But guess what? It didn’t come out of nowhere or happen over night.

In the winter of 2010, I took a new job at a local wellness center and gym. It was neat to be back in the environment of health and wellness. And of course, there were machines, classes, and people all around that wanted to support my self care plan.

So instead of keeping to myself and staying stuck on the path to destruction, I decided it was time to make a chance. So, I reached out for help and hired a personal trainer.

Sticking to the Plan

So often we do not want to ask for help. We worry it will be expensive or we won’t be able to keep the routine. Or, maybe we will realize that the personalities of ourselves and the person we hired doesn’t match.

Whatever the case may be, we come up with excuses for not asking for and receiving help. And, we think, well if I just go to a few classes or run a few times a week… sure, I can get healthy that way.

WRONG! It does not work this way.

Just the other day, I was speaking with my husband and he was telling me how he wanted to start exercising again. He was vague in when he would start and the time of day that he would actually work out. And don’t you know it, it’s been two weeks since we had that conversation and no action has begun…

Why do I tell you this?

To share that you need to actually make a self care plan. Whether that means hiring help, getting a calendar, writing things down, working with an accountability buddy, finding a partner, signing up for a class, or ordering some new supplies- you need an actual concrete plan to actually begin what you are thinking and maybe talking some about.

Other Helpful Tips

So, we have covered the fact that you need an actual plan and likely some specific supports in place to carry that plan out. What else is needed?

I would suggest that you consider the following:

  • What is it that you actually enjoy? Starting up a self care plan just to do it will not be enough. You need to find out the activity that you will LIKE to do. Otherwise, there will be every excuse known to man on why you need to overlook it another day.
  • What do you realistically have time for? In speaking with my hubby about his ideas, he was talking about running three times a week. This man works all day outside as a heating and air conditioning tech. His job is labor intensive and he comes home exhausted. And right now, he is not running at all. So, when he said THREE times a day, what did I immediately think? You got it- no way! That’s setting yourself up for failure. You need to be realistic in how much time you can commit to your newly formed self care plan.
  • When will you reevaluate? That’s right- you don’t need to be doing this plan forever. In fact, I would suggest giving yourself a limited time frame. For example, sticking with the running theme, you might say that you are going to run 3 miles twice a week for two months. At the end of two months, you pause to evaluate. Are you making progress? Has it gotten easier and more fun for you to run each time? Could you increase the distance or amount of time each week? Do you hate it and have you only run twice in the full two months time? By assessing how you have done you can make small changes that will help you successfully keep a self care plan.

Make Your Shift

Since so many nurses approach me online asking questions about how to stay healthy as a busy nurse, I figured… why not help out with some suggestions for a self care plan!

I am super excited to bring you another five-part mini podcast Make the Shift series! This time we’re talking all things about healthy habits and self-care goals.

In this first of five podcasts, we will cover:

  • Why we need more focus on self-care as nurses;
  • How to start a self care plan;
  • Which areas of health and wellness we should reflect upon;
  • The various items on the self care “platter”;
  • And how to take the first steps in our own self care journey!

Enter Tierra Owen: A Healthy Holistic Nurse

I’d like to introduce you to one of the best advocates for self care that I know, Tierra Owen. In fact, this isn’t the first time you have met Tierra as she was a guest on episode 130 of the Your Next Shift podcast.

Tierra Owen, RN, BS has been a registered nurse for more than 12 years, specializing in labor & delivery and postpartum. She recently launched Nursing Ourselves, an online platform and hub to increase nurse self-care. Visit Tierra and check out her course, Nursing Ourselves, by clicking here.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Tierra about the start of a self care plan and what support you will receive within Tierra’s online course. Check out the video interview below:

Get Started with Your Self Care Plan Today!

What’s awesome about Tierra is her love of helping other people, specifically nurses. Tierra not only coaches nurses in a self care plan- she supports us all by teaching us how to nurse ourselves to whole person health.

If you’ve been thinking about embarking on your own self care journey– here’s your chance to make it happen! Take the first step and explore Nursing Ourselves. Tell her I sent you and enjoy health and happiness in your nursing career.

p1050390About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week program, The Art of Nursing, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”

 

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