I'm a disabled artist with CFS/ME, a complex nuero-immune metabolic illness that causes me to be limited to my house and often my bed. Explore my life making art with CFS/ME through my blog and videos!
Feb 03, 2019 | Posted by Zeraph
I’ve made a lot of progress this year in strengthening my body and increasing my resilience even though I experience chronic illness in the form of ME/CFS.
To stay on track with my healing effort, I like to turn to a reference that will remind me of my goals. I used to have a tendency to flounder around, feeling guilty when I wasn’t doing what I should be, but not quite making any changes.
Instead, I was just making myself feel bad all day by thinking vaguely about things I was supposed to be doing!
Now I use a daily self-care checklist instead.
Here’s how you can set one up too.
I’ve been using the Streaks app (iOS) to build habits for several years, but this year I kicked it into gear and have been making huge progress by using it in a new way.
You don’t have to use the Streaks app— you can use any app you want that tracks daily tasks (I linked to some at the bottom of this article) or you can use a paper checklist or notebook, a dry erase board, or whatever works for you.
The key to a daily self-care checklist is that the tasks stay the same every day, unlike a regular to-do list. Over time, the checklist helps build new, restorative habits that support your health.
I recommend you choose to build habits that benefit YOU. It doesn’t have to be what other people think of as healthy. Your body is unique and you know it best.
I like to shoot for several rest periods per day as a daily habit, for example. I also include things like taking my medication and drinking my medicinal tea. I listen to my audiobook daily because I find it puts me in a calmer state and makes me more ready to do other self-care tasks. Your tasks might be totally different, and that’s OK.
It’s useful to spend some time thinking about what makes your body feel good, what puts you in a calm state, and what rituals are most important for your health (mental and/or physical). Think about tasks you often forget to do even though you know they’re important. Do you forget to take medications? Skip out on resting enough? Do you need time for self-massage, meditation, creativity, prayer?
Though self-care is great, I also recommend you don’t shoot too high. Make it achievable. You can always make it more intensive later! There’s nothing that makes me abandon a daily ritual more quickly than if it’s just too much work, or takes too long. Do what you can do.
Note: If you have ME/CFS, please don’t choose exercise-based goals. If you have ME/CFS, I recommend that none of your goals are exercise-focused, even if you normally exercise. Use your goals to track habits that are always going to benefit you even if you are unwell that day. If you choose to exercise (while being aware of the risks!), of course you still can, but it should be a separate decision, not linked to completing your goals. The one exception that I make for myself is very light restorative stretching.
Okay, I will admit it: I love tracking things, and I love apps. Maybe you do too (or maybe you don’t)! The key is to find what works for you.
Personally, I like to track my goals in the Streaks app according to percentage of completion. Streaks lets me see how often I completed my daily habit in the last 7 days and the last 30 days. I set a percentage completion goal for the month and make sure I reach it.
Different apps will have different ways of tracking, reminding and rewarding you for completing daily habits.
You don’t have to track goals if it makes you anxious — do what feels right to you!
Streaks is the tool that works best for me, but there are lots of other habit tracking apps for Android and iOS, including The Habit Hub and these game-like apps .
What is one self-care ritual or habit you would like to do every day?