We all know that exercise, eating a healthy diet, focusing on nutrition, and stress management are key to overall wellness. So why is it so hard to fit self-care into our lives? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that we’ve all struggled to create healthy habits—those practices that help you love yourself—body and spirit.
At one point or another, most of us have probably wished for a quick fix—some magic wand we could wave to suddenly transform into a self-care champion. You know, the kind of person who gets up early, exercises every day, drinks green juice like it’s their job, reads two books a week, journals for fun, never stresses, swaps meditation tips with the Dalai Lama and never misses their weekly lunch date with their dearest friends.
Oh, and they totally prefer kale over cake.
Maybe self-care doesn’t have to be so hard, sweetheart.
True, there’s no such thing as a magic habit wand. But there is a simpler approach to good health and wellness—one that feels nurturing instead of nagging, refreshing instead of restricting.
If you’re tired of the endless task list and ready to find an easier way to love yourself, I’m excited to tell you about how I practice simple self-care using the 5 pillars of wellness. It’s a system I tapped into through years of trial-and-error. We’ll unpack each below and talk about how you can use these pillars to support your own journey.
My 5 Pillars of Wellness: The Path to Overall Health
So what are the 5 pillars of wellness?
- The foods you’re eating
- What you’re drinking
- What you’re thinking
- How you’re resting
- How you’re renewing
Together, they form my secret sauce for simple self-care and a healthy lifestyle.
True, there are tons of other practices you can use to support your overall health and wellness! But all of the best sauces start out with a strong base… and that’s exactly what the 5 pillars of wellness are all about. Think of the five pillars like the tomatoes to your favorite marinara or the avocados to your guac (ok, not technically a sauce, but you get the picture!).
These pillars are the foundation. Out of all the ways you can love yourself, I’ve found that these five categories have the biggest impact on our overall mental and physical well-being. In other words, the pillars are the self-care must-haves. You can always layer more on top, if you’d like. But as long as you’re engaging each of these pillars in your daily routine—your self-care will be well-supported.
Ready for some self-care success? Let’s explore each pillar now.
Pillar #1: A Healthy Diet (The Food You Eat is Key)
Is it any surprise that I’m starting with food? The produce aisle was my first stop after my cancer diagnosis, after all!
I will never forget the moment in my Healing Cancer World Summit interview with Dwight McKee, MD when he said, “Cooking is a survival skill.” Boom.
I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up this first pillar than those words. Knowing how to nourish our bodies is at the core of health and wellness. I’m not talking about deprivation and weight loss. I’m talking about respecting ourselves by bringing simple self-care to our plates. That looks like:
- Cooking and eating plenty of fresh foods—plant-based foods—and cutting out processed foods and meat (even if they’re grass fed meats).
- Reducing inflammation (gut health, anyone?) and increasing our joy in the kitchen.
- Savoring the flavors we love and trying new foods too—without compromising our health.
- And ultimately, accessing and trusting our own inner wisdom when it comes to the food we eat.
This may sound like a big transformation, but I promise that it’s easier and a lot more fun than you might think to focus on nutrition. It all starts with eating your veggies and shifting toward a more balanced diet. So just put one extra serving of veggies on your plate today (or in your glass, gorgeous!) and start overcoming nutritional gaps. See—simple!
Pillar #2: What You’re Drinking (Time to Hydrate)
I love having coffee a couple times a week and indulging in the occasional cocktail, but no drink gets me more excited than good old H2O (Well, green juice is a close second!).
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know how passionate I am about hydration. And it’s not just because I know how good I feel when I get enough water. Water consumption is essential for a healthy immune system.
Research shows that dehydration (especially if it’s chronic) can be a serious problem for your health. It can cause fever, low blood pressure, fatigue and even mess with the way your brain functions. And you can bet that stuff will stand in the way of the vibrant health and wellness you hope to create.
So pour yourself a big glass of self-care! To find out how much water you should drink per day, divide your body weight (in pounds) by two to get the approximate number of ounces you need. If you’re on the metric system, divide your weight in kilograms by 30 to determine how many liters you need.
Psst… here’s a pro tip to get you started on the path to better hydration: If you feel thirsty, chances are you’re already dehydrated. So let that be your cue to catch up. Keep sippin’ sweetheart!
