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MENTAL HEALTH SELF-CARE CHECKLIST

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a mental health professional. This self care guide was created using the work of psychologists and other experts, with significant elements taken from the book "Burnout" by Emily and Amelia Nagoski and the book "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk. Please contact a doctor or therapist if you are experiencing ongoing distress.

STEP 1: BREATHE

Take deep intentional breaths into your belly for at least 2 minutes

STEP 2: CHECK THE "mess"

In the last 24 hours, have you:

MOVED your body? Have a 10-minute dance party or go on a walk.

EATEN? Grab a snack.

SLEPT? Take a nap, or give yourself some grace until you're better rested

SNUGGLED? Cuddle a pet, friend, family member, or significant other

STEP 3: OBSERVE & EXPERIENCE

Tune in to your body and your thoughts and just note the feelings without trying to do anything about them for a moment. If you're having trouble naming your feelings, try focusing on neutral body observations: HEAVY/LIGHT, HOT/COLD, TIGHT/LOOSE, MOVEMENT/STILLNESS, FULL/EMPTY, FLOATY/GROUNDED, CLOSED/OPEN, SHALLOW/DEEP, PAIN/COMFORT.

STEP 4: INVESTIGATE & PROCESS

You may have your own ways to process big emotions--feel free to add your own to this list, or try something here that you may not have tried before. ​

  • Journal

  • Go on a walk (20 min+)

  • Go for a drive (cool neighborhoods or out in nature)

  • Talk it out with a loved one

  • Make some visual art (paint, collage, sketch, etc)

  • Write (poetry, essay, monologue, lyrics, scene)

  • Engage in your spiritual practice, if you have one

  • Use an app (Calm Harm for anxiety, Headspace for meditation, Yoga Studio for yoga, any exercise app)

  • Go to the gym

  • Talk to a therapist

STEP 5: CALM & COMFORT

Most of us already have our own "self-care" activities--if you know the things that help bring you back to a place of calm, do those things! Here are some additional suggestions. ​

  • Take a hot or cold shower or bath

  • Do something to help you appreciate your body (shave your legs, pedicure, face mask, exfoliate)

  • Read a good book

  • Take a social media break for at least 24 hours

  • Watch a favorite movie or TV show

  • Watch some YouTube/TikTok videos of cool dances, cute babies, or funny animals

  • Genuine laughter: Watch a comedy special or some YouTube bloopers

  • Spend time in nature

  • Do a puzzle or play a game

  • Say some affirmations (“I am valuable, it’s gonna be okay, I am loved and lovable, I will get through this”)

  • Masturbate

  • Clean or organize something

  • Sing (YouTube karaoke or while on a drive)

  • Have a big ole cry

  • Ask for encouraging words or funny memes on social media

  • Make a meaningful connection with a loved one (text, talk, visit)

  • Connect to your communities (fellow students, roommates, improv teams, etc)

  • Cuddle a friend, significant other, or a pet

  • Get a massage/Reiki session

  • Have a dance party

  • Cook or bake something you enjoy

STEP 6: bring in the experts

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial 988

or visit their website here to chat with someone

(Not just for suicide! You can call or chat if you're simply feeling overwhelmed.)

Utah Crisis Line: 1-801-587-3000

Psychiatric Hospital: U of U Huntsman Mental Health Institute

Address: 501 Chipeta Way Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Phone Number: 1-801-583-2500

Website: https://healthcare.utah.edu/hmhi/

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