The Mindful Doctor on Caring for Yourself

Wellbeing can be considered to be made up of four different and overlapping dimensions ; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Sometimes social and environmental dimensions of wellbeing are included to make six.

A useful exercise I use when facilitating trainings on the importance of self care is to ask participants to write down some of the things they do already to care for themselves under the six headings of wellbeing.


Exercise is usually the first thing people write down as a way of caring for their physical well being. Examples include walking, cycling, swimming, and gym work. Also caring for your body includes the food we eat, and when and where we eat. Quality and quantity of sleep matters too.
Recognising we may benefit from one of the many treatments available when our body is not functioning as we would wish, is important. Even if our body is okay a massage for example is beneficial and an enjoyable treat!


Caring for the mind involves how we deal with stress. That could include specific relaxation techniques such as breathing, yoga, mindfulness and meditation. Exercise for some is a great stress reducer. For others it is concentrating on something such as knitting, doing a crossword, mending a car. Reading, watching TV, having a warm bath, and generally chilling out; each person will have their own favourites.


With emotional self care it can be helpful to think about what we do when we are sad, angry, lonely or frightened. We all will have coping mechanisms and being aware of them is a start to understanding them better. If we feel able, sharing our feelings is helpful.


A way to approach spiritual care is to ask yourself, ‘What lifts my spirits?’ Being connected to Nature, reading an inspiring book, singing in a choir, being of service to others, or simply being with loved ones are all spiritually up-lifting. For some it is meditation and prayer, or having a religious belief that brings spiritual sustenance.

Social and Environmental

Our social activities play an important part of well being. Interacting and sharing with others is enjoyable and can be a valuable source of support. As for the environment, most of us are aware of the big issues like recycling and climate change, but it is worth thinking about our work and home environment. ‘Is there anything simple you can do to improve your surroundings?’

Have a Go!

Have a go yourself and write down what you do for your own self-care under the six dimensions of wellbeing. It is not a test, but a reflective exercise, and you can add to it later. You may be surprised how much you already do, and if some of the things you do are helpful, perhaps do a bit more of them.

Craig Brown

To follow Craig’s daily mindfulness suggestions @amindfuldoctor  please click here.

Craig’s free meditation podcasts can be accessed by clicking here.

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