Pillar #3: What You’re Thinking (Stress Reduction, Please)
Now that we’ve covered the first two pillars—what you’re eating and drinking—it’s time to talk soul stuff. Because at the end of the day, all the kale and water in the world won’t add up to our healing if we’re out of balance in other areas.
The thinking pillar is about mindfulness. It’s about improving your mental health. It’s about noticing your thoughts—especially the thoughts you have about yourself. It’s about letting go of judgment about your feelings (the good, the bad, and everything in between). And, perhaps most importantly, it’s about stress management, because that’s the number one catalyst for disease. If embracing a positive outlook can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, why wouldn’t you give it a shot?
Learning how to manage stress and be kinder to yourself is different for everyone. Meditation is my personal favorite. (In fact, I just created a new meditation for my Inner Circle Wellness family that’s all about shifting the way you think about your body—and celebrating its power instead of criticizing its flaws.) You can also soothe stress with tapping, yoga, mindful breaks and more. Try different options until you find a practice that works for you.
Remember: If you can change your mind, you can transform your life. Positive thinking will help you achieve leaps and bounds in your own health and wellness journey.
Pillar #4: How You’re Resting (The Health Benefits of Sleep)
The fourth pillar of wellness may sound like a snooze, but a good night’s sleep is just as critical to your overall well-being as the rest (heh… pun intended!).
I’ve written extensively about sleep because, while we all know it’s a vital part of self-care, many of us still struggle to get the recommended 7.5–8 hours per night. Here are some of the need-to-know details about poor sleep:
- An estimated 20-40 percent of adults aren’t getting enough sleep. In the United States alone, 70 million people suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.
- Getting sleep is necessary for everything from building your immunity and regulating your appetite, to cleaning out your brain’s waste products and saving your memories.
- Not all sleep is created equal—your bedtime routine and environment can have a huge impact on the quality of your rest.
- If you’re stressed, it can lead to elevated cortisol (a stress hormone), which can disrupt sleep—and lead to more stress.
- There’s more to rest than sleep. Taking time to re-energize while you’re awake is important, too.
The body’s ability to function requires sleep—that’s how important it is. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do (minimal effort required) to create healthy habits for sleep and improve brain function.
Pillar #5: How You’re Renewing (It’s Not Just Exercise…)
This last pillar is about movement, play, and connection. (Yup, having fun is part of the pillars!)
Let’s start with movement. According to the CDC, less than a quarter of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. I’m a firm believer that this isn’t because we lack understanding—we know about all the health benefits of physical activity (stress reduction, yes please!). It’s really because exercise has an image problem that we desperately need to clean up.
If you take nothing else away from this pillar, I hope you’ll remember this: Physical activity does not have to be a chore. Regular exercise should be something you actually enjoy doing. Yoga? Biking? Swimming? You have one beautiful body and the human body is made to move. Love yourself by exercising for a few minutes today.
Now let’s discuss play! When’s the last time you had a little fun, lovely? Allow yourself regular, unstructured free time to follow your whimsy. Enjoy a hobby, see great art, travel, connect with friends and fully recharge. Just because you’re a grown up, doesn’t mean you don’t need playdates. In fact, your soul comes alive through joy. So if you crave a well-lived life, make play a non-negotiable part of your self-care.
The final part of this pillar is connection. We need each other. We’re not meant to do life—or wellness—alone, sweetheart. Find yourself a wellness family that will offer you daily reminders to prioritize your self-care and the community you need to make it fun.
Let’s Build the Five Pillars of Wellness Together!
Self-care matters. It steadies you. It allows you to bring your best self to every part of your life. Your relationships, work, hobbies and health all see a boost when you take better care of YOU. And ya know what? You deserve that.
Spend just a few minutes a day on each of these five pillars. It’s the easiest way to support your well-being—and start feeling better fast!
Your turn: Which of the 5 pillars will you start with? Let me know in the comments below so we can support each other!
Peace & pillars of wellness,
P.S. Want to live a healthier life, but overwhelmed about where to start? Join my free workshop to discover 3 Secrets to Your Healthiest Year Yet: How to Keep It Simple, Stay Motivated and Finally Reach Your Goals! Click here to save your seat now.