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The 7 Pillars of Self-Care and How to Use Them

Self-care is a buzzword that you might have heard a lot lately, but what does it really mean? And how can you practice it in a way that works for you?

Self-care is not just about pampering yourself with a bubble bath or a massage (although those are nice too). It’s about taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, so that you can live a happier and healthier life.

But, with so many aspects of self-care, it can be hard to know where to start or what to focus on. That’s why the International Self-Care Foundation (ISF) has developed a framework for self-care around seven ‘pillars’. These are:

  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Environmental
  • Spiritual
  • Recreational
  • Social

Each pillar represents a different dimension of self-care, and they all work together to bring a sense of balance and harmony to your life. In this blog post, we will explore each pillar in more detail, and give you some ideas on how to use them in your daily routine.

Mental Self-Care

Mental self-care is about cultivating a healthy mindset through mindfulness and curiosity. It involves engaging your brain in activities that challenge you, stimulate you, and help you grow. Mental self-care is important for developing a healthy mindset, reducing stress, and enhancing your knowledge and creativity.

Some examples of mental self-care are:

  • Meditating
  • Writing in a journal
  • Reading a book
  • Learning a new skill
  • Solving a puzzle
  • Taking a break from technology

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care is about taking care of matters of the heart with healthy coping strategies and self-compassion. It involves acknowledging and expressing your feelings, as well as managing your emotions in a constructive way. Emotional self-care helps you understand yourself better, deal with challenges and setbacks, and develop healthy emotional responses.

Some examples of emotional self-care are:

  • Watching a movie that makes you laugh or cry.
  • Listening to your favorite music
  • Writing down positive affirmations
  • Talking to a friend or a therapist
  • Setting boundaries to protect your time and energy.
  • Practicing gratitude

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care is about taking care of your body with exercise, nutrition, good hygiene, and proper sleep. It involves respecting your body’s needs and limitations, and giving it the fuel and rest it deserves. Physical self-care helps you maintain your health, boost your immune system, and prevent illness and injury.

Some examples of physical self-care are:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Drinking enough water
  • Exercising regularly
  • Stretching and relaxing your muscles
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Taking care of your personal hygiene

Environmental Self-Care

Environmental self-care is about taking care of your surroundings and creating a space that supports your well-being. It involves decluttering, organizing, and beautifying your home and workplace, as well as being mindful of your impact on the environment. Environmental self-care helps you feel more comfortable, productive, and inspired in your space, and more connected to nature.

Some examples of environmental self-care are:

  • Cleaning and tidying your home
  • Decorating your space with plants, art, or photos
  • Recycling and reducing waste
  • Using natural or eco-friendly products
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Bringing fresh air and sunlight into your space

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care is about taking care of your soul and finding meaning and purpose in your life. It involves exploring your beliefs, values, and passions, and connecting with something greater than yourself. Spiritual self-care helps you feel more aligned, fulfilled, and hopeful in your life, and more compassionate towards others.

Some examples of spiritual self-care are:

  • Praying or meditating
  • Reading or listening to inspirational content
  • Practicing yoga or tai chi
  • Volunteering or donating to a cause
  • Following your intuition
  • Expressing your creativity

Recreational Self-Care

Recreational self-care is about taking care of your fun and enjoyment in life. It involves doing things that make you happy, excited, and relaxed, and that bring out your inner child. Recreational self-care helps you relieve stress, improve your mood, and have more fun in your life.

Some examples of recreational self-care are:

  • Playing a game
  • Watching a show
  • Going on a trip
  • Trying a new hobby
  • Having a spa day
  • Treating yourself to something nice

Social Self-Care

Social self-care is about taking care of your relationships and building a supportive network of people. It involves spending quality time with your family, friends, and community, and communicating your needs and feelings. Social self-care helps you feel more loved, understood, and appreciated in your life, and more able to help others.

Some examples of social self-care are:

  • Calling or texting a friend
  • Having a date night with your partner
  • Joining a club or a group
  • Attending a social event
  • Giving or receiving a hug
  • Asking for or offering help


Q: How do I know which pillar of self-care I need to focus on?

A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as everyone’s needs and preferences are different. However, a good way to start is to take a self-care quiz, such as the one at the bottom of this post, to help you identify which area of your life needs more attention. You can also pay attention to how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and notice any signs of imbalance or distress. For example, if you feel tired, achy, or sick, you might need more physical self-care. If you feel lonely, isolated, or misunderstood, you might need more social self-care.

Q: How do I balance the different pillars of self-care?

A: Balancing the different pillars of self-care is not about finding a perfect equilibrium or doing everything at once. It’s about finding what works for you and your lifestyle, and making adjustments as you go along. You might need to focus on one pillar for a while, and then switch to another when you feel ready. You might also find ways to combine different pillars of self-care, such as going for a walk with a friend (physical and social), or reading a book that inspires you (mental and spiritual).

Q: How do I make time for self-care?

A: Making time for self-care can be challenging, especially if you have a busy schedule or a lot of responsibilities. However, self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity, and it can actually help you be more productive and efficient in the long run. Here are some tips to make time for self-care:

  • Schedule it in your calendar, and treat it as a priority, not an option.
  • Start small and choose one or two things that you can do every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
  • Be flexible and adapt your self-care routine to your changing needs and circumstances.
  • Ask for help, and delegate or outsource some of your tasks to free up some time.
  • Say no and learn to set boundaries and decline requests that are not aligned with your goals or values.


Self-care is not selfish, but essential for your well-being and happiness. By following the seven pillars of self-care, you can take care of yourself in a holistic and meaningful way and improve your quality of life. Remember, self-care is not a one-time thing, but a lifelong practice, and you deserve it.

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