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  • Sarah Rossmiller LPC

Layers of Self-Care: A Guide to Nourishing Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Updated: Jan 31

Self-care has become a prevalent buzzword in the health and wellness community, and amidst the hype, there's often confusion about what it truly entails and how to effectively practice it. Let's dive in to clarify this vital aspect of well-being.

Understanding the Essence of Self-Care

Firstly, let's debunk the myth that self-care is selfish. Quite the opposite – genuine self-care is about meeting your own needs in a way that not only fulfills you but also empowers you to extend compassion, time, and focus to the people and things that matter most in your life. Think of it as filling your own pitcher first, so you have the reserves to fill all the cups in your life, be it family, friends, work, hobbies, or personal projects.

Remember, self-care habits are rooted in self-discipline, requiring us to engage in practices even when our motivation wavers. It's on the days when we lack the desire to connect with ourselves, feel unmotivated or drained of energy, and grapple with a sense of purposelessness that self-care becomes paramount. Despite the initial lack of fulfillment, engaging in these habits is an investment in our mental health, a vital means of staying afloat amidst life's challenges.

Levels of Self-Care

Self-care operates on different levels – foundational, recreational, and higher-consciousness.

1. Foundational Self-Care: This level focuses on meeting your basic needs, including sufficient sleep, proper nutrition, medication adherence, physical activity, and maintaining overall health. Neglecting foundational self-care can hinder your ability to manage your mood, relationships, and daily tasks effectively.

2. Recreational Self-Care: This level fosters a sense of belonging, connection, relaxation, leisure, and self-love. It involves activities that bring relaxation and comfort, such as massages, hot baths, or social leisure like sharing a meal with friends. This type of self-care sits between fulfilling basic needs and addressing higher-level growth needs.

3. Higher-Consciousness Self-Care: This level caters to the need for connection with something beyond oneself, whether spiritual, intellectual, or purpose-driven. It involves personal growth through learning, creativity, expanding skills, convening with nature, and connecting with values that guide your actions.

Crafting Your Personalized Self-Care Routine

A helpful rule of thumb is to establish a routine that includes at least one daily, weekly, and occasional self-care activity. The key is to choose activities that align with your current needs and goals, ensuring they are meaningful, manageable, and mindful. Avoid turning self-care into another checklist; it should be a heartfelt practice that keeps you connected to what matters most. If it begins to feel mindless, it may be time to switch it up.

Sample Self-Care Ideas


  • Writing (journaling, poetry, blogging)

  • Reading (self-help books, spiritual texts)

  • Gratitude exercises

  • Preparing a healthy meal

  • Making a meaningful connection with another living being

  • Savoring a cup of tea or coffee

  • Aromatherapy

  • Mindfully washing your hands in warm water

  • Stretching or yoga


  • Mindful movement, such as yoga

  • Fun, energized movement, such as dancing

  • Taking a walk, bike ride, or hiking

  • Gardening

  • Creative pursuits such as drawing, painting, or sculpting

  • Social outings or community gatherings

  • Small acts of kindness for others

  • Relaxing bath with mood lighting and music

  • Talking to a friend, checking in

  • Going to therapy


  • Hosting a social event

  • Taking a trip

  • Trying a new hobby

  • Stepping out of your comfort zone

  • Planning an adventure

  • Volunteering

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. What are your ideas? I'd love to hear them! Self-care is a personal journey, and your routine should reflect what is reasonable given your current circumstances and state of mind as well as what brings genuine fulfillment to your mind, body, and soul.

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