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The Pillars of Health, the Foundations of Self-Care

Updated: Sep 8

pillars of health

The Pillars of Health are a classification of the core areas of lifestyle to address for health and wellbeing. Generally these fall under the broad categories of: physical, mental and social health.

It is useful to understand the different categories used by different bodies, even 'health' and 'wellbeing' can be defined differently dependent on the speaker. This allows us to check we we are ticking all the boxes when it comes to our own practice of self-care. In this article we will use the Pillars of Health from 2 different organisations as a starting point. Which of the pillars resonate with you and your own journey in health?


The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM)


  • Evidence supports the use of a whole food, plant-predominant diet to prevent, treat and reverse chronic illness.

Physical Activity

  • Regular, consistent physical activity is an important part of overall health and resiliency.

Stress Management

  • Managing negative stress can lessen anxiety, depression and immune dysfunction and leads to improved well-being.

Restorative Sleep

  • Improving sleep quality can improve attention span, mood, insulin resistance and can reduce hunger, sluggishness and more.

Social Connection

  • Positive social connections have beneficial effects on physical, mental and emotional health.

Avoidance of Risky Substances

  • Use of tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption have been shown to increase risk of chronic diseases and death.


Stanford Center on Longevity

Similar to the ACLM, Stanford's pillars include: Movement and Exercise, Healthful Nutrition, Restorative Sleep, Stress Management and Social Engagement. In addition, they also include:

Gratitude and Reflection

Gratitude may be defined as an appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful for oneself. The act of practicing gratitude is by no means a new idea, but it has gained significant attention in recent years. New research has found that practicing gratitude has significant positive effects on our physical and mental wellbeing, helps you sleep at night, and even bolsters your immune system. An increasing body of research shows that practicing gratitude and reflecting on positive aspects of our lives regularly may increase our life satisfaction and our quality of life.

Cognitive Enhancement

Note that Stanford does not include the ACLM's Avoidance of Risky Substances.


Other bodies define their own Pillars of Health and might include separate pillars for emotional or spiritual health, even the physical environment as part of whole-person health. With our own friends and clients Work-Life Balance is a pillar in its own right.

At the most basic level the Pillars of Health provide us with a common vocabulary for health. The pillars can also provide a valuable tool for self-reflection and to frame a conversation around wellbeing. Ultimately to allow us to take responsibility and action for our own health.

Stay Healthy,



Achieve your Health Goals

Your health, physical – mental – social - is complex and affected by multiple factors within and outside of your control. Our consults and programmes address the whole person, the root causes of ill health and maximising your health performance & vitality.

  • Take the first step. Book a Whole Health Consult to assess, identify and prioritise key factors (known and unknown) that affect your health. And receive personalised recommendations on how to address them.

  • Want to put recommendations into action? Learn more about our programmes for individuals or teams.

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