How to Create a Self-Care Checklist that is Tailored to YOU!

Self-care is a must.  It’s not indulgent; it’s necessary.  As we go about our busy days and weeks, we often forget to take care of ourselves and neglect the things that make us feel good and balanced.

But if you don’t take time for yourself, how can you be your best self?  You need to create a self-care checklist that works for you so that every day becomes an opportunity to practice self-care, check off your goals, and find ways to recharge.

woman on couch holding tea and writing in journal.

In this post, I will share why I think a self-care checklist is a fantastic tool and help you create one that makes sense for YOU!

What is Self-Care?

Before we get to the actual checklist, let’s clarify a few things.  Self-care is a topic on many people’s radars these days, and many folks want to get on the bandwagon.  I’m all for that……….IF we are being honest about what self-care is and is not.

I have to be candid here; I am beyond sick of self-care being defined as “100 ways to indulge yourself or justify some less than stellar behavior.”  That’s not really what self-care is.

Self-care is about *shock* ACTUALLY taking care of yourself in a meaningful way.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely NOT anti-bubble bath or massage.  However, let’s be clear that while physical self-care IS essential (more on that in a minute), it is only ONE component of TRUE self-care.

Orange background with the words Self-care isn't selfish

Three Categories for Well Rounded Self-Care:

Some people say four; others say five when it comes to categories.  I, personally, have settled on three.  There is no right or wrong.  If you stick with three or expand to six, that’s totally fine.  It’s about making this personal to you!!

I break them down like this: Body, Mind, and Spirit.


Body breaks down into all the physical components of self-care.  But, again, I caution you against simply looking at spa days.  If you love spa days as much as I do, then, by all means, add them to your list.

However, be sure to look at all the OTHER elements of physical self-care.   Don’t neglect sleep, healthy food, exercise (which is not always about how much time you can spend at a gym), and managing your health overall.

I also think you have to look at physical intimacy here too.  I don’t just mean sexual intimacy (though that certainly has a place).  I also mean hugging your kids, mom, spouse, or best friend.  

 Those moments when you connect with another human being are moments of self-care as well.


Your mind is a tricky one to tackle.  Think of this as the stuff that helps you grow and develop as a person (and seriously, we can ALL use some self-reflection).  I like to think of this as intellectual growth.

If you love learning about world religions, take a class.  If you want to dive deep into understanding mindfulness and meditation, read up on it and try a free guided meditation.  If you want to start blogging as a way to share your ideas, DO IT!

But don’t be limited by my categories here.  Do what works for YOU!

I think the key is finding the balance between providing yourself mental stimulation without going overboard and neglecting self-care in other areas.


Some people refer to this as “Soul.”  I like both terms and tend to use them somewhat interchangeably.  I also fold “heart” and “emotion” into this category.  I know others separate them out.

Again, there is no right or wrong here, so use the terms that speak to you.  The important thing is that you consider this category to be as necessary as the others.

So how do you practice self-care in the realm of the spirit?  For me, the spirit is about improving your inner world so you can better face the outer world.  I like to think of meditation, prayer, and personal time as forms of spiritual self-care. 

Your list will be highly personalized and will likely look very different than someone else’s list.  That is perfect; it should!  No two people are alike, so why would they practice self-care precisely the same way?

I bet you can also see how acts of self-care would fall into more than one category.  That’s the beauty of self-care.  The more you begin to take action on caring for yourself, it will naturally start to spill over into other areas.  Hopefully, it will also spill over into self-love, which is different, but also needed. 

Woman of color sitting at kitchen table writing in a journal

What Exactly is a Self-Care Checklist and Why Should You Create One?

A self-care checklist is a list of ideas that you can refer to and implement regularly to take care of yourself.  It’s a way for you to make sure that you are actually putting the principles of self-care into action. There are even studies now being conducted that show the value and usefulness of self-care checklists.

