Self-Care Savvy

Self-Care Savvy

The most important relationship you have in life is the one with yourself--and that relationship deserves some effort and love. 



Self-care involves consistent, beneficial practices of taking care of yourself to improve your quality of life.  It’s not about attaining perfection, which is impossible anyway.  It’s about honoring yourself enough to help you get through life to the best of your ability.


Using a holistic approach to self-care involves recognizing how different areas of our existence overlap and affect each other.  It’s a smart and uplifting way to make manageable changes.


To break these concepts down into more detail, here are a couple of methods to understand self-care:


·      Four Pillars of Self-Care

·      Hierarchy of Needs 


These six tips are useful in developing a self-care routine:


1.     Start with Joy

2.     Fill in the Gaps

3.     Identify Intent

4.     Explore and Research

5.     Follow Your Path

6.     Keep Going


Four Pillars of Self-Care


Self-care and wellness are known to have multiple pillars—aka dimensions or categories—ranging from four to 12 or more. The theories for these concepts vary in the number of areas to include. The general four pillars that are most well-known in self-care are listed below with examples:


·      Mental (mindfulness practice, mental wellness, problem-solving and mind stimulation)

·      Physical (health, diet, exercise, skincare, breathwork)

·      Spiritual (meditation, sense of purpose, spiritual and religious practices)

·      Emotional (relationships, self-soothing techniques, self-esteem, giving to others)


Each of these areas can overlap and influence each other.  For example, when one area is suffering, such as physical health, it can affect another area, like emotional health.


For anyone who does not feel spiritually inclined, don’t worry--the concept of spiritual wellness does not require a specific religion, philosophy, or spiritual belief.  It refers to one’s sense of purpose in life, along with guiding values.


Expanding beyond these four basic categories of the self involves more narrowly defined areas like relationships, nature, career, finances, etc.  There are several theories on self-care which expand beyond the four pillars.


Aside from viewing self-care in various sections of definition, it can also be considered in the form of people’s needs and motivations.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychology model outlining people’s motivations and behaviors. I use this pyramid model as a basis for self-care evaluation.  It's an important component of a holistic care guide because popular forms of self-care skim over our basic needs. 


Maslow's hierarchy of needs

The Hierarchy of Needs begins at the base of the pyramid, with our largest needs identified as physiological.  The next levels of need are safety, followed by love and belonging, self-esteem, and finally, self-actualization. 


Physiological needs are the largest portion of the pyramid diagram because they are the foundation for survival. These needs take priority over other the higher, smaller sized levels.  Likewise, safety needs take precedence over the next three levels in the pyramid. 


Self-actualization is at the top of the pyramid, and that's where I have the most fun with self-care.  It includes creativity, passion, and a sense of purpose.  


Each of us has the same basic needs, but our versions of those needs vary with personal preferences.  Using self-awareness to identify your specific needs is the best way to make a beneficial and enjoyable self-care plan.


How to Practice Holistic Self-Care


An individual plan creates the right motivation to honor yourself.  Whether you’re dealing with general stress, grief, mental health, or a busy schedule with little free time (or all the above!), finding ways to practice self-care can keep you balanced in life.


Avoid going for the general “treat yourself” hype commonly seen on social media.  After all, what’s the point of investing in luxury brands or services for instant gratification if it’s going to negatively impact your finances or level of stress afterward?


Considering self-care from a holistic approach can seem overwhelming at first. Below are some breakdown strategies to consciously use self-care in your life.  Consider what works best for you:


1. Start with Joy


a woman walking along a road

Make a list of things that bring you joy. Consider things like your daily routine, your goals, your relationships, and anything else you’re grateful for in life.


Some of my examples include: drinking tea, reading a book, playing guitar, working on a macrame project, hiking, stretching/yoga, traveling, going out in nature, swimming or being near water, songwriting, eating a delicious and healthy meal, playing with my pets, enjoying the company of family and friends, taking breaks from my phone and social media, listening to music, dancing, using the fireplace on a cold night, and organizing my home.


Need some more ways to brainstorm? Think about the five senses of see, hear, taste, smell, and touch to generate some self-care ideas.


Each day, pick an activity that brings you joy. Whether you pick something that takes one minute or one hour, go with what works best for your day.  Think about which area(s) of self-care is being fulfilled by your selected activity. Refer to this joy list whenever you want new ideas.  


2. Fill in the Gaps

 woman thinking

What do you need?  Consider examples of each hierarchy of need to identify where you aren’t currently thriving.


·      Self-actualization

·      Esteem

·      Love & Belonging

·      Safety

·      Physiological


Work on specific improvements you’d like to make for each level of need. It could be improving your mindset or time management, finishing a neglected project, giving back to others, finding a sense of community, staying hydrated, quality time with family, and so on.


Select 1-3 needs to add to your self-care plan.  Consider how much time and energy these goals will take and what is reasonable for you right now.  Keep this list of needs for future reference. 


3. Identify Intent


Ensure the ‘why’ behind each listed need is beneficial overall. 


A goal of working out more is great when the goal is to improve physical health, but it can backfire if the real intent is to compete with unrealistic, photoshopped body images online.


A goal of finding a partner is good under the right intention versus trying to escape loneliness or a lack of self-worth.


Be sure to keep in mind any reactions you may experience when making a decision to try something new:


Resistance usually stems from fear of change. Procrastination is a defense mechanism. Indecisiveness is the struggle between what you want to do versus what you think is expected of you. 


Negative reactions are common when venturing out of a comfort zone.


Find a healthy balance between intention and need. Moderation is key.


4. Explore and Research

 woman reading

Don’t know where to start with one of your self-care goals?  It’s time to research and find the right inspiration.


Whether the goals include financial management, personal development, scriptwriting, or increased flexibility, explore options and see what approach resonates with you. 


Browse for ideas online, read books, take a course, or consult an expert as needed. Set yourself up for success. 


This is also a great time to determine what will keep you motivated in your new routine.  Are you okay with staying disciplined on your own, or would it help to have an accountability partner? Share this post with someone who may want to work on their own self-care plan at the same time as you. 


5. Follow Your Path


yoga pose

Most likely, not every goal you’ve set for your path to self-care can be accomplished all at once. Start with small, manageable steps. Burning out on a self-care routine completely defeats the purpose! 


If meditation is one of your goals, dedicating 5-10 minutes to this practice every day, in the beginning, could be easier than aiming for one-hour sessions.  Build up to the end result.


Check-in with yourself and readjust your practice as needed.


 self-reflecting man

Also, don’t stress over the amount of time to dedicate to self-care each day.  One example of Self-Actualization is spontaneity, and an example of a Physiological need is sleep. Allow space as needed; give yourself permission to rest and enjoy doing nothing. 


6. Keep Going!


a workout

Self-care is a positive habit that becomes more natural over time. Similar to working out, you won’t see physical results by randomly going to the gym or occasionally eating well. Keep the end result in mind. 

Be patient and kind with yourself.  

Check-in with your progress to see which practices are working well for you and adjust as needed.


If the goal of developing a yoga practice is not working well with free videos online, try another approach instead of giving up. Consider joining a yoga studio or gym that offers group classes.


Understanding your wants, needs, and behaviors is important for a savvy, holistic approach to self-care. Use the pillars of self-care and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to identify what already brings you joy and what areas you can improve. Both of these elements are important in developing the best self-care plan for you.




Self-care isn’t selfish.  It’s about maintaining a balance of your needs versus the needs of others.

Internal negative reactions may pop up at times.  Sit with those feelings to understand and work through them.

And finally, return to this blog post anytime you need a refresher. 






Up next: Increasing Self-Awareness in Relationships