Reimagining The Self-Care Wheel

Your personalized map to holistic health and happiness

Are you tired of feeling like you “should” do more self-care, but it just doesn’t seem to fit with the daily demands of your life? Or, maybe you’re having a tough time prioritizing your own health? 

You’re not alone, and I’m really excited to introduce a brand new tool to make it simple and easy to actually focus on yourself.

In this post, you’re going to learn about a tried-and-true self-care tool, the Self-Care Wheel. It’s a wonderful, free resource to help you act on the different types of self-care. It also has a few limitations, which I’ll get to. 

Effective self-care must be personal and prioritized, and I’m going to show you exactly how to do that.

personalize your wellness: the self care wheel with an image of a planner open with self care letters

Defining self-care

Self-care is the deliberate and intentional actions you take to maintain and improve your overall well-being. It’s not just about getting a manicure or taking a bubble bath, but about taking care of all aspects of yourself. 

Self-care is important because it can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost energy levels. It can also prevent burnout, benefit mental health, and improve relationships. 

Additionally, self-care is one of the few things we can control on a daily basis, making it easier to deal with life’s challenges. When you take intentional and consistent steps to prioritize your health and wellness, you’re practicing self-care. 

Different types of self-care are necessary because wellness is complex and requires different approaches. It’s a personal journey that takes work and consistent practice to achieve.

The six types of self-care are

  • Physical (for your body)
  • Emotional (for your feelings)
  • Intellectual (for your mind)
  • Occupational (for your work)
  • Social (for your connections)
  • Spiritual (for your soul)

The Self-Care Wheel

Olga Phoenix created a self-care resource, The Self-Care Wheel in 2013, as a model that shows how self-care is a “basic core component of our lives.” It’s an easily accessible, simple tool that shows how different aspects of our well-being are essential and connected. 

It’s widely used and adapted, and I even remember using this tool (or possibly a similar one) in the required personal health and wellness class in my freshman year of college, and then again as part of my master’s degree studies a few years ago.

The wheel is divided into six categories: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional. You can assess/estimate where you’re at in each one on a scale of 1-10. 

Each category is then shaded in to create a powerful visual that shows both how the different elements are connected and also where your strengths and weaknesses lie. 

Her wheel also includes a comprehensive list of self-care ideas for each category, so that you’re able to take action to have a “healthy, content, balanced, and meaningful life.”

Reimagining The Self-Care Wheel

The Self-Care Wheel is a well-known resource for good reasons. It is:

  • Holistic – it addresses all aspects of well-being
  • Evidence-based – developed with inspiration from the Wheel of Wellness
  • Comprehensive – includes a personalized assessment and list of ideas
  • Simple – the wheel is simple to use and understand
  • Accessible – it’s free and could easily be customized
  • Visual – great for those who learn with graphics and images

However, I have two main criticisms of the free tool. It’s not individualized and it does not account for personal preferences and priorities. In the Self-Care Wheel, each section is equal, which isn’t likely the case for most people. 

Dynamic self-care

Self-care can sometimes feel like a long, overwhelming list of something we “need to do,” rather than something that is personal and valued. Self-care is what allows us to live out our personal values and goals, so it should be aligned with that. 

When working with clients, one of the first things I have them do is list out their goals and prioritize them. Behavior change is hard, and it can help to start with things that are either most needed or most important. 

During different times throughout our lives, different things are going to be more important, relevant, and doable. Drinking more water won’t solve the burnout you’re feeling at work. 

If we’re going to model self-care, it needs to be an adaptable map to holistic happiness and health. 

So… I introduce to you my work in progress: The Self-Care Web

Self care web with a radar map of six different types of self care

From Wheel to Web

Before we get into the details of the self-care Web, let’s take a minute to think about why a web might be a better fit than a wheel. 

Without the different “spokes” being even, a wheel won’t work or spin. It would be a pretty bumpy ride on most people’s wellness wheels if we were honest about how we’re really doing to take care of all aspects of ourselves. 

By visualizing our personal wellness and self-care as a web, we’re not doomed if things aren’t ideal or even. We have space to celebrate what is working and room to improve where we’d like to. 

Additionally, the web shows how the different elements of well-being are interdependent and connected. They each rely on and are impacted by the others. In nature, webs are delicate, intricate, and complex… just like our personal health and wellness. 

