Supervisors Should Have Their Own Self-Care Plan

A Twelve Step Self Care Plan for Supervisors and Managers

Based on a chapter from my book “Being a Supervisor 1.0: a Handbook for the New, Aspiring, and Experienced Supervisor and available from

In my earlier article “Thanks for Flying Self-Care Air” I explained that self-care, though important to a supervisor’s long term emotional and physical health and in the organization’s best interest, is often neglected, to the detriment of the supervisor and the organization. Simply put, if a supervisor does not take good care of him or herself, over time, it will affect the supervisor’s fitness and impact his/her job performance. I addressed the possible reasons for a supervisor’s neglect of self care and made the case for practicing good self-care in my earlier article “Thank You for Flying Self-Care Air”.  I won’t rehash that here rather, I want to present a methodology for developing a step by step approach to developing your own individualized “Self-Care Plan”.

1. If you are not convinced of the need to practice good self-care, read my previous article “Thank you for flying self-care air, read chapter 15 in my book “Being a Supervisor 1.0”, or just google the topic of self-care.

2. Each morning look into your mirror and say: “I will take care of my mind, body & spirit. I deserve it.”

3. Conduct your own brainstorming exercise of things you might do to take care of yourself. You can do this alone or with someone else, a peer, family member, your own supervisor perhaps (if you are have a problem generating ideas or if you are curious to see what ideas others have identified, I will include an actual brainstorming list a group of supervisor’s came up with when I conducted this exercise with them.

4. Evaluate/assess the brainstorming list vis a vis your personal preferences, likes and dislikes, time commitment, and cost.

5. Start to put some meat on the bones of the ideas that you identified in step 3. For example if you choose exercise, develop that further, like what kind of exercise, how often and how long; if to lose weight, how much, in what timeframe, even what diet; if to eat better, what does that mean; if to relax, how, perhaps, yoga, movie night, spa time, massage; if to get a good night sleep, how many hours and how, perhaps, no caffeinated drinks after a certain time, no tv after a time, relaxing music etc.

6. Caveat – if the plan taking shape involves changes in diet or exercise, it would be wise to consult an appropriate professions such as a doctor, nutritionist/dietician, personal trainer or exercise physiologist.

7. Draft your plan. It could be as simple as completing the following sentence: “I am going to take care of myself by _____. Perhaps you might want to divide your plan among categories like exercise, rest, diet, fun (what else). If you are feeling ambitious, perhaps a more detailed plan like completing a series of sentences such as: I will take care of myself today by _____; I will take care of myself this week by ______; I will take care of myself this month by; perhaps a few more sentences – in two months , three, six, this year.

8. Be careful not to set yourself up for failure by developing a long detailed, comprehensive plan that might go the way of New Year’s resolutions. A short one with just a few things, might better assure compliance over time (and can always be revised and added to).

9. Show your draft to at least one other person. It is a statistical fact that written plans shared with at least one other person, increase the likelihood of successful implementation and follow up. Perhaps share it with your boss, a peer, a family member or friend, even more than one, with the intention of discussing progress over time. Ask one or more of these persons to be your coach or cheerleader, occasionally asking how you are doing and praising your efforts.

10. Keep it in a conspicuous place to remind yourself, perhaps on your personal communication device, in your personal desk planner or diary, on your desk or bulletin board.

11. Consider asking your supervisor to include self/care as a part of your annual performance review and your regular supervision meetings.

12. Include in your plan, specific times to ask yourself “how am I doing” and revise your plan.


·       Commit to a vacation of at least one perhaps two weeks (away or stay)

·       Exercise – join a gym or take up yoga, hiking, walking, swimming, jogging, hiking, etc.

·       Practice meditation, guided imagery, deep muscle relaxation (Learn to “go to the beach, lake, mountains, etc.” in your mind. Maybe have a quiet place in your office or home to help with this.)

·       Date night

·       Fun activities like date night, family night or weekend home or out, boys/girls or friend(s) night out, plays, concerts, movies etc.

·       Read for fun

·       Take up a hobby (painting, crafts, play an instrument, martial arts, knitting, crocheting, stamp or coin collecting etc.)

·       Take up a sport

·       Calming music

·       Break or reduce a bad habit (smoking, caffeine, alcohol)

·       Start a healthy habit

·       Include self care in your job description and annual review

·       Lose weight

·       Eat Healthy

·       Get Rest (how many hours? how will you eliminate distractions? – e.g. no caffeine after___, no TV after ___ [yet some fall asleep to it])

·       See a counselor (privately or through EAP)

·        See a doctor

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