A roadmap for self-care: The Whole Health Cairn

self care

self care

I won’t go into the details about why I talk so much about self care here and now, but I do have to say that at one point, I was the definition of a hot mess. Physically, I wasn’t exactly the picture of health. I was a smoker. Made meals out of Shake & Bake and Skittles. After gaining 20 pounds in one month after quitting smoking, I found out that I had a bum thyroid. I was constantly sick with tonsillitis. Mentally, well…let’s just say, I was known to go into faculty meetings and leave halfway through, soggier than wet toilet paper since something had set me off so bad.

I was SENSITIVE. As an empath, I was also constantly confused about my feelings. I’d go to therapy and I swore, at any time, they would reveal to either me or one of my loved ones that I had multiple personalities since I was constantly soaking in everyone else’s junk. I could be defined as an emotional wreck. My kids still bring up the time that I beat up a blender…with a butter knife…because I couldn’t find the lid.

Surely, that blender deserved it.

Who am I kidding? I was embarrassed. How could I possibly successfully raise my two sweet little girls when I was such a mess? What sort of role model was I being? Something had to be done. I needed to find a way to exercise some self care.

I looked to my mom for help. She loaded me up with suggestions for things that could possibly keep me sane. She was a saint. Eventually, I became SUPER interested in the stuff she was telling me about…and by interested, I mean ravenous for more and more info.

I went from being a hot mess to a holistic health fanatic, obsessed with self care.

Eventually, through my Nia practice (that I discovered along the way), I was introduced to Lissa Rankin’s holistic wellness model, the Whole Health Cairn. I began to live my life by it and teaching my kids how to also integrate it into their own lives so that they, too, could benefit from it. For me, it became the ultimate roadmap for self care.

By “tweaking” different aspects of my life using this model as a guide, I was able to settle the crazed monster that was constantly screaming for attention in my mind. By sharing the model with my girls, I was able to transform my relationships with them and we became MUCH closer. The best part is that they no longer think I’m nuts.

It was a true blessing.

The Whole Health Cairn

The philosophy goes like this: There are 10 areas (stones) of life that need your love and attention if you would like to live a happy, healthy life. If one of the 10 stones is not tended to, the entire cairn suffers…meaning…YOU.

Below is an illustration and a description of each of the stones, as I have come to experience them. I invite you to examine them as well, and to consider which of the stones you are feeding, and which ones might need a bit of attention. I personally have noticed that if I pay more attention to the stones that feel neglected, then the health of the other stones is positively impacted. On that same coin, if I neglect any one of the stones, other stones will be negatively impacted.

Check it out.

self care

Seriously. Look at it in all its glory. I just dig this thing. If you hear me spouting off about anything, it’s usually one of these 10 stones and how they impact daily life. In checking out the rest of this blog, you will find that just about every post will fall under at least one of these categories.

