Kris Carr


The 5 Pillars of Wellness: How to Create an Easy, Effective Wellness Routine

Hiya Gorgeous!

I was filling out my weekly wellness tracker the other day. As I tallied up my totals at the end of the week, I realized that my hydration game had been slipping.

Get your FREE Tracker here!

I was a couple of glasses below where I’d like to be each day. But why? That’s when I realized that after washing out my big water bottle at the beginning of the week, I’d forgotten to put it back on my desk and had therefore gotten out of the rhythm of filling it up each morning with the water I’d need for the day. So I scooted on over to the kitchen and filled that bad boy right up. 

Bam! In less than a minute, I’d set myself up to get back on track with one of my body’s most fundamental needs.

That’s the power of using a health tracker on a regular basis. It helps us spot gaps in our foundational health habits and, in turn, build a simple wellness routine we can actually stick to. 

But which habits are worth tracking? There are SO many things we could pay attention to in wellness. Which are the highest leverage routines where small changes will add up to big results? 
That’s the question that inspired me when I created the custom Wellness Tracker in my Results Journal. I used my 5 Pillars of Wellness as the foundation. It’s the system I developed from close to 20 years of research and practice with some of the best experts and doctors in the world. Here’s a snippet from a recent coaching in my Inner Circle Wellness community. In it, I’ll give you a rundown on what the 5 Pillars of Wellness are and how to use them to optimize your health and wellbeing. Grab your free Wellness Tracker and then hit play for all the details!

Let’s Review the 5 Pillars of Wellness

Read the transcript here…

Kris Carr: Caring for the Pillars is how you become what I called an empowered participant in your health and in your healing. Right? All we need to do is participate, and it takes a thimble size amount of self-care to start filling your wells.

Let’s review some simple ways to do that. We’re going to do an overview of the pillars right now and how to use them. Pillar #1: What you’re eating. Now despite all the conflicting information on nutrition and year after year it gets more confusing (or is that just me?). Despite all of that, the fads, the trends, the latest hacks and attacks on ourselves, there’s one consensus: Plants are really good for you. They are filled with vitamins and minerals and enzymes and antioxidants and phytochemicals and fiber to keep the trains moving on time, to keep our gut health nice and strong and healthy, and other important stuff that’s going to help your body function well, and it’s going to help your body be resilient. But here’s the situation: fewer than 10% of adults are getting their recommended daily allowance. That’s the truth!

So let’s talk about a sneaky way to change that because I love to be sneaky. You have likely heard me say this before, but it sure bears repeating: add before you subtract. This is one of my most favorite tips. I share this a little bit in one section of my new book, and I remember when my editor read it, she said, “That’s genius. Because I’m always worried about deprivation and I always get my own way, and that’s like the best brain-hack I’ve ever read.” So add before you subtract. Instead of stressing yourself out about what you can and what you can have, and being really tough on yourself—because we know that doesn’t work—we want to try a kinder approach. The more healthy stuff you add, the more crap or stuff that isn’t serving you that you begin to crowd out. So on your plate, what does that look like? It looks like fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy protein sources, good fats. That could be adding at least one vegetable at every meal, starting today. It could be making a smoothie for breakfast and making sure that you add a handful of greens to your favorite fruits. Of course you have lots of recipes in ICW, but smoothies are so easy you can just whip up one, you don’t have to follow a recipe. See what’s in your fridge and go from there, right? But you’re adding that smoothie to your daily routine. You’re adding a side salad to your lunch, right? It’s easy when you’re having a sandwich to be like, oh, I have the chips. Instead, you’re going to say, oh, you know what? I have to add fruits and veggies to my meals each day, I want to try to add vegetables to every meal, actually, so I am going to add the side salad. And even if you have the chips, maybe you just have a couple of them instead of the whole bag, right? So you want to heap on those greens at dinner. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to make something fancy. You’ve got your dinner and you know what you say, I’ve got nothing green here. So you see you’ve got some spinach, you sauté it—BOOM. I’ve just added goodness to my life and so forth.

The bottom line is just to really (whether we like it or not), follow our mother’s advice: Eat your vegetables.

Pillar #2: what you’re drinking. So this is all about hydration, my friends. Because here’s why, when you’re dehydrated your body doesn’t function well. You can’t properly metabolize carbs and protein proteins. And it’s hard to flush out waste products. And you can suffer from shit like headaches and joint aches and brain fog and low blood pressure and fatigue and on and on and on. And we think, what’s the matter with me? Why am I so tired? Why? Why do I feel so off? And then we might think, well, maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that, maybe it’s the other thing. And sometimes we forget to just drink water. Drinking enough water will not only help you feel better, but it is also essential for a strong immune system.

