Self care is one of the most useful skills you can possess. Anyone can engage in self care by using these five steps. That’s not to say self care is easy. Uncovering your deficit requires courage and practice. This five-step approach should help simplify the self care process and illuminate the path to a more joyful professional and personal life.
The 5 Stages of Self Care
Self care is not about developing a brand new habit, but rather about combining the existing fragments.
The ability to generate new self care practice hinges upon the ability to identify the deficits. If you can form a new habit and meet demands while maintaining healthy relationships, you have figured out the perfect balance.
This process of self care occurs in five steps. You might find this familiar as this is the 5 steps of the nursing process.
- Assess. First, you self-analyze. During this stage you focus on identifying your concerns, complaints, frustrations, and nuisances. The material you gathered can be both subjective and objective. Subjective data involves your feelings. Tangible data can be weight gain and hours of sleep.
- Analyze. During this stage, you examine what you have gathered and classified into categories of self-care.
- Plan. Next, formulate specific goals to attain the desired outcome. Self care is not one size fits all. Explore and tailor the plan to your unique needs. Find something that excites and energizes you.
- Implement. For any plan to succeed, you must take actions. See if your new actions bring you renewed energy.
- Evaluate. Reassess to ensure the desired outcome has been met. The plan can be adapted based on new feedback.
The Idea in Practice
The following is an example of my experience to illustrate the five steps of the self care process in action.
First, I gathered new data. I was always on guard, easily frightened, in avoidance of anything related to the trauma, losing sleep to nightmares, and in constant stomach pain. By listing out the symptoms, I began to face these issues honestly. I was in denial for over a year with the pain, both physically and emotionally.
Second, I began to group the problems.
Physical: Stomach pain, interrupted sleep, irregular eating patterns
Emotional: Lost interest in all hobbies such as listening to music, watching movies, shopping Mental: Lack concentration to learn
Social: Avoid seeing friends
Spiritual: Feelings of shame, inadequacy
Third, I tinkered and experimented with different ways to improve wellness. Make sure the plan is something that interests you.
Physical: Obtaining scans for my stomach to rule out physical illness; sleeping 6 hours a day, and having proper meals
Emotional: Seeing a therapist, writing a journal, playing music Mental: Reading books
Social: Starting with inner circle of trust
Spiritual: Be in nature, engaging in self-reflection
Fourth, trial the interventions. Ask yourself if the actions seem like a chore. Return to the drawing board if it is. The self care practice needs to be sustainable for it to work its magic.
Finally, I continued to revise my self care practice. As you improve, your self care practice should get easier and you might need to adjust accordingly. This is a critical point and often overlooked. Your plan is fluid as you are constantly evolving.
The Self Care Process in Short
The self care process is the act of nurturing your health and wellness. It is the key to a fulfilling, balanced, and purposeful life.
One way to approach self care challenges is by following the five-step process of 1 gathering issues, 2 sorting the issues into different types of self care departments, 3 coming up with a feasible plan that excites you, 4 testing the personalized interventions in your day to day life, and 5 adjusting the plan based on the outcome.
Engaging in self care isn’t about achieving the perfect score in every department. More often, self care is about living life in states of happiness and bliss.
Mills, J., Wand, T., & Fraser, J. A. (2018). Exploring the meaning and practice of self-care among palliative care nurses and doctors: a qualitative study. BMC palliative care, 17(1), 63.
Purdue University Global. (2019, February 13). The Importance of Self-Care for Nurses and How to Put a Plan in Place. Purdue Global.
Toney-Butler TJ, Thayer JM. Nursing Process. [Updated 2020 Jul 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: