The reason I called this business and site SelfCare Backpack, was I liked the idea of your self care being a backpack or toolbox that you kept with you, and could dip into when you needed to. Sometimes self care has to change based on health, weather, time, etc and so having that metaphorical backpack full of stuff to try is a helpful way of looking at self care. I always wanted my work to be accessible to anyone, no matter where they are on their metaphorical journey and so that means having multiple self care activities for different circumstances.
Part of accepting and meeting yourself where you are, is figuring out what self care looks like in different circumstances. If you have a chronic illness (physical or mental) or a disability, its figuring out lower energy self care you can do on days where you have a flare up. If you have caring responsibilities or are otherwise strapped for time, it’s finding small pockets of time you can use to check in with yourself and look after yourself a bit.
I have different levels of self care based on what I have the ability and energy (and maybe time) for.
For example, on days when I’m having a migraine attack, the best self care I can do is eat something (dry crackers, a handful of cereal, something small), so I can take my meds, grab my headache hat, and go to sleep, That’s what good looks like for that day. That is me doing everything I need to for myself. Good work, me.
On another day, going for a walk is peak self care. I’m out, getting vitamin D and engaging my body, going to see some greenery and dogs in the local park. But if I’m having a bad pain day, not going out is also self care. Maybe reading, or stretching is self care that day.
If my anxiety is bad, or I’m having flashbacks, then maybe distraction is self care. Playing Stardew Valley, or watching repeats of SG1 while cross stitching. Maybe it’s therapy. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
Figuring out what self care looks like on a given day can be useful, because it means you have a plan for days when you’re not at your peak, but it also means you have options to work around whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
You probably have some foundational self care activities, ones that are habits or rituals now. Walking is mine; if I’m walking I’m processing, and feeling great (even in terrible weather). It’s always good to have backups or alternatives you can turn to.
I made the self care pockets exercise (free download) in order to provide a framework for you to figure out what self care looks like. Once you have your activities filled in, you can start thinking about building plans or assigning activities to certain types of day. The idea is to 1) reinforce that self care is important all the time, not just when you’re at your most productive, or healthiest, and 2) make sure you can make self care work for you, regardless of where that is. You don’t need to wait until you’re x enough for self care. You can find something for you now.