Fact Checked

This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information.

With strict editorial sourcing guidelines, we only link to academic research institutions, reputable media sites and, when research is available, medically peer-reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by our trained editorial staff. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to medically peer-reviewed studies.

Our team includes licensed nutritionists and dietitians, certified health education specialists, as well as certified strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers and corrective exercise specialists. Our team aims to be not only thorough with its research, but also objective and unbiased.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

Your Self-Care Checklist: Stay Healthy In All Parts of Your Life

By

Self-care checklist - Dr. Axe

You’d think that “self-care” is a series of intuitive actions that are done naturally, but that’s not really true, is it? Practicing self-care really requires reflection and motivation. Your self-care checklist may differ greatly from your spouse’s, mother’s or child’s, so it also needs to be customized to suite your needs.

But don’t underestimate the benefits of self-care, especially during stress-inducing times. Over time, those who take care of themselves will experience greater overall health and longevity.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is really what the name implies — taking care of your personal health and well-being. You are responsible for your physical, emotional and mental health, and keeping these elements balanced requires some consistent self-love.

Researchers define self-care as “the set of activities in which one engages throughout life on a daily basis.” These activities are meant to:

  • promote optimal health
  • prevent illness
  • detect symptoms early
  • manage chronic disease

Self-care is essential. Although it’s sometimes viewed as a luxury — trips to the spa, retreats, getaways and take-out juices, it’s really made up of small, everyday steps you take to enhance your overall wellness.

How to Use This Checklist

This self-care checklist is a compilation of activities and habits that can be added to your daily routine to promote your overall health. You don’t have to implement all of these ideas, necessarily, but you can choose which ones are needed to promote your personal well-being.

For the most part, these activities are practiced daily or several times per week. Remember that one of the best self-care strategies is sticking to a routine and making these actions part of your everyday life.

Physical Health

One of the most important aspects of health is physical self-care, which benefits not only your body, but your mind, too. To take care of yourself physically, you need to move and fuel your body. Healthy lifestyle habits like engaging in regular physical exercise, eating a well-balanced, whole-food diet, and supplementing with health-promoting herbs and nutrients will have a lasting impact.

Research proves this notion, with one study displaying a linear relation between physical activity and health status. Researchers suggest that inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for a range of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, colon and breast cancer, obesity, and bone and joint diseases.

Another study, this one published in American Family Physician, highlights that “diet is the single most significant risk factor for disability and premature death.”

Here are the top physical self-care ideas:

1. Get enough sleep

Try your best to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, perhaps with natural sleep aids. Without enough sleep, you face an increased risk of issues like depression, increased weight gain and inflammation, and decreased attention span.

Practice frequency: Each evening.

2. Exercise daily

Physical activity, in any form, should be a priority. You can go for a jog or walk, do yoga, lift weights, ride a bike — you name it. Moving your body is key.

Practice frequency: Engage in some kind of physical activity every day.

3. Eat a well-balanced diet

We know that diet plays a leading role in your health, so focus on eating a well-balanced diet that’s filled with whole, fresh foods whenever possible.

Practice frequency: Daily.

4. Support your gut

Your gut health impacts so many aspects of your overall wellness, from immunity, to nutrient absorption, mental health and digestion. It’s important to support your gut by taking probiotics, eating healing foods like bone broth and fermented veggies, and avoiding inflammatory foods.

Practice frequency: Daily.

5. Boost immune function

Support the health of your immune system by using immune boosting herbs like echinacea, elderberry, ginseng and astragalus root, foods like bone broth and green tea, and supplements like vitamin D and zinc.

Practice frequency: Daily.

Social Health

Research shows that social relationships affect our mental, behavioral and physical health, and mortality risk. Social relationships can have both short- and long-term effects on our health, for better or worse.

Social self-care involves fostering positive relationships, providing and seeking emotional support. It also involves social networks that allow you to socialize from a distance, hopefully strengthening relationships.

Here are some actions to include in your social self-care checklist:

1. Engage in face-to-face interactions

Engaging in face-to-face interactions allows us to build positive, meaningful connections. When you can’t physically be with someone, use video apps instead.

Practice frequency: Daily.

2. Nurture your relationships

Positive relationships are precious and important for our health, so be sure to nurture the connections you have.

Practice frequency: Daily or as often as possible.

3. Practice small acts of kindness

Practicing kindness can promote healthy aging and boost your mood. It’ll also improve the mood of others, making it a win-win.

Practice frequency: Daily or several times a week.

