Four Pillars of Self-Care | Center for Sport Psychology and Athlete Mental Health
April 7, 2020

Four Pillars of Self-Care

We are living in stressful and uncertain times…new demands, new situations, and new emotions, such as fear or grief. Yet, with a solid foundation of health, we will be better able to cope and function, perform and even thrive in this new "normal." This foundation is based on four key pillars: 1) nutrition; 2) sleep hygiene; 3) social support; and 4) physical activity. Think of these like the legs of a table--if even one of the legs is shorter than the others, or nonexistent altogether, then the foundation becomes shaky and unstable. When that happens, our psychological well-being, and our ability to function at our best, can be compromised. Here's how you can assess the stability of your table:

  • Are you maintaining a healthy eating plan that balances nutrient-dense foods with the energy demands of your current life?
  • Are you practicing good and consistent sleep habits to ensure you're getting quality sleep (e.g., same bedtime/wake time, reducing screen exposure before bed, etc.)? This brief assessment can help you figure it out:
  • Are you staying connected to those who hold meaning in your life? Or do you find yourself pulling away and isolating? When was the last time you reached out to a friend, family member, or loved one just to talk and connect?
  • Are you continuing to be physically active, perhaps training for your sport in socially distant ways as best you can? If not, think about how you can start (or restart) your exercise routine.

We've discussed previously three of these pillars and pulling them together here helps us see how interconnected they are and how fundamental they are to our well-being. As you consider each question above, think about what is under your control and what you can be doing differently if you find your answers do not represent how you really want to be.

As you strive for a balanced foundation, remember our tip on self-compassion…finding such balance can take time to achieve, so be kind to yourself as you work to make positive changes in your life.