Is Your Self-Care Practice 8-Dimensional?

8 Dimensions of Self-Care

The idea for an 8-dimensional self-care model came to me in the middle of the night. It was one of those vivid ideas that pops into your head when you least expect it – the kind that come when you’re in the shower and have nothing to write on.

As I stumbled out of bed into the darkness to sketch out the first draft, I envisioned a sphere-like structure where everything was interconnected. Each dimension was unique, but dependent on the health the others. As I sat back and looked at the circular diagram starting back at me, I felt a jolt of excitement. I knew I was on to something.

hand sketched model for Living Upp's self-care system

Self-Care is Multidimensional

For the last 17 years, I’ve worked in a variety of health care settings as a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, and what I know to be true is that optimal well-being involves more than just eating well and exercising. Much, much more, it turns out.

Read my article “Take {self} care: A multidimensional approach to health” in The Costco Connection for more on this multidimensional approach.

I also noticed that most people tend to invest all of their energy into just one or two categories. Maybe it’s physical activity or healthy eating or mindfulness that gets their full attention, while the other areas of their lives are snowballing into major sources of stress: unhealthy relationships, financial strain, a low sense of self-worth, unfulfilling careers, etc.

Those who are fortunate enough to recognize the imbalance early are more likely to avoid the costly health consequences that come with long-term self-neglect.

In my work as a self-care coach and designer, I help clients explore new ways to support themselves in each of these major life areas. Most of them come to me when they realize their current habits aren’t working for them anymore, and they’re ready for a lifestyle redesign that leaves them feeling stronger, more confident, and more fulfilled.

The whole of our health is much greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s where this 8-dimensional model comes in.

The 8 Dimensions of Self-Care8 Dimensions of Self-Care

Living Upp’s 8-dimensional model includes:

  • Systemic: How we eat, move and rest
  • Emotive: How we express ourselves
  • Luminescent: How we illuminate our inner truth
  • Financial: How we allocate our resources
  • Cognitive: How we think
  • Aptitudinal: How we contribute to the world
  • Relational: How we connect with others
  • Environmental: How we harmonize with nature

Note: The first letter of each dimension spells the word “SELF CARE.”

Read more about each of the 8 Dimensions in my book Uppward: A Self-Care System for Purposeful Living (Amazon Associate Link).

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Let me ask you this: What would your life be like if you were well-rested, nourished, physically fit, emotionally stable, self-confident, financially secure, optimistic, fulfilled in your career, surrounded by supportive relationships, and living in an environment that brings out the best in you?

What would your life be like if you were firing on all eight cylinders?

You’d be a force to be reckoned with, wouldn’t you? You’d have a lot more to give your family and community, wouldn’t you?

The Power of a Self-Care Plan

Self-care is the most powerful preventive health tool we have – some might even call it an act of civil disobedience. But quite honestly, we can’t afford not to make it a priority. Health care is expensive – from insurance premiums to deductibles to coinsurance to copays to out-of-pocket expenses (and that doesn’t even include the time we spend coordinating medical appointments and trying to make sense of our bills) – the system itself has become a bureaucratic nightmare.

The traditional health care model focuses primarily on the physical aspects of health – our nutritional status, fitness level, laboratory values, organ function, signs and symptoms of disease, and sometimes our mental and emotional health. But the problem with this narrow focus is that it fails to fully encompass the multidimensionality of wellness.

The good news is, no matter what you choose to include in your personal practice, the 8-dimensional model serves as a framework for designing a comprehensive plan to support all of the areas of your life that make you unique.

And it isn’t called a practice for nothing. Building a self-care plan takes time and a deliberate commitment to experimenting with new activities to determine what strengthens and nourishes you. But that’s also what makes it so fun.

So, will you continue to invest in just a few areas of your life, or are you ready to expand your practice to support yourself more fully?

How well are you supporting yourself today? Take the Rate Your 8 Assessment now.

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6 thoughts on “Is Your Self-Care Practice 8-Dimensional?

  1. Jessica Setnick says:

    Just posted your 8 dimensions of self-care model on LinkedIn with an intro. Have we ever met? Because we need to! Where are you located? Jessica Setnick

    • Stacy Fisher-Gunn
      Stacy Fisher-Gunn says:

      Hi Jessica! I’m honored that you took the time to leave a comment. You and I met once several years ago (2008-ish, I think) in Austin, TX when I attended your ED Boot Camp. You were touring with Molly Kellogg (and I still kick myself for not attending her portion of the program). I remember the room was packed and we didn’t have a chance to visit one-on-one. Please let me know if you’re ever in my neck of the woods (Seattle) as it would be great to catch up. This self-care model is so much fun! I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

  2. Kathryn Kelly says:

    This is a powerful guide from a RDN/CDE doing thoughtful behavior change work. What a great contribution, congratulations!

  3. Karin Hosenfeld says:

    Stacy, Great work! So proud of you and all you are accomplishing. You have amazing drive and clarity to share with all of us!

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