Most of us are skilled experts at taking care of our loved ones, but it’s not always quite as simple when it comes to setting time aside in our hectic schedule to extend that same love and care towards ourselves.
A consistent practice of self-care not only allows us to feel happier, centered and more balanced, but also allows us the capability to fully share our unique gifts with the world and better care for friends, family and loved ones. We’ve all heard the well-known saying that you can’t care for others until you truly care for yourself first!
Despite the fact that carving out these moments in your daily routine may seem like an impossible feat, self-care is an irreplaceable investment in your long-term health and happiness that deserves your attention just as much as anything else in your life (if not more!).
Not sure where to start? These five fundamental pillars of self-care are a great way to begin building a rewarding practice of self-love that will nourish your mind, body and soul, and leave you feeling blissful, renewed, motivated and clear-minded throughout your week.
The physical pillar of self-care encompasses any processes or activities that affect your physical wellbeing, including diet choices, exercise, and sleep patterns. Our physical body is our temple and it’s absolutely crucial to set aside time to treat it with kindness, love and respect. Without healthy, nutritious foods and proper rest, your physical body will suffer and it will become impossible to move onto the other areas of your self-care routine. This pillar also extends to stress management, sexual health, and routine medical and dental visits, as well as limiting alcohol, caffeine and sugar consumption. Our recommendation? Start small by focusing on one not-so-healthy physical habit per week, such as cutting out soda one week or promising to shut off the TV and get one additional hour of sleep the next week.
The social pillar of self-care refers to your network of support, specifically your inner circle of family, friends, colleagues, and other people you interact with on a regular basis. As social creatures, humans require a feeling of social belonging and acceptance that comes from building a reliable network of supportive and loving people.
Having someone to turn to in times of need is a huge part of social self-care, because of the way it allows you to connect with others on a deeper level and not feel alone when life gets overwhelming. We all vary slightly in relation to how much social interaction feels best for us, but maintaining close ties with at least one individual who can provide you with trustworthy guidance, inspiration, advice and support is absolutely essential when it comes to practicing social self-care. Lastly, this pillar also extends to protecting yourself from draining social situations or toxic people whenever possible, as well as setting social boundaries and being able to decline social invitations when your body is requiring a different method of self-care.
The emotional pillar of self-care refers to healthy awareness and management of your emotions and stress, and includes all practices that can help to nourish your heart. This includes consistently taking time to check in with yourself and really understand your emotions in a positive way. During certain periods, such as after a difficult breakup or stressful deadlines at work, you may require more emotional self-care than usual. This requires giving yourself space to deeply feel, process and release emotions on your own terms in a non-judgemental and accepting manner. Emotional self-care also extends beyond ourselves and includes recognizing that everyone is dealing with difficult emotions and that we should strive to show others the same love, kindness and compassion. One way to practice emotional self-care today? Tell your significant other exactly how much they mean to you and why, or even better, try a heart chakra guided meditation on YouTube!
The intellectual pillar of self-care refers to all practices that help to nourish your mind. Whether you enjoy reading or learning how to speak another language, actively engaging your brain in new educational projects is an essential method of self-care. This can include not only studying up on new information or skills, but also mean simply maintaining a positive mindset in your daily life. Setting aside time just to learn, in whatever capacity, will inevitably leave you feeling more confident and accomplished as you expand your potential in pursuit of education and learning. Personal growth and self-development allows us to feel a sense of purpose and achievement that we are constantly moving in the direction of becoming the best version of ourselves. Our recommendation? Learning should be fun! Try signing up for a Saturday morning class in something that truly excites you, whether it’s photography, pottery or website design!
The spiritual pillar of self-care includes all practices that can help nourish your soul and refers to the beliefs and values that guide our lives. Regardless of your personal belief system, spiritual self-care is a vital aspect of self-care that everyone can embrace in their own way. It’s the idea of investing in something bigger than ourselves and taking time to care for our souls, the very essence of our being. This can mean taking time to explore a spiritual practice such as yoga or meditation, or visiting your place of worship each Sunday. Whatever spirituality may mean to you, this pillar plays an essential role in self-care by allowing you to extend gratitude for the blessings in your life and to appreciate the big picture of life as a whole. By helping to remove us from the often trivial issues we worry about daily (not “sweating the small stuff”), spiritual practices can help us to better understand our purpose, as well as the many mystical forces in the Universe that are outside our comprehension.