There is no doubt that winter can put pressure on our nervous systems due to a few factors. The cold, wet weather is dominating this year, party season, Christmas, low sunlight levels, increased alcohol, junk food binges, financial pressures, and more socializing than usual. Our nervous systems need all the help they can get to avoid making ourselves ill.
I often create a self-care action plan with clients based on their goals for the year. Clients are curious as to what type of self-care plan I use for myself to make it more likely to reach my goals too. I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t reach my goals next year when just a few tweaks to my self-care could make all the difference.
The action plan below has been created for me, if you want to explore using it to help you negotiate winters waters, then please take what you need and leave the rest. Make it as personal to you as you can to make sure your needs are being met.
Before starting an action plan, you need a few good reasons as to why you would want to make the end of 2019 and the start of 2020 in a way you would feel proud of. I would write just a few small goals down, which you think would make the most significant difference in increasing your quality of life. Have these in mind to help motivate you to act on your action plan.
Small incremental changes building up over a few months will help make you do most of this without even thinking about it. Doing an all or nothing approach tends to increase the chances for failure, which will make your 2020 goals harder to reach.
Self Care Action Plan 2020
I have worked out what is important to me from a core values check. Being inspired, inspirational, adventurous, challenged, motivated, motivating, energized, focused, connected, kind, and compassionate are my top values. With these in mind, I can set my subconscious to brilliantly hunt down situations, information, and people which help fulfill my values.
It can feel like spooky coincidences at times as if the universe is playing with you, but I believe in the power of my mind in making my life happen the way I need it to. I have seen clients access this by tapping into their values and changing the way they experience reality.
I make sure I am breathing to my diaphragm throughout my day to take the pressure off my nervous system and give it a chance to heal from the day’s stresses and strains. It’s important to remember that shallow breathing repeatedly to the chest stimulates the nervous system to remain on a level of alert. Breathing shallowly to the chest adds unnecessary strain to the nervous system.
Sitting still in a comfortable position and just focusing on my feeling my stomach rising and falling for at least a minute is an amazing way to recharge. If my attention wanders, I just bring it back to feeling my and continue from there until my set time finishes. The science surrounding the benefits of short recharges cannot be denied and helps to reduce the chances of mental fatigue during the day.
I also mindfully slow myself down as it’s tempting to spin too many plates, which increases my mental load, stress, and inflammation levels. Weirdly, I get so much more done, doing one thing at a time. Who knew?!
Morning intense cardio and weights sessions challenged with a team of people worked for me and set me up for the day. I loved being around people moving towards the same goals, and I have a competitive nature I like to exercise too. I have also to make sure I have fuel in my body; otherwise, I will feel tired, feel tense, and have brain fog from low glucose levels. It also gives me an endorphin and neurochemistry boost that feels a fantastic way for me to start the day.
Avoiding brain fog and lethargy is a top priority, and regular hydration is essential for feeling refreshed and energized. Most clients admit they struggle with this area but come with ideas such as cordial, water alarm reminder on the phone or carrying a reusable bottle to help them.
With energy as a priority, I must make sure my body is getting the nutrients it needs to make the neurotransmitters. I need to feel energized, motivated, positive, calm, focused and have clarity.
Fuel is vital for me to reach the mindset I need for my day. Breakfast is a must to provide my brain and body with the energy it needs to get the most out of my morning. Regular fuel stops throughout the day prevent energy crashes. Too many clients struggle with their fuel intake, leaving them anxious, tired and unable to think clearly.
I love my current research into what food keeps my gut bacteria the happiest, most diverse, and flourishing. Pyschobiotics, in my view, will change the way we eat for our mental and physical health forever. I have found out that, for me, a modified Mediterranean diet, which is densely plant-based focused, makes me feel good and keeps inflammation of my nervous system down too.
I love the taste of some junk food especially pizza but minimize this as much as possible as I am not a fan of feeling sluggish and unfocused.