The Self-Care Web

Self care web with a radar map of six different types of self care

The Self-Care Web is an individualized way to visualize both your priorities and habits in one place. The darker line represents how important each type of self-care is to you, and the orange line represents how you rate your current state/choices/actions for each. 

Points closer to the center show low ratings, whereas those closer to the edges are higher ratings. Points that match up show alignment with self-care values and action!

This example doesn’t show a possible scenario where a blue point may be lower than an orange one. In this situation, someone may be focusing too much on something they don’t value or care about. 

For example, if I rated my work self-care as a 5 out of 5, but importance-wise only as a 2, that reverse gap would show room to improve on living out my values, rather than room to improve on meaningful habits. 

Self care web with a radar map of six different types of self care. The center is highlighted as "what's working"

The space inside the orange area of the web represents what is working, and likely what to keep doing. You can see in this example, this person is doing well with their physical/body, as well as mind/intellectual self-care. Those are the highest points on the web. 

Points lower to the center mean lower scores, so this person scored their current soul (spiritual) and work (occupational) self-care as low. There are still things going well, but it likely could be higher. 

Self care web with a radar map of six different types of self care. the outer portion is highlighted as "room for improvement"

Since the blue points and lines represent the personal importance of each of the types of self-care, the space between each orange and the blue line is the room for improvement. 

As you can see here, this web shows someone who values their work, yet their self-care habits aren’t supporting that right now. This could be a struggle for them, and an ideal space to focus on improving. 

Self care web with a radar map of six different types of self care. a variety of self care ideas are listed for each category

A complete web could then be filled in with a few habits for each aspect of self-care that are supporting the elements of wellness in the center space, and with habits to work on in the gap space. 

Make Your Personal Self-Care Web

Do you want to have your own visual map to create meaningful balance in your life through self-care? Here’s how to make your own in under 5 minutes. 

Step 1: Assess & Prioritize

Review my blog post on the six types of self-care and healthy habits. Note which ones are most important to you, and how you feel about your current state with each. 

Rate your importance and your current state of self-care on a scale of 1-5 for each. 

Some prompts to help you determine how much of a priority each type of self-care is:

  • Does this align with what I want my life to look like?
  • Is this consistent with my core values and beliefs?
  • Does this contribute to my happiness and quality of life?
  • How does this serve my greater good?
  • Is this something that motivates and excites me?

A few questions to consider when rating your self-care in the different categories: 

  • How often do I practice habits that support this part of me?
  • Do I enjoy doing this?
  • Is this an area I struggle with?
  • Do I often feel frustrated, bored, overwhelmed, lost, and/or negative about this?

Step 2: Make Your Web

Once you’ve rated how important each of the types of self-care are and how you feel you’re doing with each of them (you should have 12 numbers now!), plot them out either using a spreadsheet or on a blank chart using two different colors. 

Blank self care web radar map with the six types of self care

Step 3: Take Action

Then comes the fun part! Turn it into an action plan by adding specific actions into both spaces. Notice the discrepancies, or where there’s a gap between lines. How can you close the gap?

Some tips when making your self-care web:

  • Focus on the center. What is currently lighting you up, nourishing you, and keeping you happy and healthy?
  • Be realistic and practical. Consider your schedule and lifestyle.
  • Keep it simple, start with a MAXIMUM of three “room for improvement” self-care habits

Want a digital google sheets template to make your own map? Email me and I’ll send you mine!

Turn Your Self-Care Web into Reality 

Self-care is an essential part of maintaining and improving your overall well-being. When you take the time to prioritize your mind, body, soul, feelings, connections, and work, you’re better able to have the time and energy to do the things that you want to do. 

The Self-Care Wheel is one quality, well-known tool to help you take an honest and comprehensive look at your current self-care routines. However, self-care is individual, and practical self-care should account for your personal preferences. 

Self-care takes work, but it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. That’s exactly why it’s vital to take some time to consider what is important to you when it comes to your personal health and well-being. The Self-Care Web is a perfect place to start doing that. 

When it comes to your personal self-care journey, the web will help you to stay connected to your personal values and goals and balance them, rather than reaching one at the expense of others. 

I encourage you to take an intentional look at your current routines and make a Self-Care Web. You deserve to take care of yourself, in a way that works and feels good.

picture of a latte and an open journal with the text: the self care wheel, transform your wellness

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