The Five Non-Negotiables
of Self-Care and Wellness

Self Care

By: Michele DiSorbo, Founder of BeingOnPurpose, LLC

When it comes to self-care, one size does not fit all. However, with that said, there are five “things” I have learned in my experience that are vital and thus I refer to them as my five non-negotiables of self-care and wellness.

“In case you have any doubt, YOU DESERVE IT. You are worthy of taking care of YOU!”

First a little bit about what self-care is and is not. Self-care is vital, important, necessary and essential which is pretty much every way that comes to mind to describe something that you cannot do without if you want to live a happy and healthy life (which I’m trusting you do or most likely you would not be reading this article). Self-care is about taking care of yourself in a way that honors who you are as a person, meets your needs in terms of your mind, body and spirit, and makes you a stronger, healthier version of you such that you can be the best in the world for yourself and others. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, it is the opposite. It is selfless. The same selflessness as it would be if you were in an emergency in an airplane and you needed to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others. If you get disoriented or black out when trying to put others’ oxygen masks on first then you are not helpful to your child, your elderly parent, or anyone else around you that may need assistance. Further, in case you have any doubt, YOU DESERVE IT. You are worthy of taking care of YOU!

Even though self-care may include the mani/pedi, or the massage, this is not all that self-care is about. It goes deeper than that. Many self-care activities are free and easy to access for almost anyone. At the end of this article, you will find a non-exhaustive list of some of these activities.

“Now we know, based on scientific evidence, we need these to do more than “just survive,” we need them to be healthy and thrive.”

For now, let us dive into the five non-negotiables of self-care and wellness. I referred to them as non-negotiable because all of them are necessary and backed by hundreds of years of experience and evidence. We are wired as humans going back to the “stone-age” to seek these to survive. Now we know, based on scientific evidence, we need these to do more than “just survive,” we need them to be healthy and thrive.

When my family, friends and clients tell me they have tried everything to be healthier and happier but their “issue,” whatever it is, is not getting resolved, I ask about these five areas. If I get an answer of “no,” “not much” or “not enough” to any one of them, I gently let them know they have not done “everything” or even “everything in their power.” When all else fails and it seems like the world is crashing down, health is failing, anxiety is through the roof, depression is setting in, and so on…the best advice is to focus in and control what you can control. Also, remembering that we are constantly making choices and taking trade-offs, so this list of 5 is something that we can all control, with truly little exception.

I present to you the five non-negotiables of self-care and wellness in an order to help remember them:


  1. Breathe
  2. Sleep
  3. Hydration
  4. Eating/Nutrition
  5. Movement

So, you may be thinking, “yeah, no duh!” I thought so too until I took an honest self-inventory and looked at my own daily routine…noticing the gaps and inconsistencies of doing these and doing them in a way that is effective. YOU ARE RIGHT! We all breathe for example, but most of us do not breathe effectively or efficiently. You would be surprised how shallow and short most of us breathe and how many seconds per day we actually “hold our breath” without even realizing it.

So, let us dig just a little deeper…

  1. Breathe – Not only is breathing your friend, but it is your life. We can stay alive for weeks without food and days without water (don’t try it), but we can only last minutes without oxygen. Our bodies need oxygen to feed and clean the cells. With proper breathing, you become healthier and stronger, improve relaxation, regulate your heart rate, and lower your blood pressure, release endorphins improve mood and regulating emotions, reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase energy, focus, memory and strength, and creative mindfulness and aliveness. Breathing is free, simple and something you can do anywhere at any time. Breathing slowly and deeply in and out through your nose is the healthiest.

Take Home Tip: Do “soft-belly” breathing by taking a slow, deep breath in through your nose, all the way down through your heart, lungs, diaphragm to “fill” and round your belly as it expands. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to flatten and relax. Repeat…start with 2 minutes at a time and work your way up to 20 minutes per day. Use this anytime you need to relax your muscles, calm your nervous system and/or fall asleep.

  1. Sleep – While everyone’s body is a little different, most grown-ups need 7-8 hours of sleep nightly. Studies show you can run on less sleep for a period of time (i.e., have a new baby at home, crunch time at work, studying for exams, etc.), but long term, lack of sleep is very unhealthy and actually unsafe. Going days with 4 hours or less is the equivalent of being intoxicated. Your brain and body do not function well, leading to accidents, sickness, bad decisions, negative emotions, the list is endless.

Take Home Tip: Put your electronic devices on “do not disturb” or turn them off completely. Even the light “ding” of notifications can interfere with your sleep cycle and can wake you up completely.

  1. Hydration – While everyone’s body is a little different, most grown-ups need 7-8 glasses of water daily. (Did you just have a little Déjà vu?) Experts say it depends on your body, how you sweat, the temperature and so on. My rule of thumb is 8 glasses daily. Dehydration is dangerous and not fun. Very smart people at Harvard Medical School share the important jobs of water: carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells; flushing bacteria from your bladder; aiding digestion; preventing constipation; normalizing blood pressure; cushioning joints; protecting organs and tissue; regulating body temperature; and maintaining electrolyte (sodium) balance.

Take Home Tip: If you do not love the taste of water, add a little lemon juice or a flavor you enjoy. If that does not help, just push yourself to down it! Your mind and body will thank you.

  1. Eating/Nutrition – While everyone’s body is a little different, most grown-up need 7-8 fruits and vegetables daily…just kidding. But really, overall, seek a balanced diet, increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and unprocessed food. Reduce your intake of processed and high-fat foods as well as sugar.

Take Home Tip: Shop mostly in the outer perimeter of the grocery store which is where you will find the fresh and frozen fresh items; the perishables. If it is in a box, bag or can and lasts for weeks, then it is processed and has some not so healthy ingredients. Try to limit or eliminate those. When in doubt, eat at all the colors of the rainbow.

  1. Movement – We all expect that movement (exercise, walking, dancing, playing sports, sex, etc.) is good for us physically, but did you know how valuable it is for your mind and spirit too? Move daily to help get good blood circulation, healthy joints, strong bones, muscle strength, cardiovascular health, good coordination, and quicker reflexes. Movement also improves our ability to learn new things, concentrate, remember, improve mood, interact, and overall improve mental well-being. According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, people who got 60 minutes of activity daily cut their risk of death by 57 percent and those who got at least 100 minutes of activity daily cut their risk of death by 76 percent.

Take Home Tip: Move it or lose…it is real. Even if the gym is not your thing or you just cannot get there, just move your body. Turn on the music and dance, walk around the block, search up a YouTube video, do yoga, stretch. If you have physical limitation, there are many “chair exercises” or water exercise that may be more accessible.

“Improve in all five areas, you will change your life: FOREVER!”

Overall Take Home Message…making significant improvements in even one of these top five areas can change your daily experience. Improve in all five areas, you will change your life: FOREVER!

Take Away Action Short List: Deep breathing, Take walks, Meditate, Nap, Fruit smoothie, Massage, Beach, Hot bath, Cold shower, Time in nature, Color/Draw, Dance, Sing, Journal, Read, Knit/Sew, Phone a friend, Play a game, Play music, Time with pets/kids, Movies, Get sun, Yoga/Stretch, Teatime, Pray, Give gratitude, Diffuse essential oils, Hugs, Kisses, Make love, Google self-care activities…

In addition to the 5 non-negotiables, make yourself a self-care jar. Make yourself a priority…you are the only one that will.

WE CAN HELP: BeingOnPurpose, LLC is a unique coaching & consulting practice designed to align your mind, body, and spirit to create a life of Passion, Purpose, Peace, and Prosperity.


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