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The 7 Pillars of Self-Care

We all know we should be regularly caring for ourselves, but how do we go about it? It can be so overwhelming to search on Google for self-care ideas when we are feeling lacking in an area.

Understanding the 7 Pillars of Self-Care will help us to figure out what is going well, and what needs some attention, to help us wholistically feel and perform at our best.

The pillars of self-care:

  1. Mental
  2. Emotional
  3. Physical
  4. Environmental
  5. Spiritual
  6. Recreational
  7. Social

Does that list look overwhelming?

Catherine Beard says, "You don’t need to focus on finding a perfect balance. Instead, you might need to focus on one area for a day, a week, maybe even a month. When you’re ready, you can focus on others. What’s most important is noticing which one area needs attention so that it doesn’t start dragging the other areas down with it."

Let's have a closer look at these 7 pillars and work out how to apply them.

1. Mental Self-Care

Mental/intellectual self-care is using focusing on mental activities like mindfulness, curiosity, growing skills, enhancing knowledge and creativity to reduce stress and mental fatigue and grow a healthy mindset.

Mental self-care ideas:

  • Meditating
  • Writing in a journal (here's daily journal prompts)
  • Engaging your brain in a new way
  • Taking an intentional break away from technology/internet
  • Paint and Sip or other creative project

2. Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care involves taking care of matters of the heart with healthy coping strategies and self-compassion. You'll be about to understand yourself more, develop healthy emotional responses, and cope better with setbacks and challenges.

Emotional self-care: ideas

  • Listening to your favourite music
  • Asking for help when you need it
  • Watching a deep movie
  • Setting boundaries to protect your time and energy
  • Display, reading or writing out your favourite quotes or affirmations

3. Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care involves taking care of your body with exercise, nutrition, good hygiene, and proper sleep. Physical wellbeing, and an increase to energy levels as well as self esteem are the benefits. 

Physical self-care ideas:

  • Eating meals at regular times (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Getting 7-8 hours of sleep
  • Trying a new workout class or walking routine
  • Going for a massage, physiotherapy or other health therapies when you need them to maintain health 
  • Drinking more water
  • Taking vitamins daily

4. Environmental Self-Care

Environmental self-care involves taking care of the spaces and places around you. The more you take care of your immediate environment, the more it will help you thrive and feel a sense of belonging where you are.

Environmental self-care ideas:

  • Decluttering your living space
  • Going outside for a walk
  • Arranging your workspace to be more comfortable
  • Exploring somewhere new 
  • Appealing to your five senses (e.g. light a candle, adjust the lighting, put on comfortable clothes, sip a warm drink, and put on your favourite playlist)

5. Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care involves caring for your soul through activities or practices that give your life a sense of purpose, direction, or meaning. Dedicating time to spiritual self-care can help you feel more grounded, connected to the world around you and give you strength and comfort in difficult seasons.

Spiritual self-care ideas:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Prayer
  • Identifying your values & what’s meaningful to you
  • Volunteering or contributing to a cause you believe in
  • Connecting to God or a Higher Power
  • Reading spiritual books or listening to podcasts

6. Recreational Self-Care

Recreational self-care involves caring for your inner self with hobbies, fun activities, and new experiences. Recreation is important because it lets you get away from the pressures of life, your to-do list and simply enjoy what life has to offer.

Recreational self-care ideas:

  • Taking time for hobbies and creative activities
  • Reading a book in the bath with a wonderful bath soak
  • Going on an adventure by yourself or with others
  • Playing games
  • Switching up your regular daily routine

7. Social Self-Care

Social self-care means cultivating healthy relationships and connecting with people who get you. It’s important to connect with other human beings regularly. Seeking out positive social connections helps us create a sense of belonging and acceptance. 

Social self-care examples:

  • Spending time with people whose company you enjoy
  • Calling or seeing your relatives
  • Writing a letter to a friend (pen-pal style!)
  • Talking to a support group
  • Finding a community to contribute to (online or offline)

If you are not sure which sure which one to focus on, have a look through this list again and tick of the ones you are doing okay at. The ones that are left, pick one to focus on this week or month. Save this list as a reminder.


Source: The 7 Pillars of Self-Care and How to Use them. by Catherine Beard 2021

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