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  • Writer's pictureKharissa Parker

An Introduction to The 7 Pillars of Self-Care

Black woman with curly ponytail wearing athleisure looking over shoulder smiling
Photo by Lexi Holifield

After the pandemic hit, people started to seriously consider what self-care meant and how it looked in their own lives. It seemed that everything from eating better and taking therapy seriously to indulging in wine and bubble baths was all thrown under the self-care umbrella. I went on my own journey of discovering what practices and habits were important to my self-care experience. Over time, I realized I kept coming back to the same principles that collectively worked in tandem to create a healthier and happier version of me. Once I was able to fully articulate and organize those ideas, The 7 Pillars of Self-Care was born. They are:

  1. Spiritual Alignment

  2. Emotional Intelligence

  3. Mental Clarity

  4. Bio-Individuality

  5. Physical Fitness

  6. Awareness of Space

  7. Relationships

What's interesting about these pillars is that it starts off as a domino effect where getting in spiritual alignment naturally ripples into the other pillars. At the same time, one pillar can have a profound impact on another. They're all inextricably linked. Another aha The 7 Pillars of Self-Care provided was an understanding of what true self-care really is and what it isn't.

Self-care is more about who you are than what you do

When you think about self-care as a core foundation of your being, that perspective removes the pressure that comes with thinking about it as something that you have to do. Self-care is no longer a chore on your list of things to get done for the day. It's just part of who you are. Be it meditating in the morning, thinking before you speak, or setting (and enforcing) healthy boundaries, every action is an echo of your essence.

Self-care and self-soothing are two different things

For the most part, a lot of us were just trying to survive the pandemic. Turning off the news, binge-watching a show, and eating whatever comfort foods made us forget about the state of the world were pretty standard. While we slapped the self-care label on those little luxuries, the truth is that we were actually self-soothing. The purpose of self-soothing is to get over the hump by doing what feels good at the moment. Self-soothing isn't bad. It can help reduce stress, boost your mood, and remind you that whatever hardship you're currently facing will pass. Though it's not bad to self-soothe, it's easy to run into issues. Self-soothing becomes an issue when:

  • what you're doing is actually harmful to yourself or others,

  • you overindulge and compromise any pillars of self-care, or

  • it totally replaces self-care.

Self-care can sometimes feel like an act of tough love because, unlike self-soothing, it doesn't always feel good — but it is always good for you.

Self-care involves control, discipline, and awareness

The ability to be still when all you want to do is take action is an act of self-control. On the other hand, the ability to take action when all you want to do is be still is an act of self-discipline. For example — if your mother says something that triggers you, choosing to respond with love and respect instead of reacting in anger (pillar 4: emotional intelligence) demonstrates self-control. Another example: sticking to your commitment to exercise (pillar 5: physical fitness) when all you want to do is nothing is an act of self-discipline.

With that being said, however, awareness is an important factor in determining the best course of action. Maybe you haven't been clear with your mom about your boundaries (pillar 7: relationships) or what you need in your relationship (pillar 4: bio-individuality) at this stage of your life. Or perhaps your body needs sleep more than it needs a workout right now. Whatever the case may be, awareness along with self-control and self-discipline can help ensure your self-care remains intact.

The 7 Pillars of Self-Care exists to help you understand and implement true self-care into every area of your life. From work and family to your relationship with God (however you define God) and your own views and attitudes about who you are as a person, each pillar is designed for you to flourish. Keep in mind that the self-care experience isn't a destination. It's a journey and it will continue to evolve. Perfection is never the goal, but health, happiness, and peace are always within reach.

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