self-care prompt cycles

A few months ago, I started a few counselling sessions to get a handle on my anxiety around pregnancy and parenthood. I mentioned here the importance of mental health, especially around this changing time in my life. These sessions were helpful as well as some of the resources that were recommended to me (email me if you’d like a list of these). I stopped my counselling sessions a few weeks before my due date (with a view of continuing postnatal sessions if required), and one of my assignments was to come up with a list of self-care activities that I can practice prior to and after giving birth. I came up with a list of close to 150+ activities that I ended up writing down on bits of paper and placing in a jar. I’d pick a self-care activity the night before and stick it on my coffee machine as a reminder of what I needed to do the next day. I started this practice on April 2, and I can honestly say that it’s improved my outlook on the next phase of my life, I’m relaxed and less stressed, and I look forward to these short moments for myself as a kind of restart button to the hustle and worries of my day. If you want to know more about self-care practices and the importance of these in your daily life, there is an abundance of resources that you can Google. I haven’t included them here, but find reputable resources which include some background evidence from scientific research.

I had a light bulb a few weeks ago in anticipation of the April #RockYourHandwriting prompt for Day 23, and the ever-inspiring Jessica of Pretty Prints and Paper also shared her thoughts on self-care practice, which just gave me that extra boost to share my Self-care 61-day Prompt Cycle. If you’re not familiar with my Prompt Cycles, here’s a quick link to it.

The concept is the same as my Prompt Cycles – core prompts that are used throughout the month and then the order is scrambled for the following month. The difference here is that there are 61 core self-care activities instead of just 31 to correspond with each day of the month. My reason behind this is simply for variety, and I enjoy a range of activities, so I’m sure there are others out there who would appreciate it. Below are the 61 core self-care activities:

  1. Pour yourself a tea/coffee in your favourite mug/cup
  2. Do your hair differently today
  3. Indulge in a sweet treat
  4. Watch the sunrise
  5. Watch the sunset
  6. Walk barefoot – anywhere – for 5 mins
  7. Take a different way to the shops (or work/school/Uni/etc.)
  8. Lie in bed for a minute the moment you wake up and just observe the moment
  9. No social media 90 minutes before bed time
  10. Sketch/draw/doodle for 5 minutes
  11. Read 5 pages from a book on your reading list
  12. Check-in with yourself throughout the day to ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed
  13. Write a postcard to someone you haven’t contacted in awhile
  14. Journal
  15. Cook a meal whilst listening to your favourite music
  16. Dance your heart out to your favourite music
  17. Go for an early morning walk
  18. Go for a walk while the sun sets
  19. Connect with a friend or significant other through conversation even if it’s just for 5 minutes of your day
  20. Sit in your garden for 5 mins and just observe
  21. Enjoy a hot shower
  22. Do a mini-declutter
  23. Go to bed early
  24. Get up a few minutes earlier than usual and fill these minutes with some quiet contemplation
  25. Set aside some “worry time” (10 mins) where you allow yourself to focus on all your worries. Acknowledge them, then let it go
  26. Laugh: read or watch something funny
  27. Have a date with yourself
  28. Splurge on something small
  29. Stretch
  30. Give yourself a massage
  31. Take a photo of your day
  32. Window shop online or at the shops and create a wishlist
  33. Schedule in some me time and do whatever you want!
  34. Write down what you’re grateful for and post it somewhere you can be reminded of it daily
  35. Call someone just to say hello
  36. Turn off your phone today, or if you can’t for whatever reason, at least turn it off for an hour
  37. Sing in the shower, whilst hanging out the laundry, washing the dishes, etc. – just sing
  38. Cook/bake something and give it to a friend, family member, neighbour, etc.
  39. Listen to a podcast that interests you
  40. Discover a new blog based on your interests, and leave a comment or email the blogger
  41. Write some positive thoughts on a post-it note and leave it at a bookstore, newsstand, coffee shop, etc.
  42. Have a picnic in an unconventional place, like your living room or veranda, invite people you love to join you
  43. Make your favourite meal/snack and enjoy it uninterrupted and be in the moment (no media or work)
  44. Ask for help if you need it today
  45. People watch when you’re out today, but don’t judge, just observe
  46. Compliment yourself and mean it
  47. Look at the stars
  48. Take a nap
  49. Watch the clouds
  50. Read and enjoy a magazine
  51. Watch your favourite movie
  52. Only do ONE thing on your to-do list
  53. Do absolutely nothing for 15 mins
  54. Get dressed up for no reason
  55. Try a new healthy recipe for a snack or one of your main meals
  56. Daydream
  57. Indulge in a hobby
  58. Order dinner in or have someone else make it
  59. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers or arrange/pick flowers from your garden
  60. Drink water
  61. Colour-in some colouring-in pages

You can use these self-care prompts in a few ways. You can print out the Decade Thirty Self-care Prompt Cycles and place them in a jar like I’ve done, and pick one self-care activity to do each day. Place the used activity in a different jar so that you don’t repeat the same activity – you can use the prompts in this jar after you’ve gone through all 61 prompts. As I mentioned above, I pick an activity the night before, and stick it to my coffee machine as a reminder for the next day. I stick it here, because this is the first place I go to in the morning. You can place it anywhere, or even write it in your planner for the next day – just place it somewhere it’s visible so you remember to do it.

