A few weeks ago, I wasn’t doing a very good job taking care of myself. I was doing too many social things out of a sense of obligation, when I really needed downtime alone. I was working on some stuff in therapy that was taking a lot of our physical and emotional energy. I was getting overwhelmed and freezing up a lot (anxiety response), and not getting enough work done (resulting in me feeling more overwhelmed). I hit a point where I realized I needed to reorganize my life to get myself to a more functional place. To recover, I would need to spend a lot more time alone taking care of myself doing low-spoon activities (listening to music, chatting on the Internet, watching TV, going for walks), and then get back into a rhythm where I could start working enough again.

I needed a guide to help make clear my priorities at any moment, and help me feel okay about not doing certain things (social, work) when not in a good enough place. I usually exist “just functional enough”, functional enough to take care of our physical needs, get work done, and feel somewhat okay. When I push a little more, I get to not-functional-enough or non-functional pretty quickly.

So I made a flow chat to help with decision making, and remind me of what I have to do to take care of myself. This is the blog version of the flow chart (click to enlarge, it’s pretty big). I made some changes to remove information that was too personal, or make things more clear. My own version of the flow chat also has crisis line/chat information on it, which I removed as it was region-specific.

Self-Care Flow Chart

I am sharing with the hope that it may help others take better care of themselves. There are some specific aspects of our life captured on this flow chat that will not be applicable to everyone (being self-employed, having enough financial resources to order food for delivery, the things that we do to recover or feel good, etc). You might also want to have more, less, or different “how are you feeling” starting points. Or something different altogether. The chart itself should be put in a location so that it’s easily visible/accessible when you are at your worst.

So far it’s been pretty helpful for us. There are definitely some tweaks I will make as we go, but it has been especially good in helping me navigate the “feeling meh” state, to make sure I take the right steps to feel good again.

On a technical note, the program I used to create this is Dia. It’s free/open-source and available for Windows, OSX, and Linux.

Regarding switching (if this is unfamiliar to you), see our introduction to plurality.