4. Send notes and messages to loved ones

When you can’t be someone physically, small things like positive, uplifting notes and messages can benefit your social health.

Practice frequency: Now and then, whenever it’s been a while since seeing a loved one.

5. Get involved in the community

Community service benefits your social health and the well-being of your neighbors. It allows you to meet new people, contribute to causes that matter to you, and improve the lives of those in need.

Practice frequency: Once a month or more.

Mental and Emotional Health

What are you doing to benefit the health of your mind? Mental self-care is just as important as physical or social self-care because it influences your psychological well-being.

Research exposes, over and over again, that stress can cause mental and physical distress, leading to major health conditions. Stress can alter the way we sleep, eat, think and treat ourselves.

Part of your mental and emotional self-care checklist should be practices that benefit your mind and reduce stress. This isn’t the same for everyone, but here are some ideas:

1. Read an inspiring book

Reading an inspiring or entertaining book allows you to hone in on something enjoyable.

Practice frequency: Daily or several times a week.

2. Limit time on social media

Social media can help you to connect with others, but too much of it negatively impact your mental and emotional health.

Practice frequency: Limit time on social media to 20–60 minutes per day, and keep it positive.

3. Use technology wisely

Technology can be beneficial for a number of reasons, from working at home to communicating with people far away and gathering information on important topics.

But it’s certainly possible to rely too much on technology, allowing it to take away from physical interactions and hobbies.

Practice frequency: Balance your time with technology, allowing for technology-free time several hours a day.

4. Spend time outdoors

Take advantage of the many health benefits of being outdoors. It boosts mood, eases anxiety and reduces stress.

Practice frequency: Spend at least two hours per week outdoors.

5. Find an emotional outlet

What boosts your mood and mental health? Whether it’s painting, gardening, sewing or cooking, spend time doing what brings you joy.

Practice frequency: Daily or several times per week.

Spiritual Health

Researchers at the Catholic Health Association in St. Louis explain that spiritual health is the aspect of our well-being that organizes the values, relationships, meaning and purpose of our lives.

There is a strong relationship between physical and spiritual well-being, which is why it’s important to engage in activities or practices that foster your spirituality. Here are some ideas to add to your self-care routine:

1. Take time for healing prayer or meditation

Healing prayer can be very powerful, positively impacting our hormones, neurotransmitters, gut health, immunity and digestion.

Practice frequency: Daily (for at least 5–10 minutes), ideally at the same time each day.

2. Practice visualization

Practicing visualization, especially as you pray, will promote goal-setting, keep you on the right track and improve motivation.

Practice frequency: Daily, can be done with healing prayer. 

3. Read spiritually-uplifting books

Reading spiritual, inspirational books will improve your sense of morality and gratitude.

Practice frequency: Daily (perhaps in the morning or evening) or several times per week.

4. Get involved

Getting involved in a church or community group will foster your spiritual, mental and social health. It reinforces your sense of connections to God and others.

Practice frequency: Weekly or as often as possible.

Environmental Health

Research proves that environmental conditions play a significant role in human health and well-being. When creating a basic daily self-care checklist, including activities that will improve your environment and how you interact with it is key.

Here are some easy steps you can take to boost your environmental health:

1. Spend time earthing

Earthing, or grounding, involves walking barefoot outside, with the soles of your feet connecting directly with the surface of the earth. It helps to reduce stress, improve sleep and boost energy.

Practice frequency: Once a week, or more.

2. Declutter your home

Declutter your home to improve focus, ease anxiety and increase positive energy.

Practice frequency: A little every week.

3. Use toxic-free cleansers

Instead of using conventional, toxic chemicals to disinfect your home and body, stick to natural cleansers that won’t cause adverse side effects.

Practice frequency: Daily or when needed.

4. Reduce your carbon footprint

How can you reduce your personal carbon emissions? Eat local produce, conserve water, reuse and recycle, and bike or walk instead of driving when possible.

Practice frequency: Make small changes daily.

Final Thoughts

  • When life gets chaotic and stressful, it can be easy to forget about the importance of self-care.
  • Self-care isn’t a once-a-month trip to the spa, it involves taking care of yourself every day, without fail.
  • Creating a self-care checklist is an easy way to outline your physical, social, mental, spiritual and environmental health needs.
Josh Axe

Get FREE Access!

Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!

Free eBook to boost
metabolism & healing

30 Gluten-Free Recipes
& detox juicing guide

Shopping Guide &
premium newsletter

More Health

Ad