Prioritizing ourselves may seem selfish. We may say we don’t have the time or have other reasons but we, by the nature of our ministries or positions, are caregivers. To give care to others, we need to care for ourselves first. And as God’s children we are given the gift of ourselves. To care for ourselves is a way of showing love for our God. 

Knowing your self-care priorities and having a “Self-Care Plan” can be helpful in caring for yourself. The following items listed are not all-inclusive. Use them to help decide what your plan will be. Have a Self-Care Plan and use it. Make it a priority! Focus on main priorities. You are one of your priorities!

Mental-health basics
Routine
Have a daily routine. Structure your time.

Physical self-care
• Nutrition: Three healthy meals a day; healthy snacks as needed.
• Exercise: Strength training, flexibility, aerobics and balance.
• Sleep: Use good sleep hygiene (habits), for example: sleep in a dark room, rise and go to bed at the same time, refrain from devices one hour before bed and have a relaxing pre-bed routine. Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
Do not excessively use substances, such as caffeine, alcohol or drugs. Treat physical and mental illnesses. Take medication as required. See health-care professionals when needed.

Emotional self-care
Avoid isolation. Maintain positive social connections with others. Use stress reduction techniques, such as guided meditation, breathing, positive affirmations, positive self-talk and mindfulness.

Nourishing Yourself
Mental self-care
• What stimulates your mind? Puzzles, games, learning and discussions.
• What are your hobbies? Hiking, reading, dancing, gardening, crafts and sports.
• When do you work best? Morning or evening?
• When are your energy levels the highest? The lowest?

Spiritual self-care
What spiritual practices work best for you: Meditation, contemplative prayer, Lectio Divina, walking in nature, gratitude practice, spiritual direction, praying the rosary, Mass/prayer services or spirituality books?

Rosemarie Tobin is consultant for People with Disabilities, Deaf Ministry, in the Diocese of Albany. Reference: “Managing Your Depression What You Can Do to Feel Better,” Chapter 1 Mental Health Basics, Susan J. Noonan, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2013.