I know this may sound odd, but some people don’t know where to start when it comes to self-care.  To be honest, some years ago, I didn’t either.  I have shared before that I spent the first 20 years of my adult life thinking self-care was selfish and shameful. 

So, I empathize with those of you that think self-care sounds selfish or that you don’t have the time, the money, the resources, or the “know-how” to dedicate yourself to something like that.

That’s EXACTLY why you need a self-care checklist!!  See how this is all coming together?!?!  🙂

Advantages of Creating Your Self-Care Checklist:

1.) It creates a visual record or accountability if you will.  Look, this one is huge for me.  I am a MASTER planner.  I can literally plan the crap out of anything.  I have backup plans for the plans.  It’s crazy.

But guess what?  All the plans in the world are useless if you don’t actually follow through.  Who knew?

So having a handy little checklist allows you to SEE how you are doing with sticking to your self-care “plan.”

2.) It helps to develop a habit.  We ALL know that doing something once or twice isn’t the same as having an actual routine.  Ever gone to the gym three times in a week and then been like, “Damn! I did GOOD!!” and then never get back again the rest of the month? 

Not the most effective workout plan, eh?  Yep, been there, done it.  So here again, creating a self-care routine and checklist is the key to making sure you practice self-care on a regular basis.

3.) You can track your progress!!  Seeing those checkmarks lining up gives you such a sense of victory.  It’s a visual reminder that you have made strides in taking care of yourself.

How to Get Started Creating Your Checklist:

As you start the process of creating your self-care checklist, it’s important to take some time and ask yourself some critical questions:

  • What kind of approach speaks to me?  For instance, do you like to work with pen and paper, or do you prefer a digital method?
  • Are my finances a factor? For example, if you are on a tight budget, you may want more free or low-cost ideas as opposed to more expensive options.
  • Am I trying to go from 0 to 60 immediately? Meaning, are you setting up a checklist trying to go from no self-care to expert self-care in one week? Will you then get down on yourself when you can’t complete all the things you write down? If so, that’s not helpful. You want to make a reasonable list that emphasizes success!!
  • What kind of time can I realistically set aside? This kind of ties to the idea above. If you truly only have 15 minutes a day to set aside at first, then don’t have a list of 50 things to do. Try to keep it in balance.
  • What has worked, or not worked, in the past? Learn from your past. If you have attempted something like this before, think back and remember what was positive and what was not. Use those lessons to set yourself up for greater success this time.

Tips I have Found Success With:

These are just some things that I have found helpful in my personal self-care practice.  Take any of these that resonate with you and use them.  Ignore the rest. 

I prefer to set my checklist up with many ideas to choose from.  I don’t use the list as a daily “must-do” list.  I use it to have lots of options to inspire myself.  Some days I like to listen to music; other days, I want to recite affirmations.  I use my list to inspire me.  It’s not there to beat me up or be a taskmaster.

I like to divide my ideas into my three categories.  That way, I remember throughout the week to choose ideas to practice across the three categories so that I don’t lean too heavily in one direction.  I find it to be a helpful way to stay well-rounded in my self-care practice.

I like to view my checklist as a “toolbelt” or “toolbox  .”There are lots of tools to use.  The more options I have, the more pleased I am with the final result.  😊

Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your checklist frequently.  As life moves on, things change; YOU change.  It is perfectly natural that your self-care practice will change and evolve as well.  Don’t be afraid to review it, update it,  or overhaul it completely. 

stack of planners and note pad with a pen on top. Just start!!

Finally, I passionately urge you just to start.  Whatever form your self-care checklist takes is perfectly fine.  You cannot get this wrong.  Just start.  Commit to 15 minutes a day.  Do one thing.  Whatever it is.  Just start somewhere and let this idea of a self-care practice evolve into a beautiful gift in your life!  I promise you it will be so very worthwhile!

Please comment below and let me know your favorite self-care idea and if you have started a checklist for yourself!

With Love and Acceptance,


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