Now, continuing on our theme of adding before you subtract, I’m not going to tell you to cut out things like coffee. I’m not going to tell you to cut out the soda. I’m not going to tell you to cut out the sports drinks right now, okay? I’m not going to say that. Instead, I want to encourage you to up your water intake. Right? You’re adding you’re going to crowd out what doesn’t serve you. And to figure out how much water you need, you’re going to divide your body weight in pounds by two to get the approximate amount of water in ounces that you should likely drink per day. Now, this is an inexact science, but that’s one way to calculate. And if you’re using the metric scale, divide your weight in kilograms by 30 to determine how many liters of water you need.

The water content from your fruits. The water content from your veggies that all counts towards your daily intake. I love to count herbal tea towards your daily intake. That’s great! I don’t count coffee towards your daily intake or black tea towards your daily intake because that’s also dehydrating, right? A lot of the other things do count though. But don’t worry about trying to calculate it, right. Our bodies did not come with owner’s manuals. Our bodies did not come with calculators. Our bodies did not come with charts. Just do your best. Are you feeling thirsty? That likely means you’re dehydrated. You do the skin test: you just put your hand like this; you’re going to pull up, make a little tent; you want that skin to go down rather quickly. If it takes a while to go back down and doesn’t bounce right back might mean you’re a little dehydrated. Another great way is to just look in the toilet when you pee. What’s the color of the pee? It should be a light yellow. If it looks like a brown amber ale, there are some issues going on, but the point is probably dehydrated. (If it’s a brown amber ale, you might want to go to the doctor.) Also, some medical conditions do require fluid restriction, so I just want to put that out there. As always, you kind of do your research here. But the overall point is check yourself. Are you drinking enough water? If you aren’t. Put your attention on that and trust me, you will start to feel a difference.

Pillar #3: What you’re thinking. This is about stress reduction. This is about being good to yourself. This is about learning to care for yourself. Love yourself. Be your own best friend. Have your own back. This is really what this pillar is about. So all the kale and all of the water and all of the good practices, none of that is going to do diddly squat if we are tormenting ourselves, if we are snorting lines of stress. So you see that common theme here, that’s why it’s the foundation, is stress management. Stress is a huge strain on your inner ecosystem. When you feel anxious about your circumstances and especially those circumstances are beyond your control, or if you find yourself caught up in negative self-talk (which we all do), we do this, right? But it’s important to acknowledge your feelings at the time, and then to ground yourself, to notice, to be aware. Say, up! I’m being tough on myself, I’m feeling really anxious, feeling very out of sorts. Okay, I’ve got that awareness. Now what? That’s why the thinking pillar is all about supporting your mental health.

I’m going to explore three simple practices to help you restore that inner calm. And we’ve got so many practices in ICW in previous coachings, so these are just a few, but know that there’s a lot more there for you. Okay. So the first one is to start your day with thank you. Oh… How we start our day sets the tone for how we’ll end our day. What if you just took the first few moments when you wake up, the time that bridges your dream state with your conscious mind, and you just said, “thank you”? Thank you, body. Thank you, spirit. Thank you, creator. Whatever feels right for you. Whatever that is for you. Right, thank you. Thanks for another day, dear body. I am blessed. I am blessed. Even me just sharing that with you right now. I feel a shift in my body. And partly because it’s so natural to focus on all the things that aren’t right, the things that aren’t working, all the stuff you have to do, the stuff that you haven’t gotten to. And of course, that creates like this ongoing anxiety inside of us. But if we can just stop for a minute and we can just ground ourselves in gratitude, it brings us back to the present moment, and it reminds us of what’s still really good in our lives. And guess what? No matter who you are, no matter where you came from, there is plenty of good in your life. And there’s plenty of good in my life. But in order to really believe that, and to see that, we have to open our eyes to it, and pay some attention to it, and remind ourselves of it.

