Why You Need a Self Care Plan

Self care is always a hot topic, especially in the helping professions. We as school counselors know that self care is important, especially when we give so much throughout the day. We need boundaries, we need to care for ourselves, and we need to preserve our own mental space. Sometimes we hear quotes like, “A good teacher/counselor is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.” When I hear this, I cringe because it promotes the idea that we have to give all of ourselves for our students. In fact, we need healthy boundaries and we need to preserve our own well being by engaging in daily, weekly, and monthly self care practices so that we can experience balance and peace. For this reason, I take time every summer to make a self care plan and engage in those daily practices to make sure I am creating a routine that I can stick to once the year starts. Keep reading to find out why and how you can make a self care plan to set yourself up for success too.

If you're a school counselor, you need to make a self care plan! Find tips and strategies for setting yourself up for success in this post.

Why I Make a Self Care Plan

What is Self Care?

Self care isn’t all bubble baths and manicures. While those things are nice if you enjoy them, they aren’t necessarily tasks that help you care for your basic needs and boundaries. Self care should fill your tank, not empty it more. In your self care practice, think about those activities that support your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health.

How I Do My Self Care Plan

I know that I am prone to let self care tasks fall off of my radar if I don’t have a specific plan in place. The act of writing out my self care plan helps me to be accountable to myself (do you also love checking things off of a list? it’s so gratifying to me). First, I identify what I call the “daily non-negotiables.” These are the things that I absolutely must do every day to feel like I’m taking care of myself. This might look like:

  • taking any prescribed medication
  • flossing
  • drinking enough water
  • spending time reading to my kids
  • washing my face before bed
  • being outside for at least 15 minutes
  • putting my phone away 30 minutes before bed

This might look different for you but think about those daily things you absolutely must do to feel like you. Do I have a basic human need to read to my kids? No, but my day feels complete and full when I do so I put it in there. Once you have your non-negotiables, write them down. Build them into your calendar. If your schedule is anything like mine, it fills up quickly and sometimes feels chaotic. Having those daily self care tasks built it reminds me to actually do them.

I also fill in weekly tasks – like emptying my email inbox, cleaning my desk, or filing all necessary paperwork – and long term things that I can look forward to. Those go in the calendar too so I can keep myself accountable and look forward.

If you're a school counselor, you need to make a self care plan! Find tips and strategies for setting yourself up for success in this post.

Check In With Yourself

I build in a weekly and monthly check in with myself. I take some time to reflect on how I’m feeling and if I’m actually doing those self care tasks that I need to do. I’m not perfect at this, so I need to spend time reflecting and being honest with myself about my own self care practice. If I notice that I’m not doing great with self care follow through, I think about how I can help myself do better or things I can do to make sure I’m getting in that vital self care.

What about you?

How do you make sure you’re taking care of yourself? How do you make a self care plan? If you’re looking for a first step to get yourself started with a self care routine, check out my free school counselor self care summer challenge (it’s okay if it’s not summer!) for some ideas of self care activities to build into your routine.

More on summer planning…

If you’re looking for more ways to prepare yourself for your school year during the summer, head over to The New School Counselor Survival Guide to see everything I’m doing during the summer to prepare for a year at a new school and everything I’ll be doing along the way.

School counselor task list for the whole year with tips for preparing in the summer from The New School Counselor Survival Guide

One thought on “Why You Need a Self Care Plan

  1. Hello from the Philippines! I am also a school Counselor, but I recently resigned from my school. I felt I needed to rest for I was doing all the work for five years. Yes, I was the only counselor in our school of 700 students 🙁 It was tiring, and sadly, it consumed me. But counseling is what I want to do, so I’m using this break to piece myself back altogether, so I can get back to my students with joy. Reading this makes me realize that I need to also have a self care plan. Thank you very much for the inspiration. God bless you!

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