Self-Care Tips

These 7 Steps Will Help You Create a Self-Care Plan That Sticks

Latham Thomas

Photo: Stocksy / Sophia Hsin; Graphic: W+G Creative
This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals. Get the Program

We've spent three weeks of gently practicing self-care: first with small daily actions to nourish the mind, body, and soul; then by implementing practices to lift ourselves up; and most recently by developing strategies to build inner strength. Now, during this fourth week, we'll focus on ways to create a self-care plan that will help us practice it in our daily life.

Keep reading for practical steps that will help you create a self-care plan that's sustainable for the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

Day 22: Embrace intimacy to start your day

Embracing intimacy and soulful connection in our relationships is an important aspect of self care. Tuning in to pleasure and allowing yourself to experience vulnerability accentuates your glow. But if we want to enhance our relationships for the better, we have to examine ourselves first. That starts with making space for true intimacy as a component of the self-care plan we create.

Explore what turns you on as an exercise to start your day to help you understand what arouses you. In order to get turned on, though, you have to tune out. Shut off your busy mind so that impulses can rush through the body and ignite the pleasure centers. To help you discover your what turns you on, use the following prompts as thought-starters:

  • What conditions need to be met for me to feel relaxed and present in the moment?
  • What sensory experiences turn me on?
  • How can I express love to myself through touch?
  • What turns me on in life?

Day 23: Round up your accountability circle

Your circle may consist of two or three friends with shared passions or challenges who will motivate you, hold you accountable, and whom you will hold accountable in turn. Share your progress with each other, set goals together, and celebrate when you succeed.

Regardless of the specific goals of your accountability circle, know that making commitments to yourself and sharing them with others will help you show up for yourself and your community.

If, for example, you are setting up accountability support for your fitness and movement routine, you may set a time to work out together so you can maximize your results and stay committed. Regardless of the specific goals of your accountability circle, know that making commitments to yourself and sharing them with others will help you show up for yourself and your community.

This process requires honesty, compassion, and open communication from everyone involved. To get the ball rolling, think about who you could connect with on this level in your community. Who can you trust to keep it real as you cheer each other on, and how might it feel to approach them about supporting each other?

Day 24: Affirm yourself with positive self-talk

The messages we feed ourselves wind up becoming our truth, and you deserve to be reminded of your inherent worth. So today, write down an affirmation, and post it in a place where you'll see it regularly. Use lipstick, dry-erase markers, or Post-It notes to place affirmations on the mirrors you use most so that each time you see yourself, you also see the kind words you’ve put there to lift you up.

Mantas and affirmations are not about lying to yourself or faking it till you mean it—they're about shattering old patterns of self-destruction and negative self-talk. Some examples include "I am enough," "I trust myself," and " am confident"—but the right message will speak to you. Practice saying these affirmations to yourself in the mirror at the start of your day, and you'll start to hold and embody that beautiful message within.

For more tips on practicing positive self-talk, click here

Day 25: Take a meditation break

Yes, everyone is busy, and there's always some task that needs to be done. But you can certainly set aside a few of the 1,440 minutes in a day to be present and still with yourself. Try a guided audio meditation if you're a beginner, or if you already have a meditation practice, extend the time you take for yourself. Many of us spend so much time in front of screens, so taking a mini-meditation break can reset your mind and reboot your energy. See how it feels to tune into yourself without interruption as a part of your daily schedule.

Day 26: Put "me time" on your calendar

Throughout the past four weeks, you've invested your time and energy in the pursuit to create a self-care plan. As we near the end of this program, I hope you'll continue to nourish yourself with those moments on a regular basis—not just when you "can find the time for yourself."

One way to ensure it happens is to allocate time for your recharging rituals on your calendar. Sync your Google cal or planner, integrate moon mapping, and notice the difference in how you feel as you make space to reclaim your rest.

Day 27: Relax, and only do one thing at a time

I believe much of the stress we experience is a result of feeling as though time is escaping us. We somehow feel the need to run to the place we are going, racing through life just trying to get everything done in some impossible timeframe. What type of life does that leave us living?

One really important lesson I’ve learned over time is to slow down and do one thing at a time, or uni-task rather than multitask. If you allow yourself to do just one thing—from beginning to finish—limiting your external distractions, you can actually get more done. Focusing on one thing, bringing your attention to your intention, helps you stay the course and minimizes the feeling of perpetual overwhelm.

My friend Arianna Huffington, the founder of Thrive Global and the New York Times best-selling author of The Sleep Revolution, is leading the Sleep program for ReNew Year. She says that multitasking is the downfall of modern society. So, do the easiest things first—the things that feel pleasurable to do—because you will accomplish these tasks with ease and efficiency, and without much effort.

It’s in our nature to be able to juggle so many things, but with the speed at which we live, it feels good to slow it down.

In practice, uni-tasking means that rather than cooking dinner while talking on the phone and watching TV, for example, you leave your phone on the charger and prepare a healthy meal with total concentration, love, and awareness. Or, take a leisurely bath without also listening to podcast. It’s in our nature to be able to juggle so many things, but with the speed at which we live, it feels good to slow it down. When we think about what we are missing out on, it turns out that it’s usually the present moment. Surrender is not giving up; it’s giving over. It’s letting go, releasing. Slow down, listen, and reconfigure your to-do list accordingly so that you punctuate your life with the artful skill of uni-tasking.

Day 28: Pay it forward

As you create your self-care plan, consider it being something bigger than just yourself. Self-care is important for your individual well-being, of course, but it's also what allows us to show up for our families, friends, and communities. When we feel whole, nourished, and glowing, we can bring our best selves to the people, groups, and causes we care about. And when we face negative environments or people who discount our worth, self-care—the very idea of saying "I matter" through the way we treat ourselves—becomes a radical act. Caring for ourselves allows us to care for others and the world at large.

So for your last activity, I ask you to do something kind for another person. Practice confessions of light. Confessions of light are an opportunity to speak about inspiration and acknowledge people who have made a beauty mark on your life. As you prepare to use your own power and influence to the benefit of others, you want to be sure to reach out to those who helped push you along the way.

This practice allows us to practice gratitude and appreciate how blessed we are when faced with the biggest and smallest challenges. It also makes our army of angels feel appreciated and connected to their purpose in service. This is a weekly practice for me, but you can do it daily or however often it feels best. Here's how, in two steps:

1. Make a short list of people to whom you want to confess

Take a moment to call, text, or send a voice memo those people and confess to them what you are grateful for. If you can devote more than a few minutes, consider confessing with a post on Instagram or writing a greeting card.

2. Take out your journal and write

  • Make a list of people who’ve pushed you.
  • Consider how have they been most influential in your life.
  • Brainstorm who in your universe needs a push.
  • Plan how you will you use your influence to push others
  • Note to whom you will confess your appreciation

Paying it forward is an effective strategy for brightening someone else's day. Because when our own cup is full, it feels good to help others fill theirs. As you move ahead with self-care as a priority, let your light shine—and watch how it inspires others to create more luminous lives for themselves.

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