My gut bacteria friends produce around 93% of my serotonin and 50% of my dopamine needs, so I need to make sure they are getting what they need, so I am getting what I want. Lower levels in winter are normal due to lack of sunlight, which is why I can’t risk letting old tastes for junk food and soda creep back in too much. I’m not an angel when it comes to food lifestyle, but it’s what I do much more often, which makes the difference. The 80/20 rule was how I started with 80% what I needed and 20% what I wanted, now its much higher due to my wants aligning more often with what I need.
I also eat sitting calmly down and not on the go or stressed. Eating when relaxed triggers my body to switch to a rest and digest process, which is vital for optimum digestion. To avoid bloating, cramps, or heartburn. The fight or flight response from stress can mess with how your body is trying to manage the food you are trying to give it.
Vitamin B complex
While I get most of the above from a varied diet, I do use some supplements to help keep my nervous system from struggling too much.
If you think your food lifestyle is a little beige and lacking in decent nutrition, then make sure you have a multi-vitamin like this one to take some pressure off your nervous system.
I take a probiotic like this one now and then. This one contains the six strains of gut bacteria, which have the most significant effect on anxiety and the nervous system.
I also add frequently natural probiotics to my diet, such as:
I also feed my gut bacteria with these prebiotic’s:
Low levels of self-investment to help me grow attributed to feelings of low self-worth, which was awful to experience and led to making some terrible lifestyle choices. To avoid that trap again, I invest in activities that encourage personal growth, the better I feel. The walk to my gym takes 25 minutes, so I use that time to study content through Audible which adds up to 50 minutes a day and I also study various courses online too. These are great serotonin boosters and another great way to start my day.
Finding something that challenges you and helps you grow as a person can be invaluable to how you feel about yourself.
Reset, Recharge, Refresh
I prefer to not listen to the news too much in my mornings, so I look on YouTube for something that will feed my lovely brain. I love hunting down and researching any topics that can help my clients, which again gives me a brain boost.
I have a few breaks and enjoy going outside for some rest air, food, water, and nutrition.
I often use a 10 -20-minute snooze or a 5 to 10-minute meditation, which is like plugging myself into a wall socket for some more energy. I became aware at one point that my phone was getting more recharge and care time than me, which was a little wake-up call.
I do need some chill time, so I make time for something fun with an indulgence in the evening, from a book, music, trash tv or an event out in London or Brighton. Variety is essential to me, as is my time. It could be my last day on earth, not to be morbid, so I like to add what I love doing to each day to avoid complacency.
“We all get what we settle for,” is an old quote someone once told me, and it reminds me each day not to just settle in my one chance of life.
I struggle with making myself watch television to get through a series, book, or film that I am unsure of. I have cut off points as I am not keen on wasting my precious time and evenings.
Spending quality time with friends is also essential for my wellbeing as I love being around people now; it used to be the opposite when I was anxious.
Sleep quality is a priority, so going to bed in a cool room and early, so I sleep enough to get up early for the gym has to happen.
Reducing caffeine and not drinking it after 11 am has helped me sleep much more deeply and easily. I have also just discovered I really like Matcha tea which seems to help sharpen my focus as it contains Theanine.
I use a sunrise clock which slowly lights up my bedroom to wake me up combined with the sleep cycle app to make sure I wake up at the right stage of a sleeping pattern and not at a deeper stage where I used to feel groggy and slap the snooze button on a few times. You can find out more about those stages here.
I would say my work-life balance is ok; it needs some improvement in places, and feeling tense is a sign worth paying attention too. I do know at certain times of the year, I will be out of balance due to my workload. It’s during these times I make sure I use small acts of self-care as an antidote to any stress that can come from being very busy. Taking five minutes just to breathe, center, and use any mind management tools at my disposal can help my mind relax very quickly.
I know this looks like a lot for me to do, but I have added these slowly over the years in increments so that over time they became a natural unconscious part of everyday life.
I hope you find this useful and by choosing what could suit you will help your mind look for ways of living which are likely to help you create the life you truly want.
If you would like help to create your own self-care plan with an intention to make 2020 your best year yet, then please contact me.