So starting today at the day with thank you. Another one is choosing a kinder thought. We talked about this a little bit earlier, but your mindset fuels your mental health. It’s like the gas in your tank. And it also fuels your motivation and it keeps you moving towards your goals. When you’re being really tough on yourself, do you feel inspired? I don’t. I’m like, what’s the point? Oh my gosh, I don’t feel excited about moving forward, right? And well, here’s the thing. You and I, we may not be able to choose our first thought, right? But you know what we can choose? We can choose the one that comes after that. In other words, when you’re talking trash to yourself about yourself, pause. Stop. Notice. Send those thoughts love. Because those thoughts are likely old, those thoughts are likely hurting, those thoughts are part of ourselves that are stuck, they feel wounded—pause. Send those thoughts, love, and then turn the beat around. Grab that moment, really, grab it. Don’t let it just run rampant. Right? Then you’re saying all these shitty things all to yourself throughout the day. It’s like you’re taking a crap in your head all over the place. Grab that moment and intentionally choose a kinder thought. You might find yourself saying something like, oops, here I am, I see this. Let me stop because I know that this thought doesn’t support my health or my highest good. And then you’re going to choose another thought, right? What does? What thought would?

If you’re struggling to find a kinder thought because you’re feeling really crappy about yourself (and this happens to all of us), I want you to ask yourself a few questions. Okay, I’m having a hard time figuring out what’s a better thought because I feel really crappy about myself right now. What if the opposite were true? What if the opposite of what I’m saying about myself right now were true? And what is that opposite? And can we take that for a spin? And if we don’t believe it right now, can we just stay open to believing in the future? Whatever it takes to trick your mind into being good to yourself. Another thing you might say is what would a loving person say? If I can’t say this for myself, can I imagine what a loving person would say? And can I try that on? Or what would my best friend say? Or what would I say to my best friend? Whatever you need to do to get those good words flowing and start to feel the benefit of that love towards yourself. Sometimes we gotta ask ourselves questions. We got to trick ourselves to get ourselves back in the place of fully alive, fully empowered, fully loving, healing thinking.

Lastly, go inward. We’re talking about starting with thank you. We just talked about choosing a kinder thought when we find ourselves in a negative thought spiral. And third, going inward. So by this I mean breathwork, meditation, practices that help you pause, ground yourself and come back to the present moment. Now, lucky you, you’ve got over 60 meditations and counting because we release new meditations all the time in the ICW library. And the goal of these, again, is to help anchor you in the present moment. That’s why I keep them short. They’re short. They’re empowering. And you know what else they are? They are infused with my love for you. When I write those meditations and then record those meditations as I’m doing both of those things, I am sending you love. I am baking that love into those words and onto those recordings. I hope you feel that. So go ahead and check them out.

Okay. We are rounding the corner on the pillars.

PIllar #4: How you’re resting. Let’s talk about more statistics whenever I read this stuff, it really inspires me to continue doing the work that I’m doing because I want to change these things. I want to change them for myself. I want to change them for you, and I want to change them for people I don’t even know yet. So in America alone, 70 million people suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. Remember, pillar four is the resting pillar. So either folks aren’t getting enough sleep, or they’re staying up too late, or they’re getting up too early, or their sleep is just so restless that when they do wake up, they still feel really exhausted. So we all know that not getting enough sleep negatively impacts our mental and physical health. But what can we do about it?

Lots of tips at I have many articles on sleep, I’ve done sleep roundups that put together all those articles in one place, so you can definitely check that out, and also in your ICW library. But I want to remind you of my favorite tip, and I share this in our energy bootcamp, which we often do once or twice a year. If you haven’t done our Get Your Energy Back Bootcamp, the next time it comes out, make sure you jump on it. My favorite tip is this: tuck yourself in like a toddler. What? So I want you to picture this with me. If you had a feisty four year old, and some of you do, who needed to be asleep by, let’s say, 8 p.m., what time would you start getting your fiesty 4 year old ready for bed? I’m gonna say that it’s probably not 7:59, right? How’s that gonna go? It ain’t gonna go. Well, there would be maybe a soothing bath. Soft PJs. Maybe a bedtime story, maybe a nighttime prayer. And definitely a kiss. Right? So I want you to consider taking a cue from the toddler plan. So if you want to be asleep by, let’s say 11 p.m., to get your 7-8 hours of shut eye, then you’re going to want to create a peaceful routine to help line down and to ease yourself into rest. So you’re gonna want to do things like plan to be in bed with your whole routine, your teeth brushing, doing your face washing and moisturizing and taking your vitamins—whatever it is—your whole routine done at least 15 to 20 minutes before you’d like to be asleep. It’s that simple. And of course, there’s lots of sleep hygiene practices. And again, you can find those at or in our ICW community, but if you take one thing for the resting pillar tonight, after you watch this coaching, say to yourself, how am I going to tuck myself in like a toddler tonight? And then let me know in the community if you had a better night’s sleep, and my bet is that you will.

