How to Create a Self-Care Plan

How to Create a Self Care Plan

We are all well aware that self-care is important to our health, happiness, and career success. Like most things, we are more likely to practice self-care if we have a well thought out plan. So, let’s get to work and figure out how to create a self-care plan.

Step #1 Find out what you like to do

Write down 5-10 things that you like to do for self-care. If nothing comes to mind, commit to experimenting in order to find out what you like. You might ask your friends and coworkers what they do, search for local events and activities, think about what you’ve enjoyed in the past. Consider activities for your physical, mental, and spiritual health and relationships.

Step #2 Decide when you will do your self-care activities

Different activities take different amounts of time and will be done with varying frequencies. Think about when you will make time for daily, weekly, and monthly activities. For example, you might decide that surfing is a monthly activity because it is time intensive and talking to your best friend is a daily activity because it’s free and only takes ten minutes.

Step #3 Plan ahead

Look at your list and figure out what preparations needs to be done ahead of time. You may need to make plans with friends, register for a class, buy equipment or tickets, look online for resources. Don’t let a lack of planning be a barrier to following your plan.

Step #4 Put it on your calendar

If you’re like me, things don’t happen if they aren’t on my calendar. I’m juggling a lot of balls and I need the reminder and commitment of having self-care activities on my calendar. So, block out the time and schedule Zumba from 7-8am on Mon and Wed and even schedule calling your friend from 5:30-5:45 (or if you work better with less structure, simply put a reminder in your phone or calendar).

Step #5 Assess and adjust

After a couple weeks of following your plan, sit down with your idea list and calendar. How is your plan working? Are you following your plan as written? What obstacles have come up? What’s working well? Make adjustments as needed.

Here’s an example of what I’ve put on my self-care plan.

Exercise at gym Monday and Tuesday 5-6, Wed 9-10
Walk with a friend Fri or Sat 9-10
Church Sunday 10-11
Pedicure one Saturday per month
Call my Mom Sunday afternoon about 5
Date with husband one Saturday night per month
Journal every night right before bed
Stretch between sessions

There is a nice, colorful example of a self-care plan by Ignacio at Social Work Tech. He also has a downloadable form that you can use for yourself or with clients. Definitely check it out.

Another great resource on self-care is the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.

If you found this article helpful, please share with your friends and colleagues.

Sharon Martin has a passion for clinical supervision, mentoring new social workers, blogging, and reading all things social work related. She is a California Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years in the field. Sharon has worked extensively in Bay Area non-profits and successfully runs a private counseling practice in San Jose. Sharon writes regularly for PsychCentral and the Good Men Project. She's also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism.


  1. April 19, 2015    

    Since moving temporarily to the Netherlands from the U.S. last year, I’ve enjoyed expanding my list of things I like to do, and carving time to do them! I’d forgotten how much I like to do crafts, and I meet once or twice a month with a wonderful group of women to work on needlecrafts, including cross stitch and felting. Launching my blog has also been a wonderful experience for me, enabling me to combine my love of technology, traveling, and photography!

    • April 19, 2015    

      That’s fantastic Michele! Such great and varied interests. Hope you are enjoying The Netherlands.

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