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What The Five Dimensions of Self-Care Look Like

If you're interested in starting your own self-care practice or just want more examples of self-care activities, here's everything you need in one helpful guide! Self-Care Tips | Dimensions of Self-Care | Self-Care Ideas

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.

If you're interested in starting your own self-care practice or just want more examples of self-care activities, here's everything you need in one helpful guide! Self-Care Tips | Dimensions of Self-Care | Self-Care Ideas

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:

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

If you're interested in starting your own self-care practice or just want more examples of self-care activities, here's everything you need in one helpful guide! Self-Care Tips | Dimensions of Self-Care | Self-Care Ideas

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.

About the Author
Picture of Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! As the creator of The Blissful Mind, I love exploring ways to make life more fulfilling, especially when it comes to our daily routines, habits, and well-being.

48 Responses

  1. Love how you broke it down into so many dimensions. I tend to focus on the physical, social and intellectual elements but neglect the spiritual and emotional. Maybe it’s time to revisit my routine and try to incorporate those other dimensions. Great post! Thx


  2. I like how you broke it all down and make it simple (KISS right haha). I felt like this was something that I could actually accomplish :)

  3. I absolutely loved reading this. I’ve always liked the idea of self-care but I honestly never knew how to put it into practice. I love the way you’ve split this up and given suggestions for each – can’t wait to start putting these into action!

  4. I loved this post! & the box is such a cute idea! when I went to get it the coupon code was broken. . . :(

  5. I love this post! And how it is broken into subsections. I tend just group self care into mental and physical, which really isn’t enough. I need to expand my definition!

  6. This blog is precisely what I’ve been looking for, and needed! So well written and quite useful. Thank you for sharing. SPREAD LOVE❤️

  7. What a lovely post. I hadn’t thought about self-care in this way, and I realized I don’t hit all 5 aspects when I do make time for myself. It’s so smart to be intentional about the kinds of self-care we do!

  8. What an awesome post! It’s true that self-care is not something you do whenever you’re down but regularly to reduce depletion!

  9. Excellent! If we take care of ourselves in the many dimensions in life and seek balance, we are more likely to have better relationships!

  10. Beautiful post!! I have always thought of it like this as well, with the addition of Material Self-Care. This includes thing like a properly fitting bra, underwear without holes, that pair of jeans that makes you feel fantastic, etc.!

  11. Wonderful and insightful post. It helped me a lot. Reading your blog is kind of a mental self care for me because I don’t focus on school and enjoy a good blog entry aha.

  12. Thanks for breaking it down the way you do! That’s exactly how I’ve broken things down in my life. I’m a nerd and organize my phone and google doc folders just that way: Financial, Intellectual, Personal (I guess this could also be emotional), Physical, Professional, Social, and Spiritual. It’s just been a natural progression for me to bucket life into those categories, so it was cool to see you do the same! :)

  13. Thanks Catherine for such a great post. People usually focus on their mental and physical health (barely) and forget about the other dimensions that you need to focus too. Looking forward to reading more articles like this! :)

  14. Thanks Catherine, this is a great article on self-care. I particularly like that social self-care is its own domain. Particularly in this time of Covid when it’s so easy to feel isolated, it’s a great reminder of how important it is to prioritize this area of one’s care. I’ve only just found your web site and am looking forward to reading more already!

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