A Beginners Guide To Self Care

When I told my husband that I was taking this month to focus on self care, he looked a bit confused. I know that he isn't the only one that doesn't understand the concept of self care.

Back when I was younger, I didn't call it self care. I called it going on sabbatical. Even though I didn't know it at the time, that was a very fitting term. The word sabbatical goes all the way back to the Bible. Modern use of the word sabbatical has evolved beyond Shmita to taking time off for some purpose or goal.

If you were to look in the dictionary you would see a simple definition: to care for oneself. I'd like to define self care as activities to improve welfare and reduce stress.

There is some debate about the technical aspects of self care. Some limit the dimensions of self care to 4 but I personally prefer the 5 dimensions. The five dimensions of self care are physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual.


The physical dimension of self care includes safety, health, physical activity, and touch. It is much more than just living a healthy lifestyle by eating well and doing exercise. Physical self care rewards you with more energy, better health, and higher self esteem.

Examples of physical self care:
  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Take a short nap
  • Try a new class at the gym
  • Snuggle with your spouse or significant other


Emotional self care is about getting to know yourself, reducing stress, coping with change, and the like. When emotional self care is practiced you are more kind to yourself and others. 

Emotional self care ideas:
  • Positive affirmations
  • Therapy
  • Gratitude journal
  • Saying no


Expanding what you know is the idea behind intellectual self care. The benefits of intellectual self care include an increase of general knowledge and an increase in creativity.

Examples of intellectual self care:
  • Read a book
  • Listen to NPR
  • Take a class
  • Learn a new language 


Social self care is about growing your relationships with others. Social self care helps with your sense of belonging and it allows you to form a connection with others.

Social self care ideas:
  • Make a new friend
  • Reconnect with an old friend
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Host a dinner party


Spiritual self care is about developing the values and beliefs that you live by. Spiritual self care is not just for people that are religious. Spiritual self care leads to finding your purpose in life. 

Spiritual self care activities:
  • Meditation
  • Attend a church service
  • Yoga
  • Prayer

A Beginners Guide to Self Care

Staggs, S. (2014). 5 Dimensions of Self Care. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 8, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/after-trauma/2014/03/the-5-dimensions-of-self-care/

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