An alternative way to use the self-care prompts is to use the table below. Each number in the monthly column represents the self-care prompt to use for the day. For example, on May 1, you will do Prompt 31 ‘take a photo of your day’. This might work better if you want to plan ahead and want a bit more structure to your self-care activities.

1 31 34 27 19 15 60 1 12
2 7 12 24 51 58 15 35 36
3 1 33 54 47 53 56 2 3
4 35 31 51 59 21 1 47 15
5 23 50 36 28 47 4 9 5
6 30 51 25 21 8 59 10 56
7 6 19 21 8 60 15 52 45
8 21 37 47 25 5 40 56 10
9 4 60 5 49 25 21 61 53
10 3 10 43 5 59 47 54 28
11 18 57 35 43 40 29 30 37
12 61 15 17 1 51 34 48 29
13 20 5 44 48 6 41 53 60
14 49 23 59 15 42 48 41 35
15 17 17 53 61 49 27 28 32
16 8 55 28 25 3 61 34 42
17 11 26 19 60 9 24 38 48
18 46 35 20 40 10 19 61 44
19 52 24 48 4 38 54 3 22
20 29 42 8 38 27 2 49 47
21 59 27 57 39 4 57 12 40
22 54 58 14 34 33 17 37 26
23 33 54 1 6 16 42 29 25
24 27 20 56 32 35 45 22 57
25 16 13 41 30 22 13 9 54
26 26 48 3 2 31 52 51 58
27 40 52 19 20 46 12 4 33
28 44 35 31 26 52 20 36 49
29 41 47 44 50 7 55 6 40
30 43 7 2 16 11 36 27 38
31 24 22 50 34 1

As part of the self-care activities, I also journal a bit about my experiences. This usually takes the form of free-writing, where I just let the thoughts flow. My goal is that by mid-year I’ve selected maybe a handful of these self-care activities that I enjoy doing on a daily and weekly basis, so that I won’t have a need to rotate through several. I know that as a new mum, I won’t have the luxury of time, so giving myself some small pockets of self-care will do amazing things to refresh and regather. For now though, I’m going to enjoy the variety.

I would love to know your thoughts and experiences of these self-care prompts, so if you wanted to share, you can email me, comment below or share them on Instagram (#d30selfcare).

What are some of your self-care activities?


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10 thoughts on “self-care prompt cycles

  1. My daughter was born in 2013 and I am just know realizing the importance of self-care. I used to feel really guilty about taking time to do something just for me when there’s always a million other things that need to be done. I was always stressed and anxious and felt really bad that I couldn’t get everything done in a day. It was horrible. But I’ve realized that it’s honestly ok that all the laundry doesn’t get put away immediately, if I need to take some time to do yoga or hula hoop to feel happy than that’s more important.

    1. Hi Bailey, thanks for sharing your experiences, and glad that you’ve been able to put in some time for self-care. Spending time with your family is probably the best ways to spend time :)

  2. Thanks for this wonderful prompt! Having struggled through some hard times, I know how important it is to take care of yourself, but as a mum of young children, I also know how easy it is to forgo them and just keep giving until you;re running on empty.

    Some things that are on my list:
    – Mindfulness 3 minute breathing space; breath mindfully for a minute, focusing on the breath. Then bring your attention to your body for a minute and genuinely feel how it feels. In closing, spend a minute checking in with your thoughts, no judging, just observing) – very good excerise when you’re stressed, but hard to remember to do this when you are stressed!
    – Meditate
    – Read some of my favourite blogs on Feedly (amongst them yours :) )
    – Watch a TED talk
    – Drink some tea or coffee
    – Look out the window & just observe for a few minutes.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Afke, these are just some wonderful self-care practices :) I often do a one minute breathing space during the day as a way of checking in with myself, and I’d have to agree that it’s hard to just observe without judgement when you’re stressed. It does get easier though! Thank you for sharing some inspiration, too :)

  3. I like this a lot. I saw it on Instagram when you, I think, posted about this and then I forgot about it. Now I found it again. I want to use this as a help for some of my clients that don’t take breaks from working because they run their own business. Thank you!

  4. This is amazing ! I have been lacking in self-care lately.. kind go losing myself and my whole life is revolving around school.. this semester I am looking into taking a reduced course load and focusing more on myself and family and figuring out who I am again.. and I plan to place these randomly throughout my planner.. I am so pumped !! thank you !

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