Post Updated on February 10, 2021
For an updated version of this list, check out the seven pillars of self-care here.
Are you tired of hearing the word self-care yet? These days, the whole world seems to be talking about making time for you and starting your own self-care routine (oh wait, I totally did that too). Even though this topic is all over the interwebs, I’m definitely glad to see people retreating from the culture of busy and realizing that finding time for ourselves is vital to living a happy and fulfilling life.
But, of course, with all of this talk about self-care comes a lot of misconception. It’s important to take a moment to make sure we actually know what we mean when we say self-care. Is it taking a bath, getting a massage, and painting your nails? Maybe, but there’s more to it than that.
Today, I’m going to break down the meaning of self-care, tell you all about the five different dimensions (which are totes fascinating if you ask me), and give you tons of practical ideas that you can start incorporating into your self-care regime. Boom.
So what is self-care?
Let’s get started with a quick and easy definition of self-care, shall we?
self·care // activities and practices we engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and enhance our well-being
I’m going to just pause you for a moment and direct your attention to the word regular here. These are practices we need to schedule into our days often, rather than just once in a while. Ultimately, self-care is about finding something that you can do on the regular to make you feel comfortable and relaxed, away from the pressure of your to-do list(s).
What’s also important to note is that there are so many different ways to take care of yourself. While certain practices may work for others, you may find that they don’t work for you.
I was recently talking to my friend Kayla about self-care, and she said she was having a hard time getting into the typical self-care practices like taking a bath and practicing yoga, but hiking was an activity that really resonated with her because it helps calm her mind down.
As you can imagine, there are endless possibilities for your self-care practice, and one way to look at it is by splitting self-care into five different dimensions that make for a well-rounded approach.
The Five Dimensions of Self-Care
There are three different dimensions that I emphasize the most when it comes to self-care: mental, physical, spiritual. If you’ve tried my self-care routine method, you’ll understand why. There are also two bonus dimensions: social and emotional. Incorporating activities from each dimension into your life means you’ll be nourishing every aspect in your life and ultimately getting better at self-care (probably without even realizing you’re doing it).
Let’s dive a little deeper into these different dimensions by explaining what they are and how they can benefit you, as well as giving examples for each dimension so you can begin thinking about which self-care practices you want to incorporate into your life regularly. Ready? Let’s do this.
01 / Mental
The desire to learn new concepts and expand your knowledge contributes positively to your overall well-being. Mental self-care is about finding the balance between stimulating your mind and giving your mind a break, and this can help with creativity, innovation, and continual learning. I’m a big advocate for personal growth, but I greatly appreciate the opportunity to switch off and let my brain rest for a while.
Examples of Mental Self-Care:
- Reading a book
- Taking or teaching a class
- Listening to music
- Taking a Media Detox Challenge
- Learning a new language
- Try this free 7-Day Mindfulness Challenge
02 / Physical
The physical dimension of self-care encompasses safety, health, nutrition, movement, physical touch, and sexual needs. When you practice activities for your physical well-being, you can increase your energy levels and boost your self-esteem.
Examples of Physical Self-Care:
- Trying a new workout
- Taking an Epsom bath or long shower
- Eating nourishing foods
- Dancing around your room
- Getting extra sleep
- Laughing out loud
- Smooching with your bae
03 / Spiritual
The spiritual dimension of self-care involves a personal practice that allows you to follow the values and beliefs that give you purpose. Dedicating time to this dimension can help you find more meaning in life, develop a sense of belonging, and find a connection to something greater than oneself. Even if you’re not religious, it’s still important make a connection with the spiritual dimension somehow.
Examples of Spiritual Self-Care:
- Going on a nature walk
- Attending a religious service
- Squeezing in a yoga practice
- Volunteering with a local organization
- Trying meditation or another mindfulness practice
04 / Social
Social connection is another important dimension of self-care, even though most people associate self-care with themselves (because, duh, it has the word self in it). But social connection helps create a sense of belonging and acceptance which we humans need, and it allows us to create and share a common bond with others.
Examples of Social Self-Care:
- Going to a workout class
- Walking with friends
- Joining or starting a book club
- Working at a coffee shop
- Organizing a family dinner
- Reaching out to a new person
05 / Emotional
Tapping into the emotional self-care dimension helps us understand ourselves more, cope with challenges, and develop and nourish healthy relationships. When we tend to our emotional needs, we cultivate a greater sense of compassion, kindness, and love for ourselves and others.
Examples of Emotional Self-Care:
- Writing in a gratitude journal
- Saying positive affirmations
- Diffusing essential oils
- Saying no
- Writing yourself a letter
- Connecting with a friend
- Seeing a therapist
Thank you to The Gottman Institute for creating this graphic!
Putting It Into Practice
Now that you’ve learned all about the dimensions of self-care, think about how you might start to incorporate them into your regular routine. Maybe it’s walking with a friend on your lunch break, reading a book before bed, or trying out some positive affirmations in the morning. You could also try incorporating them into the Self-Care Power Hour if that jives with you. Just think about what you would find fun or relaxing and make a conscious effort to do more of it!
Did you like this post?
What do you think about the five dimensions of self-care? Have they changed your perspective of self-care in any way? Let us know in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your favorite self-care practice and how you plan to incorporate the self-care dimensions into your routine.