Life doesn’t always proceed smoothly, to put it mildly. When challenges you face prove difficult to handle, it can tax your emotional health, especially if your overall well-being already has some room for improvement.

When you feel physically and emotionally well, it’s often easier to navigate stressors in healthy and productive ways. That’s what makes self-care — practices that promote mind and body wellness — so important.

Self-care doesn’t look the same for everyone, however. Your go-to approach for managing stress may not help your best friend. And even partners in close, healthy relationships tend to have different needs for things like companionship, exercise, and leisure time.

Yes, that means there’s no one-size-fits-all self-care checklist, despite what the internet might tell you. So, how are you supposed to know what works for you?

To get some insight, we reached out to P. Jeremy Dew, licensed professional counselor and clinical director of The Oakwood Collaborative in College Station, Texas.

“It’s important to think about the needs currently going unmet and the self-care that is uniquely fit to meet those needs,” he says.

A solid self-care checklist will reflect your specific needs, habits, and time considerations. It might take a little effort to develop, but you’ll probably find this investment entirely worth it in the long run.

First, a few things to ask yourself throughout the process:

As you get into the specifics of self-care, use these questions to help keep your plan workable and relevant to your needs.

Do I see myself using this approach?

Your self-care plan won’t have much benefit if you don’t put it into action.

Maybe you’ve read about the benefits of gardening and want to start a garden, but you really dislike dirt, and grubs and worms churn your stomach.

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