You’ve probably heard the buzzwords “self-care” and “self-love” on social media or in your community, and like most people, you’re probably not sure about the difference between the two.
I’ve been there! I used to think that the two concepts were the same thing.
I thought that if I just kept telling myself that I loved myself and practicing compassion, I would hit the mark. But there’s a lot more than thinking positive thoughts when it comes to self-love and self-care.
Today, I’m going to share my findings and clarify the differences between the two so you can strike the perfect balance.
So let’s dive deep into your self-improvement journey and discover how to practice self-love and self-care!
- Self-love focuses on emotional wellness, acceptance, and positive self-image, while self-care involves intentional, reinforcing behaviors and goal-setting.
- Integrating both self-love and self-care can increase resilience, deepen relationships, and boost contentment, fulfillment, and energy levels.
- Cultivate a balance between self-love and self-care by dedicating time, stepping out of your comfort zone, practicing mindfulness, and allowing room for mistakes.
Table of Contents
What Is Self-Love?
Based on my personal experience, self-love means embracing and cherishing every aspect of your human existence, establishing the fundamental understanding that you are already secure, whole, and splendid.
There is no need to conceal, alter, or strive in order to be appreciated.
Loving yourself encompasses the revolutionary and ordinary belief that imbues your daily routines with significance, mindfulness, and the intention to derive pleasure from your own being and present life.
It involves truly perceiving and rejoicing in the unique joy of being alive as yourself, rather than trying to be someone else. It is an affirmation of self-value that demands to be acknowledged, yet also possesses a serene foundation.
It is often connected to self-care, a series of rituals that repeatedly remind you throughout a typical day that your habits matter because they reinforce your presence in the present moment, keeping us connected to your inner voice, spirit, and purpose.
The byproduct of self-love is that it can nurture contentment and compassion, causing competition, fear, anger, and other inadequate coping mechanisms to dissipate, leading to an enhanced awareness of the beauty within yourself and others—both in your current state and in your aspirations for the future.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is about taking an intentional set of actions that help to enhance your sense of self and well-being. Don’t confuse self-care with selfishness. It’s more than just indulging in face masks and bubble baths, I wish!
Did you know that there are seven pillars of self-care? I didn’t.
Seven pillars of self-care address the followings area of life that you should invest in for a fulfilling life:
- Social realms of your life
I can’t stress enough that It’s super important to take care of all of these parts of yourself in order to feel healthy and create balance in your day-to-day life.
Self-care is also about being able to identify when it’s time to put up boundaries and tend to what your mind and body are telling you. If you’re not aware of your needs and, for example, skip meals, stay up late at night, or hang out on the couch all day, you may need to pay closer attention to self-care signals.
Self-Love vs Self-Care: What Are the Key Differences?
Here are a few ways you can discern between self-love and self-care. I know it can feel a bit confusing, but with clarity, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy life where you prioritize yourself and your healthy habits:
A Focus on Emotional Wellness vs. Action
When it comes to self-love, we’re focusing on an emotional state. Think mindset works. Affirmations, acceptance practices, and moments in silence or meditation all fall within this realm.
Conversely, self-care is about taking actions that reinforce your values and improve your emotional state.
Just like when we care for anything else in our lives, we take steps to nurture ourselves with activities such as journaling, making plans for our future, and indulging in hobbies and social activities that feed us.
A Positive Attitude vs. A Reinforcing Behavior
Self-love is all about having the right attitude around your self-image.
Do you see yourself as a strong, capable, and intelligent person, or as an insecure or incapable individual? Self-love is a tool to orient towards a more positive attitude, both in our inner and outer worlds.
Self-care deals with the repeated habits and rituals we practice that reaffirm the good things in our lives.
For example, practicing gratitude or pausing and thinking about everything we appreciate in our lives, is a behavior that makes us feel better about ourselves and our life circumstances over time.
Acceptances vs. Goals
Self-acceptance can be a real challenge if we don’t practice self-love on a regular basis. We may get caught in the destructive cycle of picking ourselves apart.
We would say to ourselves, “My arms are too fat. I’m just not smart enough for this. They don’t really like me.”
Over time, these painful self-talk patterns chip away at our sense of self. So self-love involves catching these statements in their tracks and responding with more positive ones, such as “I accept my body just as it is” or “I can learn how to do hard things with time and patience”.
Self-care builds upon our positive mantras and self-talk. We use self-care to set goals that bring us to higher places in our lives and help us to achieve things that we think we deserve.
Using self-care to accept goals may look like reviewing your values on a monthly basis or even just making a to-do list at the end of each day.
The Importance of Both Self-Love and Self-Care
I’m going to be completely honest with you. I have a long history of struggling with self-doubt and low-self esteem. I’ve come a long way, and I owe it all to believing in the transformative power of self-love and self-care.
I think these two concepts are so important because they can completely change the habits and thought processes that keep you stuck in the same old patterns of unhappiness.
It just takes a small effort each and every day. It can be as little as one minute of centering and taking a few deep breaths, or a little bigger, such as starting a self-love and self-care routine.
And before you know it, you’ll start noticing that you feel better about yourself and your life.
