The 5 Pillars of Self-Care

This kind of internal battle and mental bargaining happens every day in our lives, so maybe many of you are familiar with it. Many of my clients say that in today’s fast-paced world, there is more pressure to succeed in all aspect of life, whether it be parenting, relationships, careers, or socializing. We become disoriented and disconnected from our true selves when we experience more and more pressure from various directions. We frequently lose the valuable feedback loop we need to balance our lives and feel in control when we get disconnected from ourselves. Our thoughts and behaviors then tend to become mindless and frantic, and life blurs. Our job, productivity, and interpersonal relationships are frequently negatively impacted as a result of this.

The good news is that by putting straightforward mechanisms in place to support being more mindful and intentional, we may learn to re-center ourselves. I refer to it as the “5 Pillars of Self-Care,” and it aids in bringing harmony and balance to our internal selves. They are: mindfulness, food, sleep, exercise, and social contacts. These five pillars appear so straightforward at first. However, if you take a good look at your daily routine, it could help you identify which of these 5 areas you naturally lean towards and which require more focus.

1. Diet

We often say that we are what we consume. There is a good reason why the diet market is a billion dollar gold mine that always produces new diet fads. The easiest rule of thumb, though, is to pay attention to what you put in your body. “Am I eating regularly spaced meals throughout the day, and am I eating foods that are healthy, nutritious, and wholesome?” should be your first question.

Food is medicine, and it has a significant impact on how we feel and how well we can control our emotions. You may find that skipping meals makes you generally irritable; you may become irritable with coworkers and family members, lose patience, and lack the capacity to remain calm and make logical judgments. Additionally, it disrupts your physical and mental balance and makes it harder for you to focus on tasks. Too many sugary foods affect your blood sugar, emotions, and energy levels. It is equally crucial to regularly hydrate your body throughout the day to replace lost fluids and to maintain a healthy body and mind.

2. Sleep

When was the last time you slept for six to eight hours straight? Many of my clients complain that it is tough to switch off from work in this information age. Thanks to smartphones, ipads, email, and texts, the constant demands from managers and customers to always be “on” have taken on a completely new form. When you have your laptop and smartphone with you, even holidays aren’t truly relaxing escapes! People frequently work in bed till the early hours of the morning or sleep with their phones by their sides. They consequently sleep little, or sleep of low quality.

The amount of melatonin produced in the brain is dramatically decreased when you stare at laptops or cellphones at night, according to research, which impairs your capacity to fall asleep. A good night’s sleep aids in rebuilding and reviving the body’s machinery for the following day as well as allowing the brain to unwind, analyze, and organize knowledge from the previous day. Sleep directly affects emotions, focus, mental abilities, judgment, and reasoning. People who are sleep deprived while driving likely to perform poorly or almost as poorly as people who are driving while intoxicated, according to studies.

Sleep: Here are some things you may do to get ready for a restful night’s sleep:

At least an hour before you plan to go to sleep, turn off all electronic devices.

Before going to bed, avoid watching violent or upbeat TV.

Engage in some breathing techniques and guided meditation to relax your mind.

Before retiring to bed, read a peaceful or inspirational book.

3. Workout

The best natural antidepressant on the market is exercise! The majority of us have occupations that require us to spend the majority of the day sitting at desks or in cubicles. It makes sense that research has indicated an increase in Americans’ use of massage therapists and chiropractors over time. We must engage in quality cardiac activity for 30 minutes a day, at the very least five days a week. Endorphins, which help to maintain our happiness and optimism, are released as a result of this.

Exercise enhances brain function, memory, and rational thought. Due to the left and right movements involved in walking or running, the left and right sides of the brain are stimulated, stimulating both the rational and emotional parts of the brain. Additionally, it aids in maintaining a happy outlook and making wise judgments both at work and at home.

Here are some suggestions for including fitness in your daily life:

Every day at a particular time, take your dog for a walk. Your dog will soon prompt you to go for a walk!

Have a running or power walking partner to join you several times per week.

Take your spouse for a stroll in the evening to catch up on each other’s days.

While you are watching TV in the evening, practice yoga or stretches.

During breaks from work, regularly go for a short stroll around the block.

4. Interactions with Others

We are social beings by nature, and we flourish when we feel a sense of connection to and belonging to our social groups. The degree of connection required, however, varies from person to person. For instance, extraverts feel invigorated and come alive in the presence of others, but introverts tend to feel more recharged and energized when they have time to themselves to ponder and introspect. Whether you identify as an introvert or an extravert, spending time with your friends, family, coworkers, and classmates gives everyone—introvert or extravert—a sense of comfort, security, and joy.

If you’re an introvert, you might find it helpful to pay attention to the times you tend to retreat more inside yourself and make an attempt to socialize more. On the other hand, if you are an extravert, it might be beneficial for you to take some time for silent reflection in order to maintain a healthy balance. You become more aware of your energy levels, requirements, and moods when you frequently self-check. A sense of choice and control over your life comes from being aware of your wants. Therefore, to preserve stability, attention, and connection to oneself, a healthy balance between me-time and social time is required.

5. Mindfulness

This gets us to the last but most important pillar in our structure: awareness. Recently, this has become a catchphrase, with everyone from physicians to athletes to business leaders to celebrities praising its advantages. The ability to be mindful of and examine the current moment, including your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, etc., is what it ultimately boils down to.

Contrary to common opinion, multitasking really puts more strain on the brain, so by practicing a few minutes of mindful self-awareness every day, you are teaching your mind to focus on the present, be connected to yourself, and focus on one thing at a time. Being mindful allows you to have a direct line into your consciousness as well as be more aware of your partner’s mood, level of energy, and attention to what he or she is saying at the time.

Therefore, you might wonder, “How do I practice mindfulness?” Here are some practical suggestions for incorporating mindfulness into your daily life:

practicing a breathing- and body-mind-connected exercise like yoga or tai chi.

using a daily mindfulness practice or guided imagery exercise to sharpen focus

Paying complete attention to the activity, without any interruptions like using a phone, checking email, or reading the news, is known as mindful eating or mindful walking.

Take a weekly inventory of your five self-care pillars, and pay particular attention to the ones that tend to be out of balance. Pose the following questions to yourself: “Have I been eating, sleeping, and exercising adequately this week?” “Have I balanced social activities with enough “me” time?” “Have I given myself enough time for introspection and self-reflection?” For instance, it is a good idea to make a conscious effort to prepare at least 2-3 evenings each week at home and eat healthy, fresh food if you frequently work late and eat out. It would be wiser to put the TV off an hour before bedtime and instead prepare to mentally wind down by practicing mindful breathing techniques, taking a warm bath to calm the senses, and letting the mind factory sleep for the night if you frequently watch violent TV shows.