The 4 Pillars of Self-Care: The First Step Toward Great Mental Health

By Greta Dervishaj, Registered Psychotherapist at NKS Therapy

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We all know on some level how important self-care is to our overall well-being and mental health because of the pleasant benefits we experience from it: Feeling more relaxed, rejuvenated, and more motivated in life. But it is usually only when our schedule permits or when we feel we have “earned it” that we turn to nourishing ourselves. Being good to ourselves is an essential part of our daily routine, especially when we are experiencing high periods of stress. Unfortunately, it’s during times of distress when it is often the most difficult to do exactly that.

One of the most important first steps in any therapeutic relationship should be to promote the importance of establishing a solid self-care plan as part of a lifestyle. And one that you feel you deserve. It is one of the first steps we take to helping our clients begin their therapeutic journey at NKS Therapy. Looking after ourselves builds protective layers of resilience and strength for coping with stress, anxiety, and life’s inevitable challenges. We take good care of what we value in life: Children, spouses, our home, a special article of clothing we own. The same is true in reverse: We value what we take good care of. So behaviours that amount to taking good care of ourselves…allow us to improve how much we value ourselves. When we value ourselves, all steps toward creating good mental health and a life you enjoy become easier, because you truly believe you deserve that.

To make self-love and self-care a habit, we must approach self-care as a lifestyle change. There is no end goal; it is a life-long process. If we can reframe the way we think about self-care and consistently bring into our daily routines, we can all attain this lifestyle.

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So, what does self-care actually look like? There are literally countless ways to show yourself love and appreciation. Here are the main 4 types of self-care with a number of suggestions for small but powerful ways to begin directing more loving attention to yourself: 

1. Physical Self-Care:

This entails the big 3: Diet, Exercise, and Sleep. Start by eating healthy and whole foods, exercise daily, wear clothing that feels good and suits you, keep your living and working environments clean, organized, comfy and cozy, be consistent with your sleep routine and get adequate rest each night.

2. Psychological/Emotional Self-Care:

Participate actively in hobbies that bring you pleasure, give yourself time off from distracting devices, recognize your strengths, achievements, and positive qualities through daily self-affirmations, and learn to acknowledge and express your feelings in healthy ways.

3. Social Self-Care:

Spend quality time with people you love and care about regularly, meet new people, reach out and keep in touch with old friends, engage and connect with your community, set limits and advocate for yourself in relationships with others.

4. Spiritual Self-Care:

This involves connecting with yourself on a higher and deeper level, and can involve activities such as meditation, prayer, spending time in nature, or simply setting aside “you-time” for thoughtful reflection.

At NKS Therapy, we are here to help. If you need more support in developing a sense of self-value and self-care, or are looking to address your wellbeing in other ways, our caring therapists are here to support you. Reach out to us at, by phone at 416-745-4745, or book an appointment online.

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