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To put it simply, a self-care plan is a list to refer to when you’re feeling stressed or depressed. Self-care involves two main components: 1) What can I do to feel better for today? and 2) Who can I contact?

Here are the steps to make an awesome self-care plan:

1. DECIDE YOUR “PLAN OF ATTACK”

If you’ve committed to writing your self-care plan down on paper, you have to decide what kind of paper first. Are you going to make a simple list to keep in your wallet or purse? A poster to hang up in your room? The choice is yours!

2. START WITH A TITLE

Once you’ve decided on your plan of attack, title your paper. Make it big, make it bold, and make it proudly exclaim “MY SELF-CARE PLAN.”

3. ADD YOUR ACTIVITIES

Start with writing down activities, or the things that’ll make you feel better when you’re depressed.

Here are a couple pointers:

AVOID CLICHES

  • If you look up “Activities To Do When You’re Feeling Depressed” online, then chances are you’ll find typical suggestions, like “take a warm bath” or “take a walk.” If those are things that make you feel good, then go ahead and write them down in your self-care plan. However, if you’re thinking, “Seriously? Taking a warm bath is so not going to cheer me up,” then chances are there’s something else that might, like singing Mariah Carey songs at the top of your lungs or watching funny YouTube videos. Don’t feel pressure to write down those typical suggestions. Make your list personal to you. As long as it’s an activity that’s not hurting you or hurting others, then it’s totally worth writing down.

BE SPECIFIC

  • If you’re a book worm like me, then chances are you might write “Read a Book” on your list, but think about it first: How many moods have you actually experienced? Doesn’t your pensive, angsty, sardonic, or content mood sometimes correlate with your book choice? It’s doubtful that you’re going to want to reach for something horrendously violent and dark like A Clockwork Orange or something frustratingly complicated like Ulysses when you’re depressed and want to feel better. My go-to book right now for when I’m not happy is the “The Tao of Pooh.” It’s simple, it’s philosophical, and it’s uplifting. So, instead of writing down “Read a Book,” I might write down “The Tao of Pooh” on my list. Whatever it is, it’s good to be specific.

 

4. INCLUDE YOUR SUPPORTS/CONTACTS:

Your supports, or contacts, should make up the second part of your self-care plan. These are the people who matter most to you and people who you can contact when you’re feeling depressed. That means listing your best friend, your significant other, your parents, your therapist, your teacher, or your friendly neighbors… Write them all down. One support can certainly be the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or perhaps your local crisis line. Make sure to write down any contact numbers on your self-care plan so you have them handy.

5. MAKE IT PRETTY

 

Pretty things can be happy things, right? Make your self-care plan colorful and fun! At least for a moment, looking at something beautiful can cheer you up immensely. If you don’t feel like you’re artistic enough (and you totally shouldn’t feel like that because everyone can be an artist), you can use your computer and get creative there. If you made a simple list, add a happy doodle. Get crafty, grab your inspirational stickers, and if that means getting out the glitter glue, then make it happen.


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