In this episode of The Feel Good Effect, we’re talking about how to create a self-care checklist (designed to work for the real you in real life). One that’s individualized to you, how you wanna feel, and fits into your everyday life. Including an incredibly simple step-by-step process you can use to make it happen.

Listen in to the episode or read the article for all my made-for-real-life tips!

how to create a self-care checklist (designed to work for the real you in real life)

Let’s walkthrough how to make a self-care checklist (one that isn’t about just giving you boxes to check off for the sake of it).

This is all about a real life, real you self-care checklist from a feel good effect lens!

“You are worthy of care. Going without basic care and basic nurturing will not get you where you want to go.” – Robyn Conley Downs

rethinking and reframing self-care

First let’s talk about what we’re not going to do. Around here we’re not about perfectionism – so this checklist is not going to be about creating a list of standards that we can’t adhere to. We’re not going to make it about an all-or-nothing situation either. Instead, we’re going to find our own magic middle. That place where we can find small shifts that create big change. And we’re not going to make it about comparison, whether that’s a comparison to other people or our own lives in the past. Instead, we are going to shift to a mindset with easy and flexible thinking. Fostering gratitude to find the places in your life that really move the needle and make you feel good.

When you look at self-care or self-love through the feel good effect lens, it changes how you perceive self-care. It takes away that feeling of selfishness or guilt – and reframes it as practicing essential things to take care of ourselves, so that we can do everything else in a way that is sustainable and feels really good. Maybe even finding some joy in it too.

I created a brief, printable Wellness Routines Guide to walk you through it all. You can use it to plan your self-care list.

Even if you’ve grabbed this guide in the past – make sure to grab the new, updated version of the guide here.

It is the simplicity where the power is. When it comes to anything in the domain of taking care of ourselves, we so often overcomplicate it. When I talk to people about the idea that 20% of our actions move the needle on 80% of our results, people are surprised at the simplicity of it. This is really about being brilliant at the basics.

“it is in the simplicity where the power is” – Robyn Conley Downs

simplifying self-care with the feel-focus-fit framework 

This framework helps give you guidelines and boundaries when creating your checklist – really getting at how you want to feel, what you want to focus on, and how it’s going to fit into your day.


When you don’t know why you’re making a list, it just feels like it’s yet another thing on your to-do list, which makes it very difficult to prioritize when you get busy or your schedule gets thrown off. Instead, when you start with how you want to feel and how that is aligned with your values, you can connect your habits and routines with how you want to feel to sustain them in a different way.

Take action: Spend some time writing this down (there’s an exercise in the book to guide you through this, too):

How do you want to feel?

How do you feel now?

What is the gap between how you feel and how you want to feel?

What would feeling the opposite of how you feel now look like?

Write down some words to describe your answers to these questions.

“Self-care is doing the things that make you feel like yourself.” – Robyn Conley Downs


Now we’re talking about the actions and habits, the “checklist” itself, where people usually start. Rather than thinking about the actions and habits you want to do as things existing in a vacuum, think about them related to how you want to feel.

For example, if you want to feel more energized, you might select a specific group of habits and actions related to things that make you feel more energized. This is individual-specific. For some, taking a bath might be relaxing but not to others. For some, going for a run might be a habit related to finding peace. For some it might feel depleting.

Get specific with it. Maybe you want to listen to music. But what kind of music?

There’s no specific number of items at this part. Think about the daily habits and actions that will align with how you want to feel. You can reframe the checklist concept to being more of a menu or buffet of things you can go to when you need a little care. Importantly, it’s not about what other people’s lists might look like and it’s not about what your list would have looked like last year. This is about you right now, the power of you in this moment. 

Neglecting yourself does not make you a better parent, caregiver, employee, or any other role. There’s a lot of stigma around self-care, and we’re here to break them. Neglecting your basic needs and neglecting your basic care is not a way to be a better anything. It’s a direct road to burnout. Self-care is essential, not optional. Creating this list is a way out of and to avoid burnout and a way of making sure that you can show up fully as yourself for the things and people that matter to you.

Self-care is doing the things that make you feel like yourself.

Take action: Reflect on what makes you feel more like yourself. Depending on if you identify as more introverted, extroverted, or ambiverted, think about your focus list related to where you get your energy.

Do you need more alone time items?

More items that include connecting with others?


Thinking about how to fit these items into your day is my favorite part. I’ve created the 4-R Framework to divide the day into four parts: refresh (morning), revive (midday), reset (afternoon), rest (evening). I like to fit my self-care buffet, menu, or checklist items into times of day rather than even really rigidly scheduling them. I also usually hook them onto something else happening in my day.

Take action: Take some items, habits, or actions off of your “focus” list and fit them into your mini-wellness routine (use the 4R Framework). Maybe it’s one thing at each part of the day, and it doesn’t have to even be more than five minutes. You are worthy of five minutes. Four small habits during your day are enough. It is a place to start and you can always add more.

Do not let the simplicity of this fool you into thinking that it doesn’t have a huge impact. These are small shifts for big changes in action.

You are worthy of care. Going without basic care and basic nurturing will not get you where you want to go.

“Do not let the simplicity of this fool you into thinking that it doesn’t have a huge impact.” – Robyn Conley Downs


Download my printable Wellness Routines Guide

The Feel Good Effect: Reclaim your Wellness by Finding Small Shifts That Create Big Change

If you want to stay in the know and be among the first to hear about the Feel Good Effect Certification that is in the works, sign up here.

other feel good effect episodes you’ll love

12 Easy Self-Care Habits for a Healthy Mind, Body & Soul with Dr. Zoe Shaw

A Simple Mindset Shift to Prioritize How You Feel (Over How You Look) with Dr. Lindsay Kite

A Self-Care Practice for Courage, Hope & Healing with Alex Elle

How to Use the 4R Framework to Create Sustainable Daily Mini-Wellness Routines

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