Updated: Nov 26, 2020
The Four Pillars of Self-Care by Haley Broadaway
Self-Care has been a hot topic this year. It has been a rough year for most people, and everyone is trying to stay afloat in this storm that is 2020. With the pandemic surging and the Holidays around the corner, anxiety and stress levels are certainly running high. It is common for us to use self-care as a survival tool for circumstances when we are knee-deep in “the mud” that is life. I want to invite everyone to imagine self-care as something one practices regularly as you would any skill you would attempt to master. The great part is, we subconsciously do it every day.
Imagine emotional-self-care as your heart. We use our heart to express love, care about what is meaningful to us, and consistently build our relationships with ourselves and others.
Boundaries: I find that the foundation of emotional self-care is the ability to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious resources, and while it is only natural to want to help others – we also must recognize how we help ourselves.
Examples of Boundaries:
Honoring your time to reflect in a non-judgmental way.
Making space for your emotions
Fulfilling personal needs before tending to others
Showing yourself respect by upholding your standards
Combat avoidance by completing achievable tasks
You can find small victories with boundaries by using what you already have in your emotional toolbox. Take all the time you need, and most importantly, listen to yourself.
Connection: Connecting with others is a significant portion of emotional self-care. We have all had to get creative with how we facilitate connection with those we love due to our current circumstances. Keep going; those small texts and snap chats go a long way. Remember: Find connection in a variety of contexts, given that it provides constructive comfort.
Examples of Connection:
Taking the time to delve into a juicy book, then have a discussion.
Playing a video or tabletop game
Snuggling with a pet
Journaling your thoughts for facilitating positive reflection
Self-Affirmation: Self-Affirmation is all about being kind to yourself. When you struggle with mental illness, self-connection, and boundaries can be unbearably difficult. I see and hear you. Your attempts are welcome and valid. Your wins, no matter the size, are wins. Acknowledge something productive you have done. If you feel there is nothing positive to affirm, then affirm your existence. Your presence is enough.
Remember, Self-care lives within your context, not the context of others.
Spiritual self-care and religion are not mutually exclusive. Spiritual self-care is about what gives you meaning, purpose, and a sense of belonging. Prayer and meditation can be a part of your spiritual self-care practice, and so can an extensive bedtime routine. I had a client once tell me that applying makeup was part of her spiritual self-care. She found her makeup routine to be cathartic and found space to self-reflect during that time. Acknowledge the pieces of your life that are non-materialistic. Give gratitude to/for whomever/whatever helps you feel complete and at peace.
Examples of Spiritual Self-Care:
Activities that nurture your spirit
Meditation and contemplation
Acts of compassion
This self-care pillar can be overlooked. Your mind gives you the ability to think for yourself, grow from your experiences, and learn new information. Engaging in reflection exercises is an essential practice for psychological self-care. Sometimes it resembles using your critical thinking skills, challenging your core beliefs, or self-reflection exercises. Having a sense of self-awareness is not a weakness; it is a symbol of personal strength. Psychological self-care can be intimidating but is an obtainable therapeutic goal. Therapy is an excellent tool for self-care and self-maintenance. Nothing has to be “wrong” to visit with a therapist. Most of the time, it is a means of prevention science to help you prepare for those hard to deal with moments that catch you by surprise. Visit Psychology Today to find a therapist in your area (www.psychologytoday.com). Not everyone is open to therapy, and that is ok – you can still rehearse psychological self-care through consistent cultivation.
Examples of Psychological Self-Care:
Consultation and supervision
Physical self-care is all about your body. Actively engaging with your body daily can enhance your self-care routine. It is not about an ideal image or societal body expectations. Actively participating in life is a form of self-care practice. What that looks like in your context is up to you. Remember, there are no wrong answers.
Examples of Physical Self-Care:
Drinking plenty of water.
Making physical space for yourself
This completes the Four Pillars of Self Care. I encourage you to find aspects of your life where you can acknowledge self-care. Give yourself credit where credit is due. You deserve it because you are worthy. Thank you for taking the time to practice with me today.
Stay safe and healthy,