  1. Physical Health – This goes without saying. The first stone in the Whole Health Cairn is one that we often think about when considering self care. Without physical health, you’ve got nothing. Yes, diet and exercise. By diet, I don’t mean choosing keto over candy. I mean…understanding how the food you eat and the way you move impact your overall health. This is a biggie. Understanding the way that your body is constantly trying to communicate with you. If you would like to check out more about this, I suggest you read this post: Make better decisions with the mind body connection.
  2. Mental Health – My end-all, be-all REASON for starting this blog to begin with is to examine ways that we can keep our kids mentally healthy by FIRST making OURSELVES mentally healthy. Every single thing I write about has an end-goal of making someone’s mental wellness and outlook on life much brighter and happier. We only live this life once. We might as well enjoy it. One of the messages that I have studied extensively is how stress impacts the body. Managing stress is extremely important for maintaining self-care. To read more about this, check out How stress affects the body.
  3. Money – Ohhh, the big “M” word. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. I tend to have a very playful attitude about it. But yes…even your financial situation can impact your overall health. And yes, if any of the other stones is suffering, you’re going to feel it in your bank account.
  4. Environment – Oy vey. I remember being in my late teens and TRASHING my first apartment. As an act of rebellion, I chose not to ever wash dishes…EVER. Guess what? My physical health began to suffer. So did my mental health. I just…I don’t even know if it’s necessary to go deeper into this. Something to keep in mind is that our outer environment is a reflection of our inner environment. And yes…I will even get into this on a global level, but I’m going to keep it close to home for a bit. 🙂
  5. Creativity – It’s amazing to me how many people say they’re not creative, but yet they’re amazing problem solvers. NEWSFLASH: Problem solving requires creativity. Creativity impacts every single thing we do every single day. I will be writing LOADS on this. Too much to get into here. Just think about how it applies to each stone in the cairn alone. YOU ARE A CREATIVE BEING. Own it. Stop telling people you’re not creative. Your self care depends on it. Did you get dressed this morning? Did you have an epiphany that you just had to write on Facebook? There you go. You’re creative. In addition, having a creative outlet is tremendously healing. To find out more about how creativity can impact your self care, check out How writing helped me heal.
  6. Sexuality – Admittedly, it’s also one of my favorites to talk about. I am fascinated with this stone. Not because it’s “dirty”, or scandalous, but because it is the one stone that isn’t really taken that seriously. People tend to have attitudes all over the “sexual attitudes” spectrum, ranging from strongly drawn to it to strongly repulsed by it. I also have come to understand that the concept of sexuality really does morph and shift with age. I believe that sexuality needs to be de-mystified in our culture so that we can begin to tap into the potential that it holds with regard to keeping us well–mind, body, emotions, and spirit.
  7. Spirituality – As humans, we are spiritual beings. Spirituality gives us hope and meaning. Our brains are hard-wired for it. It’s how we connect with one another, other beings, and our planet. As a lover of different cultures all around the world, I don’t believe that there is any one RIGHT way to do spirituality…as long as it is practiced. If it isn’t practiced, or it is ignored, we can expect to feel alone, empty, and abandoned. I don’t believe that anybody should ever feel that way in this life. Throughout this site I write a lot about spirituality, and it is a thread all the way through. I believe it is extremely important for self care. For a taste of what this looks like, check out this post: Finding calm in the middle of chaos.
  8. Work/Life Purpose – Are you seeing a trend here? Without spirituality, creativity, money, or mental health, work/life purpose will suffer. As the middle class is shrinking, it is becoming more and more critical for people to explore ways of creating wealth by doing what they love. Finding what it is that lights them on fire and pursuing it provides them with a sense of mission and purpose in life…which is HUGELY important. At the same time, I know of folks that have abandoned their draining careers so that they could go off and pursue creative businesses, only to wind up with zero money to support themselves. This, of course leads to depression, adrenal fatigue, loss of loved ones, and the list goes one and on. Determined to succeed, they will persevere with their creative ventures while they starve, and continue to feel worse and worse about life. Here’s the deal: sometimes you’ve gotta carry the “good enough” job while you work toward your dream. Sometimes, our dreams need cash. If you’re looking for purpose and direction, check out this post: How to start living a purpose-driven life.
  9. Relationships – This stone isn’t just about relationships with other people and our animals. It also encompasses our relationship with our bodies, our minds, our environment, our work, our sexuality, our creator…you get the gist. By cultivating positive relationships with each of the stones in the cairn, we can then expect to have richer relationships with those that we like and/or love. By developing strong relationship boundaries, we become much stronger. For tips on doing this, check out this post: Developing personal power through relationship boundaries.
  10. Inner Guidance | Inner Pilot Light – Imagine seafarers with no North Star. Or taking a road trip with no GPS. Your Inner Pilot Light contains your true essence. It is where everything about you that is true exists. If you ever are confused about what direction to go in, it knows the way. It can be experienced in a variety of ways: as a gentle whisper as you’re taking a stroll in nature; as a physical “ping” when you come close to something that you were meant to do; as a sudden yearning when you finally meet the one. Its voice is sensation in the body, and it is constantly talking to you. When we are young, we are very closely connected with it. Sadly, with time, experience, and social conditioning, we are taught to box it up and put it away. But the thing is…it exists still, and always will. Your happiness and health depend on living life in alignment with what it came to the world to do.

I whole-heartedly believe that the “boxing up” of the Inner Pilot light begins in youth (particularly at about 7 years old in Westernized cultures). Up until 7 years old, children aren’t so concerned with societal pressures. However, once they realize that something that they believe in is perceived by others as odd or counter-cultural, they stop — denying parts of themselves from “coming out” in order to keep from getting hurt or ridiculed.

But at what cost? Depression, anxiety, and possible suicide?

It is true that it isn’t possible to reach into the innocent brains of our young ones and flip the switches that could reverse the effects of childhood ridicule and trauma. However, what we CAN do is teach through example, using each stone in the Whole Health Cairn as guideposts to transform the way that WE feel…our own self care. Wellness and health are culturally-dependent. If our children are raised in an environment where the adults in their lives are healthy, they will learn that it is not only good for them to make healthy choices, but it is part of the culture that they are being raised in.

So go forth and enJOY your life today in each of these areas of your life! Also…if you haven’t had the chance to check out the Body Scan Meditation yet, you’re missing out! Through this technique you will be able to relax your body and mind, as well as get in touch with your inner wisdom. Check it out HERE.

2 thoughts on “A roadmap for self-care: The Whole Health Cairn”

  1. I freaking love this post, and I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got in store for this blog!

    1. Awww, thank you so much!!! I just hope that others find it useful. It’s been MEGA helpful for me!

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