Self-Care and the Eight Pillars of Wellness

2020’s been a big year. We got married, moved to the Mornington Peninsula, got a dog (Lazlo), a warehouse space, phased out of our old work, and started Seek Solitude. 

These were all significant and exciting changes propelling us towards a more fulfilling future. And yet with the undertone of COVID-19 and relentless lockdowns we felt exhausted, depleted and monotonous — feelings experienced by many —  despite all the positive changes and good fortune of our health and security.

What ensued over the year was a change in lifestyle: the avid consumption of television, news and social media to numb the boredom of lockdown... The waning of routines like yoga, walking, or the gym (we found ourselves leaving online classes 15 minutes in because of ‘all the things we had to do’)... A carelessness about the food we ate or where it was sourced because options were limited within our 5km radius.

So truth be told it felt ironic that we were launching an online wellness store at a time when our own self-care practices had become virtually non-existent.

Woman in grass connecting with nature as part of self-care routine

In hindsight mindfulness practices and a self-care routine would have gone a long way to soothe the soul and nourish the body during these vulnerable months and the depths of winter, but as we all know finding rhythm, routine or a sense of commitment can be difficult at the best of times.

As we continue to build the company we ourselves have found renewed motivation and excitement for the many self-care products we have in stock and development, and the incredible companies we have on our store. Seeing Earthly Origins (where we source our amazing masala chai) sharing their summer solstice reminded us to connect with nature, and words on ritual from Stass & Co (with their dry body brushes) highlighted how we’d lost sight of our own routines and rekindled a desire for balance, rhythm and flow. 

So, as we unfurl from lockdown and plan to start the new year afresh we thought it was apt for our first and last blog of 2020 to explore the topic of self-care: what it is, examples of self-care routines and some of our favourite wellness resources. We hope that it inspires a new tone for 2021 especially if, like us, you’ve reached the end of this year feeling weary and worn out. 

What is self-care?

Self-care encompasses any activities undertaken to care for our mental, physical and emotional health. How you practice self-care is entirely individual and should not feel forced or depleting. Ben, for example, gets a clarity and energy after a run. I on the other hand find feel refuelled by passive activities like a long bath, yoga or walk in nature. 

Why is self-care important?

Self-care practices or routines will over time alleviate stress and anxiety, and enhance our energy and resilience for the demands of daily life. Self-care is not a bandaid fix, but rather incremental and regular actions that will tend to, nourish and bolster your physical, mental or emotional health. 

Woman connecting with nature and ocean for self-care

The eight dimensions of wellness 

There are considered to be 8 dimensions of wellness (though this number varies by source). This includes social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial and occupational wellness: all aspects of life that when balanced will culminate in a holistic sense of wellness. 

Stoewen writes ‘wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit. Although it always includes striving for health, it’s more about living life fully.’

With the 8 dimensions of wellness as a framework, we’ve provided examples of self-care practices for each aspect of wellness. You may have one dimension that could use attention, or multiple, so take what resonates with you. 

We’re far from the exemplar of holistic wellness, so Ben and I both will be implementing some of these tips over the coming months to see what works for us… 

If you have any routines or practices that you’d like to share leave a comment below or connect with us at @seeksolitude.

Social wellness

Contribution to your community. Maintaining healthy relationships and boundaries with friends and intimate others. 

Examples of self-care activities for social wellness: 

  • A low-key evening in, cooking and savouring dinner with your friend / partner 
  • Joining a community group or attending gatherings for something you are interested in (e.g. yoga on the beach)
  • Helping out the community in a way that is congruent with your values (e.g. picking up rubbish on the beach, volunteering for an organisation)
Emotional wellness

Self-awareness of your feelings, values and attitudes. Constructive management of emotions. Empathy for the feelings of others.

Examples of self-care activities for emotional wellness: 

  • Reflective journaling 
  • Practicing gratitude (e.g. think of three things you are grateful for each day)
  • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and regular sleeping schedules 
  • Try specially made tinctures or herbal medicines like Rose Coloured Glasses by Wooden Spoon herbs to lift your mood, open your heart, and enhance your intuition

Bathing in the ocean for calm, relaxation and wellness

Spiritual wellness

Find a sense of purpose or meaning (not necessarily affiliated organised religion).

Examples of self-care activities for spiritual wellness: 

  • Meditation practices 
  • Time in nature (forest bathing ‘shinrin-yoku’, swimming in the ocean, gazing at the night sky) to reconnect with nature / the world around us 
  • Learn more about the benefits of meditation and time in nature in this great article, Healing & Preventing Burnout, by the Women’s Wellness Collective
Intellectual wellness

Continue to grow and challenge yourself intellectually, even outside of formal education.
Commit to lifelong learning to expand knowledge and skills. 

Examples of self-care activities for intellectual wellness: 

  • Attend a workshop or seminar on something you’re interested in professionally or personally 
  • Consume content that enriches your mind and broaches new topics
  • Discover tools that support and promote lifelong learning, reflection and the expansion of knowledge (we're using myhaven for this to store resources and ideas as they arise so we can ruminate and revisit over time)
Physical wellness

Care for your body through movement and whole foods for present and future health. 

Examples of self-care activities for physical wellness: 

  • Move often (walk, jog, yoga, swim, gym… whatever you enjoy most) 
  • Eat a natural, balanced diet with emphasis on plants
  • Seek professional guidance for any issues (we recommend Melbourne-based naturopath Karen Saunders who focused on hormonal and digestive issues)

Person walking on the beach as part of daily self-care and wellness routine

Environmental wellness

Create your physical environments (e.g. home and work) for health and wellbeing.
Living sustainably and sensitively to minimise impact on the planet.

Examples of self-care activities for environmental wellness: 

  • Reduce clutter and live simply 
  • Fill your space with indoor plants to purify the air and pure essential oils or incense for aromatherapy  
  • Minimise single use plastics by buying from bulk food stores or purchasing produce from your local grocers / farmers market 
  • Recycle 
  • Consume less meat 
  • See 100+ more tips for a sustainable lifestyle here
Financial wellness

Manage resources to live within your means. 
Acknowledge without judgement that everyone’s financial circumstances and values.

Examples of self-care activities for financial wellness: 

  • Avoid comparison with others 
  • Create a realistic budget 
  • Try to save incrementally (even if it’s small amounts)  
  • Seek financial advice if the impact of financial stress is affecting your physical, mental or emotional health
  • Discover more actions for financial wellbeing here
Occupational wellness

Participating in work that is congruent with your values, professional objectives and lifestyle. 
Working where you feel challenged, rewarded, impactful.

Examples of self-care activities for occupational wellness: 

  • Find work/life balance (e.g if you can’t avoid long hours, commit to a weekend or one day a week without emails) 
  • Use task, time or project management tools to plan and manage time
  • Don’t delegate an unreasonable amount of tasks for any given day
  • Avoid multitasking and instead aim for deep work 
  • Take a break away from the screen for lunch