The 3 pillars of self-care

If you’ve ever googled self-care then you might have left that search feeling more confused or overwhelmed than informed, because if you search for the meaning of self-care, here are a just a few of the definitions that come up on the first page of search results:

“the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.”
“the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
“the practice of caring for yourself when you are ill or to stop yourself from becoming ill” 
Let me give you my personal favourite, simplified definition of self-care, which is any action that you take to care for yourself and your wellbeing needs. The next question you might ask yourself is “what are my wellbeing needs?” and what actions should I take to care for them? We all have MANY different needs, and those needs change depending on the day, week, or stage of life that we’re in. When you think about it, your needs today are more than likely very different to what they would have been a few years ago.
When I run my selfcare webinars, I tell my students that when you’re not sure where to start with self-care actions, you can break your wellbeing needs into three primary areas - I like to call these our self-care pillars. The three areas that I like to break selfcare actions into are physical selfcare, emotional selfcare and social selfcare. Let’s take a look at what each of these might look like as part of a meaningful selfcare practice.

Physical self-care

First up, physical needs - this is anything that relates to your physical health. This is probably the area of our wellbeing that most of us are most comfortable checking in with, but it is possible to live in your own body and not actually be in tune with it. So, check in with yourself regularly and become aware of the different things you are experiencing physically in your body and the sign and signals it sends you.

To do this I love to do a body scan, where I check in with each part of my body by imagining I am scanning down it with a light, checking in with each area the light passes over to see what I'm feeling. You can ask yourself things like, where am I holding tension? Where am I feeling pain? What other things are you feeling in your body, can you name them or identify them? Can you think of what is causing this and then, can you choose an action to respond? So if you're holding tension in a clenched jaw, you might respond to that by giving yourself a face massage or booking an appointment with your dentist. If you're feeling a lot of aches and pains you might decide to run a hot bath with some salts. 

Check in, identify what you feel, respond. 

Emotional self-care

This is all about getting to know yourself and really building a relationship with yourself so you can understand your emotions, what triggers them, changes them or activates different ones and how you can help soothe yourself through those more challenging emotions. An excellent resource that I would recommend for getting to know this area of your wellbeing a little better is Dr. Julie Smith’s book Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

Another great tool for emotional self-care that I use daily, is journaling and I've created a 7 day email course to help introduce you to mindful journaling for mental health, which your can register for FREE here.

Social self-care

We give a lot of our own energy, time and attention to the different relationships in our lives - our personal relationships, our work relationships, our friendships, our partners, our families and children. Part responding to this area of your wellbeing is learning to recognise when you’re socially drained and taking some alone time to recharge. Another side to this is making sure that what you pour into others is being returned in some way, so that means planning and creating social opportunities that will allow you to feel connected to others in a meaningful way. Reflect on the people in your life that create those experiences for you and make sure that you’re connecting with those that fill you up and creating boundaries around the relationships that drain you. 

want to dive into this topic more? listen to this episode of Fill Up Your Cup...


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