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

Learn about the seven pillars of self-care and take the self-care quiz to see which type of self-care you need right now.

Does self-care ever just feel like another thing on your to-do list?

Maybe you desperately need time for yourself, but it never seems to happen.

If you do a quick Google search for “self-care ideas,” you’ll find a million suggestions that leave you more stressed out than when you started.

There’s a lot of information out there about self-care, and the complexity of the topic only makes things more confusing.

You know you need to take care of yourself, but you’re not sure what that should look like.

I have a simple solution to avoid overwhelm: use the seven pillars of self-care.

Learn about the seven pillars of self-care and take the self-care quiz to see which type of self-care you need right now.

Seven might sound like a lot, but once you know them, you can better recognize what needs work in your life instead of trying to do everything.

Plus, a self-care quiz is included at the bottom of this post to help you determine which type of self-care you need right now!

What are the pillars of self-care?

The seven pillars of self-care work together to bring a sense of wholeness to your life.

I previously wrote about the five dimensions of self-care in this post, but I’ve since added recreational and environmental to the list because I felt they were missing.

7 pillars of self-care

The pillars of self-care:

  1. Mental
  2. Emotional
  3. Physical
  4. Environmental
  5. Spiritual
  6. Recreational
  7. Social

How to use them:

Seeing this list might feel overwhelming. You might think you have to find some perfect balance between them all.

You don’t need to focus on finding a perfect balance.

Instead, you might need to focus on one area for a day, a week, maybe even a month. When you’re ready, you can focus on others.

What’s most important is noticing which one area needs attention so that it doesn’t start dragging the other areas down with it.

Let’s explore the pillars of self-care in more detail.

How to use the pillars of self-care

1. Mental Self-Care

Mental/intellectual self-care is about cultivating a healthy mindset through mindfulness and curiosity. Mental self-care is important for developing a healthy mindset, growing your skills, reducing stress, and enhancing your knowledge and creativity.

Mental self-care ideas:

Mental self-care

2. Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care involves taking care of matters of the heart with healthy coping strategies and self-compassion. Tapping into emotional self-care helps you understand yourself more, deal with challenges and setbacks, and develop healthy emotional responses.

Emotional self-care: ideas

  • Watching a deep movie
  • Listening to your favorite songs
  • Writing down positive affirmations
  • Asking for help when you need it
  • Setting boundaries to protect your time and energy
Emotional self-care

3. Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care involves taking care of your body with exercise, nutrition, good hygiene, and proper sleep. When you practice activities for your physical well-being, you can increase your energy levels and boost your self-esteem.

Physical self-care ideas:

  • Eating meals at regular times (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Drinking more water
  • Taking vitamins daily
  • Getting 7-8 hours of sleep
  • Trying a new workout class or video (here’s a playlist)
Physical self-care

4. Environmental Self-Care

Environmental self-care involves taking care of the spaces and places around you. The more you take care of your immediate environment, the more it will help you thrive and feel a sense of belonging where you are.

Environmental self-care ideas:

  • Arranging your workspace to be more comfortable
  • Exploring somewhere new (even if it’s in your own town)
  • Decluttering your living space
  • Going outside for a walk
  • Appealing to your five senses (e.g. light a candle, adjust the lighting, put on comfortable clothes, sip a warm drink, and put on your favorite playlist)
Environmental self-care

5. Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care involves caring for your soul through activities or practices that give your life a sense of purpose, direction, or meaning. Dedicating time to spiritual self-care can help you feel more grounded and connected to the world around you.

Spiritual self-care ideas:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Getting an astrology or tarot card reading
  • Identifying your values & what’s meaningful to you
  • Volunteering or contributing to a cause you believe in
  • Connecting to a higher power (whatever that means to you)
Spiritual self-care

6. Recreational Self-Care

Recreational self-care involves caring for your inner child with hobbies, fun activities, and new experiences. Recreation is important because it lets you get away from the pressure of your to-do list and simply enjoy the pleasures that life has to offer.

Recreational self-care ideas:

  • Taking time for hobbies and creative activities
  • Going on an adventure by yourself or with others
  • Taking time to do absolutely nothing (and enjoying it!)
  • Playing board or video games
  • Switching up your regular daily routine
Recreational self-care

7. Social Self-Care

Even though self-care is about you, it’s important to connect with other human beings regularly. Social self-care means cultivating healthy relationships and connecting with people who get you. Seeking out positive social connections helps us create a sense of belonging and acceptance. 

Social self-care examples:

  • Spending time with people whose company you enjoy
  • Calling or seeing your relatives
  • Writing a letter to a friend (pen-pal style!)
  • Talking to a support group
  • Finding a community to contribute to (online or offline)
Social self-care

Which pillar do you need to focus on? Take the self-care quiz!

Self-care quiz

If you’re not sure which pillar of self-care you need most, take the self-care quiz to find out what to focus on first.

My hope is that this quiz will become a tool you use whenever you feel indecisive or unsure of the type of self-care you need. Come back to it whenever you need it!

Take this quiz here. Feel free to let me know your results in a comment below!

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.

27 Responses

  1. For myself, the 2 pillars I find most helpful are spiritual self-care through the practice of meditation and also religion. And I also find social self-care very helpful this especially since I have been injured and suffer from chronic pain being part of a support group has been really helpful. And you mention physical self-care were you said one act of physical self-care is to sleep 7 to 8 hours a day I myself hardly do that so it might be something to start doing as you mentioned. :) thanks

  2. Even just making notes from this list of self-care forms calmed me down and helped me ground myself again. Thank you for sharing this! <3

  3. Love how simply this breaks down self-care! Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I come to your blog and it soothes my soul. Always feel so relaxed after reading through your posts. Thank you!

  4. This is superb. When I start feeling flat, stressed, or frustrated, it really helps to take some time out to assess which area of the seven pillars needs attention.

  5. Thanks for coming up with this holistic list of self care. Self care and self love are powerful inner-life tools to transform and heal deeply. I find inserting micro-actions of self care into my busy days, helps me slow down, and reconnect with the present moment. Self-care is not selfish, but a powerful agent of change in life. thanks for sharing your insight.

  6. Hello Catherine!
    As a massage therapist, I love helping people release tension and stress in a space created especially for mental/spiritual/physical safety. My own self care includes DIY body polish and facial Thursday. Taking care of my skin feels great in the process and the result. Spiritual self care includes consulting Tarot every morning for the energy I should focus on for the day and again at bedtime to see how I did. One daily cup of coffee makes me happy. Journaling from time to time and writing something I’m grateful for in a gratitude journal are also fulfilling.

    Finding the right amount of pressure to put on myself is a moving target. Sometimes I need to ease up and other times I have to be firmer with myself in order to achieve the results I want.

    Great post! I wonder if you’d consider writing a guest post.

    Be well,
    April

  7. Hello Catherine:
    I work at an Aging and Disability Resource Center and am on the nwsltr committee. The ADRC works w/ lots of caregivers as well and because 7/24 is International Self-Care Day, we are doing an article to promote self-care for caregivers in our summer issue. In my research for self-care, I discovered your article and so enjoyed it, am using it for guidelines (with reference/acknowledgement to The Blissful Mind). Lots of good thoughts and information lies within. Thank you!
    Sincerely,
    Rich

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