by Alisha Ramos, Founder at Girls’ Night In

For my fellow Type A people out there — you know and understand the power of a good to-do list. If it’s on the list, it gets done. That’s why I’m a believer in creating a self-care to-do list for yourself. We prioritize our work tasks, friend obligations, grocery shopping, etc. via lists, so why not prioritize ourselves in that medium, too?

In the past year of rapid business growth and management, I’ve had to make a more conscious effort to take care of myself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And not just the truly “treat yourself” moments type of self-care, but the mundane, everyday types of self-care that can fall by the wayside when you’re working a little too hard. Embarrassing example: Shaving my legs and moisturizing them regularly? Yeah, didn’t happen for a few months. I’m all for embracing your natural body hair, but this is an example of a small, mundane task that I know helps me feel good and extra pampered, yet I didn’t do it for a while.

Now that the holidays are here, it’s becoming even more imperative that I bake time into my schedule to prioritize myself before getting swept up in all the end-of-year madness. A whirlwind of gifting, holiday parties, and tight work deadlines is the perfect cocktail for burnout and overwhelm, which is why I wanted to share my self-care to-do list strategy for the holidays.

Now that the holidays are here, it’s becoming even more imperative that I bake time into my schedule to prioritize myself before getting swept up in all the end-of-year madness.

Below, I’m sharing how a self-care to-do list practically works within my schedule, and my personal to-do list that’s helping me stay a little more zen during the holidays. Read on for more…

What is a self-care to-do list and why do it?

A self-care to-do list is something I made up last year when I felt major burnout from all the work hours I was putting into building Girls’ Night In. I wanted to not just talk the talk but walk the walk of self-care. A self-care to-do list is literally what it sounds like…a to-do list of self-care tasks. The tasks will look different for each person, including you. It really depends on what makes you feel good, better, and recharged.

For instance, while you might think of “self-care tasks” as things like “take a bath” or “try this sheet mask” (which are totally valid self-care tasks!) my self-care to-do list included items like, “take my pants to the tailor” and “make dentist appointment” and “schedule nail appointment.” — seemingly boring tasks that made me feel juuuuust a bit better about having my life in order and taking care of myself. Some were tasks that were taking up a ton of negative brain space because they kept creeping back up and I would think, “Oh no, I still need to get this task done.” Enter extreme guilt. Framing these chores as a “self-care task” was valid because having them finally ticked off felt like a huge weight off my shoulders.

By having this separate self-care to-do list, you now have a go-to place where you can immediately start on “tasks” to feel better instantly. No more spending even more mental energy to figure out what to do today for self-care. Open your list, tick some stuff off, feel great.

By having this separate self-care to-do list, you now have a go-to place where you can immediately start on “tasks” to feel better instantly.

Here’s my personal self-care to-do list this holiday season…

Now that I’ve shared what a self-care to do list is, why you should consider creating one, and how to get started, here are my actual to-do’s for practicing self-care during the holiday season:

1. Practice gratitude through gift-giving.

There are so many people who’ve made my year very special. Gift-giving usually gives me a lot of anxiety (What if they don’t like the gift? How do I budget for this?) but this year, I’ve shifted my perspective. Instead of viewing gift-giving as an “obligation,” I’m viewing as a (slightly more expensive and showy, lol) way to show someone gratitude. I’m also planning to spend a little more time writing each person’s holiday card, expressing in written form how much that person means to me. It’s a great way to reflect on your relationship with a person and show them that you care.

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2. Be present and savor every chance I have to get cozy and unplug!

I’ve started to journal right before heading to bed instead of picking up my phone. I’ve found that being on my phone before bed (especially Instagram or email) — gives me major anxiety and insomnia. So instead, I journal about my day in a stream-of-consciousness way, and it’s been a great way to relax. Aside from journaling, reading a book before bed (thanks to my handy book light) has been another great relaxer sans-screen.

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Ribbed tank, thermal lounge bottoms, hoodie cardigan by Splendid

3. Gather with the people I care about…

…and host them for a night in. I’m moving during the holidays so I’m so sad that I won’t be able to host a “proper” party during the actual holiday season, but I do have plans to host a simple housewarming party, cardboard boxes and all. Maybe it’ll be an unpacking party?

4. Gift myself an experience or skill vs. a thing.

I’ve decided to pick back up something I long ago abandoned — knitting. I’m buying a knit kit for myself to start, and asking my more experienced friends for the best tips and tricks. The second thing I’m going in this category is booking a facial for myself — a real treat for my dry and overactive skin!

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PJ set by Splendid

And here are 5 tips to get started with your self-care to-do list

  1. Pick your favorite to-do tool or app. This step is important. Make sure it’s something you actually currently use to keep track of your daily tasks. If you don’t have a to-do system in place—what kind of monster are you?! I’m kidding. I use the Wunderlist desktop and mobile app for my personal to-do list, or I’ll jot things down in my favorite notebook.

  2. Write down some treats: Is there a new serum or scrub you’re dying to try out, but you’re saving up this month and don’t want to spend the ? Drop that baby in the to-do list. Treat yourself later. The beauty is that Future You will know exactly HOW to treat yourself and adding a product to your cart has now become expedited, and you can skip the whole “what new serum should I try” Internet rabbit hole.

  3. Write down chores and household tasks: You know that nagging feeling you get when you have that one household chore that needs to get done and when it does your life would feel SO much better, but you just never seem to have time to actually get it done? I’m talking postponed visits to the shoe cobbler, tailor, a deep-clean of your bathtub. Yeah, write those tasks into your self-care to-do list, because getting these off your plate should count as self-care, no matter how mundane, when you consider the relieved feeling you’ll have once they’re done. (Note: Interestingly, most of my self-care to-do tasks fall into this category.)

  4. Dream up relaxing experiences: Is there an experience that you’re excited about but, likewise, not ready to shell out the money for? It’s important more than ever to rest your tired eyes and typing tendrils (that was my terrible attempt at alliteration to describe ‘fingers’) and try an activity that will have you way from the screen. For me, that looks like tasks like “buy a knitting kit” and “go bowling with friends.” Buying things is fun, but so is spending your time experiencing a new thing, especially if it’s with friends!

  5. Relationships: Is there a person or friend that you really want to hang with that you haven’t in a long time? The next time you’re feeling down or lonely-ish (hey, it happens), open up your handy self-care to-do list, see your friend’s name and text them for a hang sesh. Bonus points if it’s to share an experience that you wrote down on number 4.

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Pssst: Enter our giveaway with Splendid on Instagram to win a $150 Splendid gift card and PJ set, PLUS a GNI tote bag, journal, and candles!

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This piece was presented in partnership with Splendid.