As professionals, most of us realize the importance of making and checking lists. We may make packing lists, lists of presentation items we need to take along and lists of things to mention during our presentation. Some more organized people even have lists of lists! But many of us neglect to consult the most vital list of all – our self-care list. We are complex beings and must attend to ourselves – physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and environmentally.

Professional life is stressful. We are always on the go and trying to meet the needs of others while balancing the often-difficult demands of our personal lives. We find ourselves away from our homes and loved ones, eating airport snacks, sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings, lacking opportunities to exercise and dealing with delays, plan changes and set backs.

Before anyone in business heads out the door, we need to pack a self-care checklist to review on the plane or in the hotel. Attending to our needs on all levels will insure consistent health and balance. We will look better, feel better and radiate higher energy.

Following is my personal checklist.

Physically: Have I been eating well, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates as often as possible and eating good amounts of protein every few hours? Have I packed healthy snacks to take along, like cheese, nuts and fruit? Do I have my I-pod and earphones for music and my neck pillow for my comfort? Am I well hydrated, drinking at least 64 ounces of pure water each day? Have I been keeping regular bedtime hours, getting a sufficient amount of quality sleep? Am I keeping moderate exercise a priority in my life?

Emotionally: Have I been attending to my feelings and expressing myself appropriately; not holding in feelings or stuffing them down with unhealthy foods? Have I really been taking time to nurture myself? When was the last time I truly relaxed? I bring a journal along with me. This provides a place to vent or explore my feelings. Writing down how I feel can be very helpful. Clearing myself emotionally means I can better attend to the tasks at hand. I am less distracted or preoccupied.

Socially: Have I been spending time with positive people that I enjoy being with? Am I having fun? Am I paying enough attention to my relationships? Do I stay well connected so I don’t find myself isolated and lonely? Do I apportion my time with others with the alone time I need to stay balanced? Do I make my mastermind group a priority so I’m not functioning in professional isolation? (If you don’t already have a mastermind group, I would strongly suggest you start one and meet regularly.)

Spiritually: Have I been taking quiet time for myself? Do I spend time every day praying, meditating or just sitting and quietly breathing? Do I remind myself often to stay in the present rather than worry about the future or hang on to difficulties from the past?

Environmentally: Have I brought what I need to set up a comfortable environment in my hotel room (perhaps a favorite photo, bath oil, small scented candle or incense)? I bring along my down pillow that I put into a compression sack. This fits easily into my suitcase and ensures that I will get a good night’s sleep.

Whether on or off the road, it is essential to take gentle care of ourselves. The busier we are, the more we need to do this. Only by paying attention to our own needs, can we best serve the needs of others. I wish you happy travels and radiant health!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Denise Lamothe is a professional speaker and the author of The Taming of the Chew: A Holistic Guide to Stopping Compulsive Eating. She is a clinical psychologist and Doctor of Holistic Health located in Exeter NH 603-493-6043, or