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Self-Care 101

If your body is a cup, how do you empty the stress that builds up?

Think of your body as a cup. When you experience stress, that cup fills up over time. The things that may cause your cup to fill up can be stressful situations like losing a loved one or a breakup. There are also what we call “everyday stressors” – these may be things like school assignments, relationship conflicts, and any responsibilities you may have, such as caring for younger siblings, extracurricular activities, or a part-time job.

When your cup gets full, it may begin to overflow and you might feel overwhelmed. The term “self-care” describes the things people do to empty their cups and prevent them from overflowing. It includes making sure to eat nutritious food, getting enough good quality sleep, and getting regular exercise. Sometimes, though, just taking care of your body may not be enough – self-care also means taking care of your mind. 

In fact, there are six key dimensions to self-care including:

1. Physical 4. Environmental
2. Mental 5. Social
3. Emotional 6. Spiritual

That may seem like a lot of work – six whole dimensions and I have to care for all of them? Well, you don’t HAVE to, but effective self-care will address each of these dimensions. Don’t stress out just yet – you don’t need to spend hours every day doing self-care. Many activities can be done in as little as 5 minutes. 

  • Physical: take a bath
  • Mental: cross something off your to-do list
  • Emotional: practice self-compassion and don’t ignore your feelings
  • Environmental: limit your time on technology
  • Social: keep your promises/commitments to other people
  • Spiritual: practice gratitude and look for good in the world, yourself and others


The most important part of self-care is knowing what self-care strategies and coping skills work best for you, and knowing when to use them. You can learn about coping skills at How to Build Your Coping Skills Toolbox

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