6 Steps to Re-evaluating Your Self-Care Routine
RAFT Team, February 27, 2023
Every advocate needs a self-care routine that is robust enough to carry you through the challenges you face. During the pandemic, depression rates have tripled. And while self-care has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety, depression and stress, and increase happiness, flexibility and quality of relationship, most still find it difficult to fit self-care into the day. In this article, we’ll cover why self-care is important, how to evaluate your self-care needs, how to make time for it, and how to develop your own self-care routine checklist.
1. Identify signs of compassion fatigue
Compassion fatigue is a type of secondary traumatic stress that can occur when someone is exposed to the suffering of others for an extended period. It can manifest in physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms such as exhaustion, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness.
2. Understand why self-care is important
Self-care is important for advocates because it helps you manage the effects of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. Taking time to rest and recharge can help prevent burnout and ensure that you can continue providing support to those in need.
3. Know when it’s time to re-evaluate your self-care routine
It’s important to re-evaluate your self-care routine regularly to ensure it’s still meeting your needs. If you start feeling more exhausted than usual or have difficulty managing stress levels, it may be time to look more closely at your self-care routine and make adjustments as needed.
4. Make time for self-care
Making time for self-care can be challenging when you work with individuals who have experienced trauma. However, self-care time is essential to helping you maintain resilience to compassion fatigue and preventing burnout. Setting aside time each day to engage in self-care activities can help ensure that you’re able to continue providing quality support to those you serve as an advocate without sacrificing your own wellbeing.
But if you’re like most advocates, you’re already too busy. Where could you possibly squeeze in time for self-care? Take a few moments right now to evaluate your average day. Is there a 5-10 minute spot you can adjust your activities to allow for self-care?
- Consider turning the time you’re already spending into intentional self-care, like while you’re driving home from work or to pick up kids from a school activity.
- How much time do you spend on social media daily? Could you cut back that time by 5 minutes?
- Maybe you could incorporate self-care after work by pausing for 5 minutes to meditate in your car before you head home.
Be creative in taking back some time during your day to spend on just you. Once you build a habit, it will be easier to carve out a little more space when you need it.
5. Explore a reasonable self-care routine
Developing a reasonable self-care routine can help prevent burnout and maintain resilience to compassion fatigue. This routine should be tailored to your individual needs and preferences but should include activities like:
- setting boundaries with work hours
- taking regular breaks throughout the day
- healthy eating habits
- journaling or creative expression
- engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation such as yoga or meditation
- connecting with supportive friends or family members
- getting enough restful sleep each night
6. Develop a self-care routine checklist
A list of ideas is a great place to start, but in order to apply these ideas, it’s helpful to make a list of things you’d like to pursue right now. Personalize some options from the list above or jot down some of your own ideas. This self-care routine checklist doesn’t have to be long. In fact, one item on your self-care checklist is just fine as you get started.
Creating a self-care checklist can help you stay on track with your routine and ensure that you are taking care of yourself in all areas of life: including physical health, mental health, emotional wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, relationships, and career/work life balance.
Use the checklist feature on your phone, set reminders on your calendar, or place post notes around your house and office space to remind you of your specific self-care goals.
Instead of pressuring yourself to add one more thing to your daily routine, consider a “yes, and” approach. By understanding and applying the 6 points in this article, you’ll give yourself the gift of self-care. By creating a powerful self-care routine checklist, your work colleagues, clients, and loved ones will benefit as well.