Pillar #5: here we are, my friends, the last pillar: How you’re renewing. So this pillar has two parts. It’s the only one with two parts, and it’s movement and play. And that is because the pillars have to be fun, right? So you got to add that play in there. We all know that we need to move our bodies, but few of us know that play is essential for our well-being.

Let’s start with exercise, more statistics. So 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. Now, I am a firm believer that this isn’t a result of a lack of understanding. We know we need to move. We know the benefits of movement and so forth. It’s really because exercise, in my opinion, has an image problem that desperately needs a makeover. So if you take nothing away from this pillar, no, nothing else away rather, I hope you’ll remember this: exercise does not have to be painful. It does not have to be punishing. It does not have to be boring. It does not have to be out of reach. It does not have to be something that’s just safe for people who are in shape and the healthy ones, and so forth. Exercise is something that you actually enjoy doing that your body can do. Staying active is exercise, right? If you think to yourself, I don’t really love movement or I don’t spend the time, I don’t put the time aside to do it and whatnot, maybe you’re setting the bar too high. Maybe it’s if I don’t do 75 minutes or if I don’t do that, you know, really high intensity aerobics class then it doesn’t count. So you’re setting the bar so high that a ten minute brisk walk isn’t good enough, when it is, right? So we’re gonna talk about this in a minute, but I would just want to throw out that example to you, because walking up the stairs, before doing this coaching, I sprinted up the stairs. That’s exercise. Gets the blood flowing, helps me, you know, get ready and be in my body for this coaching. It could be dance, yoga, hiking. Those are the things that I love to do. But whatever works for you. And the point is, again, that it shouldn’t feel like punishment. Okay, so I want you to remember. Keep in mind that being active counts two. So take those stairs. You can walk up them. You can run up them. Park further away from the store. Help yourself. Move. Set yourself up for success. Do you have a really difficult time moving? Chair. Are you sitting in your chair and stretching? Are you sitting in your chair and using 1 pound weights? Right. So let’s again continue to get sneaky about all this stuff.

And last but not least of the pillars: play. Play. Play. The really fun part of the renewing pillar is allowing ourself regular, unstructured, free time to follow our joy, our whimsy, our curiosity, to enjoy a hobby, to see great art, to travel, to connect with friends, and to fully recharge. There’s nothing that fuels the creative well, like play, like free time, like discovering new things! Just because that you and I are grown ups doesn’t mean that we don’t need playdates. We need playdates! The world is a very serious place. Without playdates, how are we going to survive it? I don’t know. In fact, not only does your soul come alive through joy, the joy that comes from that play. Joy is the medicine. It’s the antidote to stress. So if you crave a well lived life full of fun and beautiful memories, I want to encourage us both to make play a non-negotiable part of your regular schedule. Is that once a week that you put time aside for a playdate, whatever it looks like for you. But you know what I like to say: if it isn’t scheduled, it probably won’t happen. We schedule everything else, put the dentist appointment in there, got to go to the gyno. But we’re not scheduling our play. And guess what happens? It doesn’t happen.

Here’s what you’ll discover:

1.  How to make healthy eating feel easy.

No deprivation, counting calories or shame — just abundance and ease.

2.  Three ways to soothe your stress.

And make your mind a happier, more peaceful place you actually want to be.

3.   Why exercise may be the hardest wellness habit for you to stick.

Plus my counterintuitive strategy to reach bigger milestones with your movement routine.

4.  My top tip for getting a better night’s sleep. 

Plus the one sneaky habit that may be sapping your energy. (Psst: It has nothing to do with sleep!)

5.  Why fun should be a non-negotiable part of your wellness routine.

And how to protect space for joy and play in your schedule.

Now it’s your turn. What pillar do you want to focus on this month? Let’s share our intentions in the comments.


Add a comment
  1. Kristin says:

    You’re seriously the BEST.
    Thank you <3

  2. harriet dee goshen says:

    j like listening to you because wellness is top
    thing in your life. me too. thanks

  3. Elle says:

    Thank you for your inspiring video. I watched the free boot camp about 4 years ago and took notes of all the pillars. Especially adding before you subtract, making time for movement and play, were things I really started to do and keep doing. I drop in on your you tube videos when I’m missing my sister cos I live abroad so I really appreciate your wholehearted and sweet teaching style.

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