Another reason why self-love and self-care are so important is that they’re the easiest way to change our circumstances without spending money or looking for external validation.
You may be swamped with work, feel unsupported by your community, or lack the resources to pay for help. And still, self-love and self-care are accessible to you. That’s right, it all comes from within.
Here are some of the amazing and exciting ways that your life will transform when you combine these two practices and implement them into your daily life:
You Will Become a More Differentiated Person
Differentiation refers to the ability to separate your thoughts from your feelings. When you master this skill, it’s easy to regulate how you feel and make clear choices in your life.
You Will Become More Resilience
Resiliency will improve your sense of confidence and self-worth will increase as you work on these two forms of well-being. This leads to greater resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from tough situations.
Your Relationships Will Deepen
With a strong sense of self-love and self-care, you’ll find that your relationships with others improve substantially. You’ll be able to communicate more clearly, stay true to yourself and have healthier boundaries that level up your lifestyle.
You Will Have a Greater Sense of Contentment and Fulfillment
Self-love and self-care practices make you feel more grateful and at peace with where you are in life. You’ll stop taking things for granted and start to appreciate the good things in your life.
You Become More Focused and Energetic
Self-care breaks, paired with self-love dialoguing, will help you to recharge your batteries. This means better productivity and fewer diminishing returns.
How to Cultivate a Healthy Balance Between Self-Love and Self-Care
Carve Out Some Time in Your Busy Day for Yourself
First thing first – there’s no way you’re going to regularly practice self-love and self-care if you don’t make time to. Prioritize these practices by choosing a time of day to show up for them. Maybe that means dedicating some time before work, or right before bed.
Maybe you set an alarm that reminds you to step away from it all and focus on yourself in the middle of the day.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Step Into the Unknown
Sometimes self-care gets too repetitive and doesn’t really serve our need for growth. If you’re feeling stuck, it might be time to shake things up a bit and try something that feels a little scary, because good things are often on the other side of fear.
Finding ways to invite growth-giving challenges into your life changes the whole game. It challenges you to trust in yourself, your decisions, and your intuitions. And that’s what we all want – to learn how to feel and act like our authentic selves!
This doesn’t have to mean that you sign up for skydiving lessons (unless that’s your kind of thing, then go for it and go big). It can just be something as simple as taking an art class at your local community center. Or taking a car ride or long walk, exploring a new neighborhood in your neck of the woods.
Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude When You’re Feeling Discouraged
Mindfulness is the practice of listening, looking at, and focusing on the present moment. And we need a lot more of it in our lives!
You’re usually running around on auto-pilot, just going through the motions with very little thought to whether or not your actions are good or bad for you.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are so many ways that we can practice mindfulness and tap into our self-love and self-care needs in real-time.
The first step is to pause and take a deep breath. Next, think of a small activity to include in your day that can make you feel grateful for what you have. It may look like meditation, creating a vision board, walking around in nature, or adopting an affirmation practice.
Seek Out Positive Role Models Who Inspire You
Finding others who are along the self-improvement path can go a long way in helping you to stay on track.
Whether it looks like a friend, mentor, or even an online community, having someone who can support and encourage you is essential for developing healthy self-love and self-care habits.
There are professional services that can help support you in developing your self-care and self-love as well. Therapists, life coaches, religious advisors, and more can all be wonderful resources to help you on your journey.
Give Yourself Permission to Fail
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes and be tempted to just give up on these practices. Maybe you pigged out on a pint of ice cream and skipped a workout one day, and maybe you were harsh and critical with your inner voice the following morning.
The truth is, these things happen. The simple act of trying to grow and evolve means that you’re going to make mistakes.
But if we see these “mistakes” as tests that give us more information, we can use our failure to grow. This compassionate approach can help us to choose good habits and a positive mindset that keeps us charging forward.
The Bottom Line: Self-Love vs Self-Care
Even though it can be difficult to fully understand the difference between self-love and self-care, they’re definitely there. Real happiness and fulfillment are a combination of these two practices, and they’re highly complimentary to each other.
Self-love provides an opportunity to become your own cheerleader and number-one fan. Self-care provides us with the ability to strategize and take action to create the positive change we need to feel like we’re growing.
You need to stay open-minded and willing to experiment to find the perfect balance between self-care and self-love. And it’s important to make this a regular practice so that the results can build upon each other and really blossom.
Don’t get caught up in perfectionism. In fact, you may even back-pedal from time to time. But remember, the fact that you’re trying your best is good enough and is an indicator that you’re on the right path.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between self-love and self-care?
Self-love centers around your emotional wellness and acceptance, while self-care involves your active habits that enhance your overall well-being.
What are the seven pillars of self-care?
The pillars are mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, recreational, and social realms of your life.
How can self-love and self-care contribute to my personal growth?
They increase resilience, deepen relationships, and boost contentment, fulfillment, and energy, essential for your personal development.
How can I balance self-love and self-care in my daily routine?
You need to dedicate time, step out of your comfort zone, practice mindfulness, find positive role models, and allow room for mistakes.
Why is it important to allow for mistakes in self-love and self-care practice?
It fosters a compassionate approach, helping you to choose positive habits and mindset that keep you moving forward.