self-care practical framework_compressed

A self-care framework (finally)

By Sarah

Image by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

I had a conversation a few weeks ago that – not to be too dramatic – shifted the axis of my life a bit.

It was with my friend Meg, and it was about self-care.

Wait wait – I usually glaze over at the use of that word too, but don’t go yet. This is quite interesting.

I think we feel like opting out at the mention of the word because we’ve heard the term “self-care” for what feels like ages now. As it’s become a bit of a buzzword, there are a whole lot of definitions floating around. The thing is, though, because it’s a bit of an intangible concept, I find that we don’t have a clear idea of what it actually means. Or, rather, it’s open to interpretation, and as a result people understand it to mean different things.

It’s all a bit… fluffy.

The dictionary definition (I looked it up after that chat), while clear, is still fairly general:

1. the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.
2. the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
“expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”

So, you know, cool, but… still a bit… fluffy.

Not when you talk to Meg. She’s a therapist who has developed her own formula-based definition of self-care for her patients.

I’m not usually a formula person – but it turns out I do like a framework that makes a concept easily digestible.

It looks like this:

self-care practical framework

Ten percent of the pie is what Meg calls “nonsense”, and which she describes as “a pause that feels good in the moment”. It doesn’t add to your sense of wellness, but it also doesn’t subtract from it.

These are things that I think most people would consider classic acts of self-care: a bubble bath, a massage maybe. Very pleasant (don’t let the label stop you!), but only a small portion of the self-care whole.

The remaining 90% is broken down into equal parts of:

– Health,
– Social, and
– Self.


Health includes all the usual suspects of sleep, exercise (whatever kind feels right for your body and mind) and nourishing food. It also encompasses things like that dental appointment you’ve been putting off. Your usual check-ups. It’s the most easily definable component.


Positive social interactions look a bit different for everyone, depending on whether you are an introvert or extrovert – or whatever feeds your soul, really. You’ll know they’re the right kind if they feel joyful, supportive and calming.

Social self-care is spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself, and energised, and avoiding things that feel draining (where possible – because life is still life).

We didn’t talk about it, but the extension of this to social media is an interesting one for me, and I think it absolutely applies!


This is harder to define because it is entirely unique to you, but Meg calls it: “The consistent pursuit of joy.”

What makes you feel happy?
What makes you feel whole?

Meg’s caveat is that it doesn’t have to be bucket-list big or something you restructure your whole life around. It can be a hobby, an interest. Moments that you build into your days.

Ultimately, we want to work so we can live. So the “self” part of the equation asks the question: What are you living for?

This conversation had such an impact on me for a couple reasons. Firstly, it was perfect timing. Secondly, although it didn’t necessarily include an idea in and of itself that was entirely new to me, the way Meg framed it for me made it feel so practical, so digestible – so real.

I asked myself what I felt I needed to feel more like myself. And then I listened.

I’m lucky that our culture at Pomegranite is such that I have the freedom to make the changes that I have – I know it’s not always as easy.

But here’s what my days look like now:

I wake up at 7am and get up quietly, trying to stop my Scottie, Eleanor, from yawning loudly if she decides to join me. I make myself some coffee and sit in the still, quiet light. Then I put on my swimming costume and head to the gym where I swim a km or two (depending on how I feel). Sometimes I treat myself to a coffee from my favourite coffee shop where their barista, whose name is Shorty, has the warmest smile.

At home, after a shower, I make an unhurried smoothie.

And then, at 10am (ten ay em!), I sit down to work.

And I feel peaceful. And productive. And happy.

I should really send Meg a quiche or something.